Seasons Greetings from our Art Poobah!! (And a special holiday crafting idea!)

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Silly campers, you tie dye your SHIRTS, not your hands!!!

Seasons greetings, campy folks! Hummingbird here! We’re certainly far from summer now, huh? There’s snow on the ground, and the air is a’hum with carols! Golly, the holidays are comin’ up fast and I don’t even have my gifts ready yet! I want to give something I made from the heart, but I just don’t know what I could make…. Let’s see what our Art Poobah, Elise, is up to. She’s so creative, maybe she’ll have an idea for a crafty holiday gift! Elise has been at camp for 5 summers, and she’s headed up all the art programming at camp, from tie dye to drawing, photography to print making, and everything in between! You may recognize her by the crocks she wears, or the tie dye that’s always staining her hands! And if that doesn’t tip you off, you may know her as the counselor who takes all the pictures around camp and sings Jingle Bells in July! Let’s see what she’s up to!

Hummingbird: Howdy Elise! I see you’re still wearing your famous mis-matched crocks! Do you have a favorite color combination? 

Elise: Yes! I have one green one, and one yellow one with flowers. I like to switch the back straps so they’re opposite! (But mostly I just don’t really like shoes at all. Shhh that’s not allowed at camp, don’t tell anyone!)

Hummingbird: You get to be behind the scenes and up close and personal at every camp event to take pictures! Many of your beautiful pictures are posted right here on this very blog! What is your favorite camp program to photograph?

Elise: My favorite camp thing to photograph is baby food! It’s exciting because I never know it’s gonna happen until right before it does, and it’s SO much fun to take pictures of all the crazy grossed out expressions from all the campers and AWACs and counsellors that are watching their friends eat disgusting food! There’s nothing like capturing the face of a kid eating mashed up ham and peas on a big spoon! Mmmmm! Closely followed by Kim and Reggie, obviously. Although, as much as I love taking photos of people “Trampin,” I’d rather leave my camera in the cabin and join in.… I do my best to do both!

Hummingbird: Camp built a brand new photo studio just last year! Can you tell us about the process of building the studio? Was there anything special you made sure was part of the building? 

Elise: Omg the new photo studio is my dream come true! To be honest, I wasn’t really a part of the actual building. That was primarily Carmi and Tim’s beautiful work. I was involved in looking over the floor plan before it actually got built. I remember making sure there was going to be a closet for developing the film, and making sure there would be a sink in both the studio, and also the classroom.

It was such a relief to actually have a classroom space with a table to work at too, for the times that we’re not actually in the dark!  Our classroom in the old photo studio was literally the health lodge porch (ouch!) And as much as I love those mountain biking classes, I definitely don’t miss the chaos of trying to teach a photography class amongst bikers.

Hummingbird: You have a unique relationship with the lake fish. Is it true that when campers go up to Pinegrove twice a session the fish sing along with the camp songs all the way from the lake? 

Elise: They obviously sing along! How can you NOT sing along to Pinegrove songs?? I bet their favorite is “the jellyfish”. …although it must be frustrating for them, they have no knees to put together, and I’m not really sure if fish can squish their faces? Let me know you guys, it certainly won’t be me asking them!

Hummingbird: What is your favorite art class you’ve ever taught at camp? 

Elise: HA!! Oh wow that’s an impossible question to answer. I think it’s so much fun to teach screen printing and photography especially, because I spent all of my college years making my own work in the darkroom and the print studio. Being able to teach what I love to campers who are really interested in learning about those things makes me feel really good. And honestly, I’ve learned more about art from teaching it to kids than I think I learned in art school! So many cool ideas, and different ways of doing things.

Summer of 2015 I taught a class that was supposed to be making beads out of polymer clay. I brought a little old toaster oven and a bunch of Sculpey clay into the foothills dance studio. The majority of campers that signed up were in French Quarter together at the time, and everyone was friends, which is always fun. One day while we were making beads, someone commented on the toaster oven we were using to bake the clay, and pretty soon everyone was talking about how much they wished we could have toast while we were making our beads! I thought this was a pretty good idea too, so I started grabbing a couple extra pieces of bread at breakfast, and some packs of butter and we would have toast parties every day while we were making stuff out of clay! I brought my old iPod to class and one day the song “Ophelia” by the Lumineers came on. All the campers in the class decided it was the only thing they wanted to listen to, so by the end of the 2 weeks the class had gone from regular clay beads to toast parties, and sing-screaming “Ophelia” for an hour every single day. I loved it, it was hilarious and actually so fun! It always cracks me up when classes transform into some crazy thing that’s so far from where it started. That’s the beauty of camp for ya! Never a dull moment. Shout out to my 2015 toast class!! I’ll always remember you. …you know who you are. 🙂

Hummingbird: What are some creative crafts you’ve seen campers make over the years? 

Oooh boy, people around here are pretty crafty! I love watching the crazy classes that art teachers come up with, and the wild creations that campers pull outta nowhere! From Rachel’s cardboard arcade class, to magic potions, paint balloons out of the treehouse, and loofa paintings during cabin nights. kitten toys, tie-dyed limbs, and faces drawn on water balloons… Everything is art. The possibilities are endless. Ya’ll are creative as heck, keep it up!

Hummingbird: What’s your favorite art studio on camp?

Elise: I’d probably have to say it’s a pretty close tie between the Buckhorn and the new darkroom! The darkroom is winning by a little bit right now, because it’s so new and beautiful! But I love being in both of those spaces… and it’s a good thing, because that’s where I spend the majority of my camp time! #tiedye4evr.

Hummingbird: It’s no camp secret that you LOVE the holiday season! Campers can see you sporting a santa hat and singing Jingle Bells around camp throughout the summer!! What do you love about this time of year, and how do you bring that spirit to camp during the warmer months? 

Elise: My favorite holiday song is “The Christmas Waltz” by Frank Sinatra. The best line in the song is “It’s that time of year when the world falls in love.” Corny, I know. But also, it describes in a phrase exactly why I love the holiday season. No matter what you celebrate, or if you even celebrate a holiday at all, and whether you’re home, or far away… there’s something about this time of year that feels like people can find really good things happening just a little bit easier than usual. It’s just actual magic energy I think. There’s snow, (at least where I live!) and lights, and candles, and tons of sugar, and a lot of singing, and people helping each other out just a little bit harder. And those are all things that make me fall a little bit in love with everyone, and really glad to be alive in the world. Maybe that’s why I love camp so much! I think everyone at camp is REALLY good at being in the holiday spirit all year round. My kinda people. It’s all you guys that make it feel like mid December in late July. Thanks for your cheer!!! Merry happy everything, hope you’re all singing more than you’re speaking, and sneaking extra dessert!

Hummingbird: You’re famous for being able to sing (real words!!) with your mouth closed!!! Is there any secret to it? What’s your favorite song to sing inside your mouth, and have campers ever successfully sung along? 

  1. You belong with me, by Taylor Swift. Fer sure.
  2. YES!! There have been a few talented camp people over the years that have very successfully sung along! And many, many who have tried. I love it when campers I don’t even know very well will pass me during a class transition and just start singing to me inside their mouths. Makes my day every time.
  3. The secret is: …it’s a secret!

Hummingbird: For those of us who aren’t as holiday-ready as you are, do you have any craft projects we can have a fun time making and giving to loved ones? 

Yes! My personal favorite holiday craft: snow globes!!!

Everyone loves a snow globe!! There are snow globes for all occasions! You can put whatever you want in them!! They make great gifts, and they’re basically a whole magic world you can hold in your hand and stare at whenever you want!

Here’s what ya need:
-baby oil
-a glass jar! (old glass peanut butter jars work, babyfood, jelly, salsa… really anything you can find that has minimal “stuff” on the sides.)
-glitter (not the super fine stuff- that will clump up. Look for the glitter with bigger pieces!)
-polymer clay (the kind that you bake in the oven)
-polymer clay glaze (clear glaze that makes it shiny-you can find it in the same isle as the clay usually)
-a hot glue gun and some hot glue sticks
-just a regular oven.
-optional: some acrylic paint, and a ribbon!


  1. Make your figure out of clay! Come up with something cool that you want to live in your snow-globe-world. You can make anything! Cats! dogs! aliens! the nutcracker! The fire truck! Tipi hill! The world is your oyster!  Just make sure whatever you come up with is the right size so that it fits in your jar, but not too small to see. Once you’re done making your clay friend, make a ball of clay for the base-any color you want. Make sure it fits inside the twist-off top of your jar! (the top of your jar where the cap is will become to bottom of your snow globe.) Stick your new clay being to the ball of clay, and bake the clay in the oven at 275 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Let it cool. Once it’s cooled off, coat your baked clay with the polymer clay glaze so that it’s shiny, and protected. Let it dry. (sometimes it needs awhile to dry- make sure you read the bottle!)
  3. Once it’s dry, remove the cap from your jar. Use the hot glue gun to attach your clay base to the inside of the cap, and then your figure to the clay base. (if it’s not already attached.) Let that dry.
  4. Fill the jar to the top with baby oil. Add the sparkles!!!
  5. Put hot glue around the entire rim of the cap of your jar. lower your cap onto the jar (it’s okay if some stuff spills out) and quickly tighten the lid so the glue doesn’t harden too fast! Put a lot of hot glue around the outside of the rim to make sure the baby oil does not leak out once the jar is sealed.
  6. Flip it over! Shake it up! Look how cool you are! You made that! GOOD JOB.
  7. If you want to add some sweet finishing touches, you can tie a ribbon around the rim of the jar, and paint the cap with acrylic paint. You can also do whatever the heck you want to it, because you’ve got a lot of other good ideas, I know it!

I hope you’re all playing in the snow, or the waves, or the rain, or the sunshine. I hope you’re all around good people, and eating delicious food, I hope you’re all remembering to sing when you feel like it, remembering to take care of your friends, and remembering that you’re waterproof. Keep playing. You’re all great. Show me your snow globes, I can’t wait to see em’.

Happy new year! Merry holidays!
See ya this summer!
Love, Elise and Hummingbird


Camp friends are the best friends!

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

Howdy, HVC! Hummingbird here, and brrrrr is it chilly here in the Valley!! Blackberry the llama and I had the best time ever sledding down the first snow of the year on Tipi Hill today! The snow was light and fluffy and perfect for a few rides, although it was hard to hang on tight with wings!!

Berry and I realized that we’ve been friends for almost 10 years now! Can you believe?! We started off in Down Under as the youngest animal campers (a little known but definitely real camp program that happens in the offseason), and now we live at camp all year round! We went from campers to AWACs to counselors, all the while keeping in touch over the winters and visiting each other’s hometowns! Summers are waaaaay too short, and the time we’ve spent away from camp feels like absolutely FOREVER!!! But the friendship Berry and I share keeps me warm even in the cold months of the year!

I know some campers who feel the same way about their HVC pals! In fact, campers, counselors, and AWACs alike had a meetup in New York just last week to keep that summer warmth alive as the air gets crisper! Take a look at photos of the reunion, and don’t forget to tell your camp friends how much you love them!

Before we part, I’ll leave you with a few old favorite Taj quotes:
Friendship is like peeing your pants… Everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Friends are like potatoes… if you eat them, they’ll die.

Feeling the warmth,
Hummingbird 🙂

Camp = Halloween… see for yourself!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, HVC!!! Skeleton here, with your campy update!! Just kidding, it’s me, Hummingbird! I bet you didn’t recognize me in my costume! You know, Stanley the llama and I were chit-chatting this morning on our walk along Tom’s Trail to count how many orange leaves we could find (we lost track after a billion and three). I was feeling sorta blue that we never celebrate Halloween with campers…. how fun would it be if we could all dress up here on camp and eat candy and play wacky games!! But my woolen friend reminded me that we do that stuff every day at camp!! CAMP IS JUST LIKE HALLOWEEN!!! Okay, I know it’s not really Halloween, but Stanley and I have concocted a pretty convincing theory. Hear me out.

Almost every day at camp is an opportunity to dress up in a silly costume. Of course we have the obviously costumed evening programs, like the Play and Musical, but the fun doesn’t end there! Who doesn’t love dressing up as an octopus for the occasional Under the Sea Dance?! Or any themed dance for that matter– octopus at the Old Town Rodeo? Heck yeah! And what we wouldn’t give to wear our regal Medieval Lazy Day costumes out in the real world every day! Lest we forget our plant-tastic Wheel of Misfortune, or our out-of-this-world OTHER Wheel of Misfortune! And of course there’s all the covering ourselves in paint that we do, whether as Oompa Loompas for an evening program, or as dedicated Fair Day fair-goers gettin’ our face paint on! Every day is costume day in the Valley!

And besides the costumes, of course there’s the CANDY! From our Candy Crush candy hunt to Candy Chemistry, to just plain old eatin’ candy in the cabin with pals, camp is hardly a break from the Halloween candy craze! Imagine if Halloween happened at camp, and we only got 10 pounds of candy ONCE a year!!! Heavens forbid!!!

Therefore, CAMP = HALLOWEEN!! Get it??

Stanley really helped me see how camp and Halloween really do go together, even if we can’t go Trick-or-Treating as a cabin. If you’re missing all the summery-costumey fun, or if you need some last minute inspiration, check out pictures of some dress up highlights from this summer!!

Trick or treat**

**ALWAYS treat!!!

Orange you glad you’re reading the blog?? :)

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Howdy doody, HVC!! Hummingbird here! The days are getting shorter up here in the Valley and I can feel a chilly breeze ruffling my wee feathers as the winds a’blowin’ from the top of Tipi Hill all the way down to the shores of Ledge Pond and over to the Brumby arenas!

Although we can’t hear the sound of hundreds of children’s laughter these days, the Valley is far from silent! Never a dull moment here, Peter and the Crew are working on several projects around camp! Let’s take a look!

Carmi, Elise, Celie, and Luke the Dog built a new H Dock for the lake, and spent an afternoon installing it together! Luke helped out with some of the ruff work!!!! (hehehehe get it?? Ruff?? He’s a dog!!!)

Meanwhile up at Brumby our crew has been hard at work maintaining the trail and fixing up the road!! I don’t think any of our horsies would say neighhhh to that! (HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!)

Speaking of smelly things we wouldn’t say neigh to, check out what’s going on at the Barn! Our crew is doing the important doodie (I am slapping my birdie knee!) of spiffing up the bathrooms! It’s a little stinky now but we’ll all be thanking the toilet heavens come summertime when 300+ people use those rooms daily!

That’s what’s up here! All of this hard work is set against the backdrop of brilliant Autumn colors! Check out pictures of the beautiful scenery up here these days, golly it sure is idyllic! A bird could fly one lap around this camp and count over 100 different colors…. well… only if a bird had human retinas with adequate cones to interpret all the colors it saw…. alas, a bird can still appreciate the Fall 🙂

Be thankful for your retinas this season!

Humming the tune of Autumn in New England (that’s my version of Autumn in New York by Ella Fitzgerald, but it’s all about MAINE!!),
Hummingbird 🙂

Ps: tune in for a special Halloweeny blog post in a few weeks!


Did I scare ya?? 🙂


© 2020 Hidden Valley Camp | News Reports | Page 2. All rights reserved. Part of the Network | Design: April Durrett; Development: Sephone Interactive Media.