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P.O. Box 609

Hancock, NY 13783


P.O. Box 770100

Coral Springs, FL 33077-0100

QUICK TAKE: Located in New York’s beautiful western Catskills

just over 100 miles from New York City, this festival invites

kids from around the country and world interested in performing

to “participate in a program run by certified teachers

and complemented by counselor specialists.” With campers

coming from New York, Philadelphia, Florida, and even London

or Paris, meeting a diverse group of kids is a plus.


FEES: One week precamp, $650; first three weeks of summer,

$3,400; second three weeks of summer, $3,900; last three weeks

of summer, $2,850; first six weeks, $6,200; last six weeks,

$5,000; full nine weeks, $7,000. Fees include a nonrefundable

$350 instruction, supervision, and room and board fee.

BACKGROUND: French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts,

which started in 1970, now includes dance, theater, music,

circus, magic, visual arts, and sports. Begun as a quiet camp,

it has become the preeminent program for kids interested

in performing arts, nontraditional sports, and everything in


DESCRIPTION: From the Web site: “Each day consists of six

activity periods, three majors and three minors. Majors are

chosen at the beginning of each session, meet daily and are

activities you have the most interest in pursuing. Majors are

instructional and are designed to meet your individual ability

level. At French Woods, many majors lead towards a Festival

Week performance. Minors are chosen daily to explore new

interests. If you prefer, you can strengthen the areas of strong

interest during the minor periods.” Most activities involve

eight to twelve children. The campers are grouped and bunked

together by age. An out-of-camp trip to New York City is available

for the foreign (both to the country and area) campers,

and sometimes children will leave camp “to compete in intercamp

games or perform in our traveling troupes.”

OUR TAKE: Kids love the idea of being able to make their own

decisions. At French Woods, they get to choose their activities,

and they’re never stopped from doing what they choose.

Furthermore, the staff is skilled in motivation, problem solving,

and just letting kids have fun.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: When we hear “performing arts,” we

think of the relatively narrow areas of theater, dance, and

music. But French Woods offers much more: it offers a new

way to behave, play, and learn.


Creative and performing arts camp

Peter & Meg Kassen, Directors/Owners

161 Hidden Valley Road

Freedom, ME 04941

(207) 342-5177

QUICK TAKE: This is not a traditional or average camp. Rather,

it is a noncompetitive camp immersed strongly in the arts.

The directors do it well. It’s choice driven for the kid who is

independent and works well in a less-structured environment.

Hidden Valley Camp welcomes students from across the

country and around the world for arts and crafts, horseback

riding, music, sports, swimming—you name it. Children can

also participate in day trips and special performing arts events.

The camp stresses building self-esteem. A camp newspaper,

sign language, and organic farming are elements that make

this experience exceptional.


FEES: Four-week camp, $3,690; eight weeks, $5,990. (Most

kids attend for only four weeks.) Some activities, such as

horseback riding, require an additional fee, but most activities

are included in the tuition.

BACKGROUND: Hidden Valley Camp began in 1948 “as a work

and farm camp for twelve teenaged campers.” Since then, the

still family-owned business (now by Peter and Meg Kassen)

has evolved into one of the best-known camps in the country

for the child who wants a noncompetitive camp strongly committed

to the arts and emphasizing the personal discovery of

self through a diverse and eclectic program.

DESCRIPTION: The kids are free to choose which classes (arts

and crafts, waterfront swimming, riding, ropes courses, performing

arts, sports, outdoor adventures, music, llama and

animal care, communication arts (which includes video,

photography, journalism, and creative writing)) to take from

those offered during one-hour instruction periods. For four

to eight weeks (depending on your choice), your child will be

placed in an atmosphere that emphasizes his or her chosen

activities. As with most camps, there are the traditional outof-

camp day trips to roller skating rinks, the circus, and so

on. The camp is committed to enhancing self-esteem through

its well-trained staff and exceptional programs.

OUR TAKE: This camp is for the open-minded thinker. It is for

the independent child who would enjoy exploring himself or

herself through a strong creative program. If your child is a

competitive sports enthusiast, this may not be the program.

For those parents, who want to broaden the horizons of their

athletically driven kid, this may be the answer. One caveat: If

your child operates best and thrives in a structured environment,

this is not the optimal choice.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: A summer at Hidden Valley might give

children the confidence to learn what they are good at.