Tag Archives: Enchanted Hills Camp

Everything EHC Podcast: A Peek into our Camp’s Day-to-Day

Enchanted Hills Camp’s Enrichment Area Leader Masceo Williams is putting a fresh spin on Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, California through his new podcast, Everything EHC.

“Years from now, I want people to be able to look back and see what we were doing in the past. There are so many interesting people here, and I want to be able to capture their stories through the podcast,” says Masceo (pronounced May-cee-o).

Masceo, who is blind, got involved with camp in 2014 as the nature area leader and has continued being an active member of the EHC community. He started the podcast to raise awareness about the camp within the blind community, and show what camp has done for the diverse group of both blind and sighted individuals who come back year after year.

Though LightHouse can’t take any credit for producing the podcast, LightHouse and EHC employees have featured in numerous episodes. As Masceo said in his first episode, the podcast is “recorded at EHC, by EHC, and for EHC.” The 30 episodes recorded so far, with the promise of many more to come over the summer, cover everything from camp history to band and movie reviews. In each episode, Masceo interviews a featured guest and collects a wide variety of perspectives on camp. He has featured camp director Tony Fletcher, camp counselors and other leaders, and both campers and parents during the summer’s first session of family camp.

By speaking to so many individuals, some who are new to camp and others who are very familiar with EHC’s charm, he conveys the true enchantment and beauty found there. EHC is a place where blind campers—adults and children—can find independence and lifelong friends all in the space of a few days. The property is also rented out during the off-season, allowing others to partake in its mystique while simultaneously benefitting the blind community.

Listen to a few of our favorites:

Episode 1: Get to know Camp Director Tony Fletcher

Episode 12: Chilling with Camp Counselor Nasir & Volunteer Vinay

Episode 18: With Camp regular Ken Rossi

Our Blind Music Academy is Going on Tour in August and You’re Invited

In its fourth year, LightHouse’s summer Music Academy continues to grow and expand, literally. Each year, Music Academy culminates with a performance by blind students from all over the world. This time around the group will take the stage at Enchanted Hills’ brand new Redwood Grove Theater, which was completed this summer and features redwood benches made at camp by blind woodworker George Wurtzel. The students will also hit the road to perform at our headquarters in San Francisco. 

A view of the new redwood amphitheater dappled in sunlight at EHC.

Experience the power of Music Academy by joining us at one of these free concerts:

About Music Academy

Enchanted Hills Camp has paired up with Bill McCann, founder and president of Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology to craft a Music Academy for blind musicians ages 16 to 24 years old who are serious about music or might be thinking of entering the profession. Bill McCann pioneered this specialized music academy model both in Canada and the United States. The academy introduces students to using non-visual techniques to compose music, read the works of others, learn performance skills and gain the capacity to compete for and win employment in the music field.

With its specialized emphasis, our talent pool and ambition continues to grow. This year we’re excited to host students from all over the world, who will spend a week focused on not only becoming better performers but achieving fluency in braille music and other accessible forms of musical notation.

Musicians ages 18 and over who are participating in the Music Academy are invited to stay on for the extended section of our Music Academy program. The extended program starts August 13 and ends August 16 and will be held in San Francisco at LightHouse for the Blind. We will shuttle those qualifying participants to LightHouse for the Blind from the Enchanted Hills Camp. We will also provide a shuttle service to the SFO airport at the end of the program on August 16.

We still have openings in this year’s Music Academy! If you have questions about the session please contact Taccarra Burrell at tburrell@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7318.

Camper Spotlight: Billy Lei

Nineteen-year-old Enchanted Hills camper Billy Lei bubbles with enthusiasm as he describes his first session at EHC, saying, “I loved Enchanted Hills from the first moment I got there. I loved the space, the trees, the people, all of it!”

Billy moved with his family from China to Sacramento eight years ago. They moved in part to give Billy the education he couldn’t get in China, where children with disabilities are often shuttered away. It was a big change. He says, “I was just eleven when I came here. I didn’t know the language and remember having to adjust to the hotter weather and different food.” Despite these challenges, Billy began to sharpen his English, dig into academics and learn how to relate to his American peers.

And Billy wanted to do more than that. At first, he might have been mistaken for shy, but he explains, “…that’s not really my nature. I learned a lot in school, but I wanted to become more confident and push myself even more.” That is exactly what he did at Enchanted Hills.

Since 1950, Enchanted Hills Camp, sprawling across 311 idyllic acres in the redwoods of Napa, is the place where children and adults who are blind or have low vision try new things, experience the grandeur of wilderness and make lifelong friends. Each year Enchanted Hills offers more than 550 campers the chance to enjoy nature while learning all kinds of skills, from archery to tactile crafts, from campfire-building to horseback riding.

Billy jumped at the chance to go to camp. Once there he learned to navigate the undulating campus and enjoy all that the camp had to offer. He tells us, “There’s so much that I love about Enchanted Hills. I love nature – I love hiking and the feeling of open space, the sound of the birds – it’s a happy place to be and I can really relax my mind. I love all kinds of physical activity and I took my very first martial arts class there. I liked it so much that I continue to take classes here at home.”

Camp Director Tony Fletcher says, “Billy is a great role model for the younger campers and he always takes advantage of the opportunities offered to him. We’ve seen how EHC can be a gateway to the deep learning of the rest of the LightHouse. Billy has run with this. He really threw himself into camp life. Now he’s getting ready to take on the working world as an active member of LightHouse’s Youth programs. He is learning how to do a great job interview.”

This summer, hundreds of young campers will set up their cabins and meet blind friends, old and new. Together they will gain confidence and a sense of pride in who they are. Please donate to help us continue to make camp a place for blind kids to discover themselves.

View the full list of our camp sessions here. We still have spaces at our STEAM Camp, the special tech track in our youth camp session, from July 12 to 15 — learn more about this dynamic and educational session on our website.

Cycle for Sight: Join Team LightHouse in Napa on April 22!

“She’s game for things that a lot of people aren’t,” says Marc Sutton of his fitness partner Ginger Jui. “She’s willing to go on dirt, she’s willing to go down steep stairs. The more you ride with someone, the more you have that built trust. I feel safe with her, but I feel like it’s not an overcautious safe — it’s just like, alright, let’s go have fun… something exciting is going to happen here. Let’s see what it is.”

Marc and Ginger have been riding tandem together for going on eight years. For Marc, who is blind, riding with Ginger creates a physical outlet that gets him out of his mind and into his body. For Ginger, it’s a pedaling meditation and a chance to catch up and talk about life. Both have gained a lifelong friendship. Get to know their story in the video below.

Every spring, LightHouse rallies a team of blind and sighted cyclists like Marc and Ginger to ride and train together for Napa Rotary’s Cycle for Sight and raise funds for Enchanted Hills Camp. You can ride on your own or join a tandem team for the 15, 25 or 50 mile routes through wine country with more than 2,500 other cyclists. This is also great opportunity for Anthem and USABA’s National Fitness Challenge to set new and different fitness goals!

Start by signing up for Cycle for Sight and select Team LightHouse at signup. Then contact Tony Fletcher at tfletcher@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7319 if you’re interested in being part of a tandem team. Check out the existing members of our team!

If you’re curious about riding tandem but haven’t done it before, don’t fret — we’re offering free trainings in early April, so you can join the event with confidence. Mark your calendars for these upcoming training sessions at Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program (BORP) at 3075 Adeline St #200 in Berkeley. Tandem bikes will be provided onsite, so contact Dagny Brown at dbrown@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7311 to reserve your spot.

April 6 – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

April 13 – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.

April 15 – 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Members of Team LightHouse get a snazzy biking jersey and the opportunity to help raise vital funds for Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. All participating cyclists will receive an individual rider profile on our Cycle for Sight page, with a built in donation form. If you’re interested you can crowd fund via your individual rider page after you sign up and answer a few questions about yourself.

Raise $300 or more to receive a free stay the evening before the ride at Enchanted Hills, including meals! We also offer a prize for the person or tandem team who raises the most contributions. All proceeds support Enchanted Hills Camp. We hope you’ll join us!

Visit www.cycle4sight.com for route information, start times and more info.

The Summer 2017 Enchanted Hills Camp Schedule is here!

For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath, 2017 Enchanted Hills Camp registration is now open! See the full schedule of sessions below and follow the links for descriptions of each.

We’re also offering a  few new adult sessions in February and March, including our Adult Music Session in mid-February and an additional Woodworking with Wurtzel session in March, to accommodate the folks who missed out on the February session.

Adult Music Session – February 16 – 19

Woodworking with Wurtzel – February 16 – 19 (FULL)

Woodworking with Wurtzel  – March 16 -19

Baking with Dan – March 16 -19

Cycle for Sight – April 22

Family Camp I – June 8 – 11

Blind Babies Family Camp – June 16 – 18

Adult Session – June 24 – 29

Adults with Developmental Disability Session – June 30 to July 5

Family Camp II – July 6 – 9

Youth Camp – July 10 – 16

STEM Camp – July 12 – 15

Teen Camp – July 20 – 29

Family Camp III – August 2 – 5

Horse Camp – August 7 – 13

Youth Music Academy – August 7 – 13

Deaf-Blind Session – August 14 – 18

Chemistry Camp – October 20 – 22

Register here for all of the 2017 Enchanted Hills Camp Sessions.

If you have question regarding camp sessions or registration, contact EHC Program Coordinator Taccarra Burrell at tburrell@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-863-7568.

In February – Enchanted Hills Will Offer Music Camp for Adults

Photo: Students perform on guitar and bass at this summer’s Music Academy concert at the LightHouse Building

By popular demand we’ve added a music camp for adults. Join us in February at Enchanted Hills Retreat for our first session of Music Camp for Adults.

Who: Blind and visually impaired musicians 21 years of age and up
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind
When: Thursday, February 16 through Sunday, February 19, 2017
Cost: $300.00 plus $40.00 for transportation

This session is for musicians ages 21 years and up who are blind or have low vision. Participants should already know how to play or sing and have, at minimum, intermediate musical skills (basic chords, scales, tuning, basic instrument maintenance and general musical knowledge) in their instrument(s). Instruments can include, but are not limited to guitar, ukulele, percussion, voice, and other acoustic instruments.

The session will be by headed by Enchanted Hills Camp Enrichment Area Leader Masceo Williams and will focus less on music literacy and more on performance and “jamming” skills. Jamming, that is, improvising while playing, helps bring together a community of musicians to learn from, share, and appreciate each other’s skills. For those that are new to performing or would like to build their comfort level in performing, this camp is for you. The session will also include a songwriting workshop.

Masceo Williams is an accomplished blind musician with over 20 years of live performance experience and has taught and mentored students during Enchanted Hills summer camp sessions and Music Academy. You can learn more about him and hear his music at http://www.masceo.net.

In addition to the Music Camp students will enjoy the beauty of Enchanted Hills in winter, including gatherings around the fireplace; warm, comfortable accommodations and delicious home cooked meals prepared by our talented kitchen staff. Weather permitting, participants will have the opportunity to perform in our Redwood Grove Amphitheater.

For questions and registration, please contact Taccarra Burrell at TBurrell@LightHouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7310.

We Welcome AmeriCorps Back to Enchanted Hills This Winter

Photo: Last year members of AmeriCorps made many improvements at Enchanted Hills, including finishing deck railings, working on fencing on the horse trail above the Art Barn, designing a new tech lab for the Kiva, building a storage container for the Kiva and renovating the Enchanted Hills Recycling Center.

This winter we will be hosting 14 members of AmeriCorps who will spend six weeks improving our camp property. AmeriCorps is a core program of the federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Per their website, “AmeriCorps places thousands of young adults into intensive service positions where they learn valuable work skills, earn money for education, and develop an appreciation for citizenship. They are committed to seeing positive change in their country, and are devoting ten months of their lives to work towards this end.”

Some of the many projects AmeriCorps Volunteers are slated to tackle at Enchanted Hills are rebuilding the pool deck, updating fencing along the lake and trails, remodeling the interior of the Lodge and landscape improvements.

Enchanted Hills Camp Director Tony Fletcher told us, “Our budding relationship with AmeriCorps has become a highlight of my year. Watching these dedicated young men and woman working diligently to make a difference for our camp gives me and the rest of the Enchanted Hills Staff extra incentive to work just as hard. Under George Wurtzel’s supervision I have seen Corps members gain confidence and pride in building decks, laying flooring, constructing trails and learning about blindness that goes above and beyond a typical placement for AmeriCorps teams. We are proud to be a host sponsor for AmeriCorps.”

Know Someone With Changing Vision? Our Next Immersion Training Sessions are Coming Up

Photo: Class Picture of the September CVCL Immersion Training Session 2 Class

Fall is a time for harvest and abundance. Over the past four years, 250 students have harvested their skills and received an abundance of support, opportunities to connect and a rich introduction to skills ranging from accessing print, learning about technology to organizing their households and traveling independently.

Holli Clark of Santa Cruz County has participated in both sessions and had this to say about her experience:

“Just a note to share my big thanks for the wonderful Immersion experience! One of my big reasons for wanting to go for Immersion training was because I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I figured there were better ways of doing things than I had made up over the years. I was certainly correct in that, and am delighted to be learning many new skills. This translates to being more productive, efficient, confident, independent and safer. [The] week was packed with immeasurable value. I learned so much from each trainer and really appreciated your focus on scheduling us according to individual needs…Your staff are both exceptional trainers in their fields as well as wonderful, caring people.”

Sydney and Holli

Photo: Cooking Instructor Sydney Ferrario and CVCL student Holli Clark stand together in the Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen at the LightHouse

 We’re offering one last CVCL session before year’s end, and another in February. Details on both follow:

December Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL) Immersion Training Session 2
This session is facilitated from the new LightHouse Building in the heart of San Francisco.  The focus of this week’s training is “boots hit the ground in training”. Students participating in this week must have already received basic skills training in orientation and mobility, access technology or independent living and must be committed to focusing intently in all three of these skill areas in a small group and individual learning environment. (Please note: students do not need to have attended a previous CVCL session to attend CVCL 2 in San Francisco.)

This five day session is designed for students who are committed to full days of instruction, homework and practice in the evening and will take full advantage of the professional training time, mentoring and peer support and self-study that will be available.

Students will participate in a minimum of three of the following areas:

  1. Access Technology, including:
  • Computer training (Mac or PC) – using the software you are currently learning
  • Smart Phone Training – Apple or Android
  • Tablet Training – Apple or Android
  1. Orientation and Mobility Training 1:1
  2. Introduction to Braille
  3. Smart Cooking for Independence
  4. Low Vision Training – Using your Tools to Your Benefit
  5. Independent living skills

When: CVCL 2 will run from Monday, December 5th (arrival at 9:30 a.m. – training starts at 10:00 a.m.) through Friday, December 9 (leave at 11:00 a.m.)

Where: The session will be held in our headquarters building at 1155 Market St., 10th Floor in San Francisco. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our Student Residences.

Cost: There is a $1,300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration. It is highly recommended that all students have a solution for taking notes, such as the Victor Reader Stream (training will be provided in how to use this recording device)

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February Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Training Session 1
This session is held at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa and is specifically geared for students new to blindness and low vision. For five days, up to 14 adult students have the opportunity to develop basic skills in a range of areas – access technology; orientation and mobility; organization and labeling; magnification and lighting; cooking; braille and community, state and national resources.

The week is full, active, emotional and supportive and students are given the opportunity to meet others, to harvest their own skills and determine the direction of the quality of their lives. There are three scholarship openings for persons 55 and better living in Humboldt, Del Norte, San Francisco, Marin or Alameda County who are not consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation or the VA. For those who are consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation, we encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your counselor.

When: CVCL I will run from February 6th – 10th.

Where: The session will be held in at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa. Participants will stay overnight throughout the week in our lakeside lodgings. Transportation is available from San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin County.

Cost: There is a $1,300 fee for this training but you may qualify for partial or full scholarship if you are not already working with the Department of Rehabilitation or the Veterans Administration.

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For More Information, to Register for Session 1 or Session 2, or if you have questions, please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7357 in San Francisco; Jeff Carlson at jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-258-8496 in Marin County or Janet Pomerantz at jpomerantz@lighthouse-sf.org or 707-268-5646 in Humboldt County.

 

Blind Artisans Come out of the Woodwork, Choose Enchanted Hills for Annual Conference

Photo: A group of men stand around a large tree trunk meant for turning on a lathe.

At the end of this summer, Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat hosted a small but dedicated international organization, Woodworking for the Blind, for its first-ever conference in Napa. Our newly completed DeLong-Sweet Tactile Arts Barn in the woods of Mt. Veeder provided the perfect setting for this group of a dozen blind and low vision woodworkers to hone their skills and reinvigorate their love for tactile craftsmanship. George Wurtzel, Enchanted Hills Construction Manager and blind woodworking guru, facilitated an overall unforgettable experience. He provided guidance, training and engagement as the group learned the ins and outs of our new workshop.

If any of this intrigues, we encourage you to sign up for either of our two upcoming woodworking workshops at Enchanted Hills:

Meanwhile: Jeff Thompson, creator of the Blind Abilities podcast, was present for the whole thing, and had great things to say in his debrief after the conference. Read his essay, below.

The following is by Jeff Thompson:

WW4B stands for Wood Working for the Blind and is a group of International woodworkers that were invited to attend the Enchanted Hills Camp in the newly renovated Arts Building. This event happened over a 3 day period August 24-26 where 14 top notch blind woodworkers descended upon the 311 acres located on Veeder Mountain above Napa Valley, California.

Although this was the 5th such gathering for WW4B, this time the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco offered their facilities at Enchanted Hills Camp where George Wurtzel, Construction Supervisor, has brought his talents and knowledge and where many camp attendees will learn about wood working, the arts and mostly, gain confidence. With such a response from wood workers across the states and Canada, George invited me to assist with the event. Such an honor to be asked by George Wurtzel who I consider my guru in the area of wood working. George has done wood working his entire life and openly shares his experience with anybody willing to learn and listen.

I arrived 3 days in advance with my wife and was welcomed with open arms and some very nice people working at the camp. Caretakers Janet and Donnie and handyman Chris were inviting and made us feel comfortable from the get-go. The wood working area was huge and the new oak flooring was impressive. The Redwood deck and steps were fresh and were milled at the saw mill just up the mountain. Most of  Enchanted hills Camp is covered with Redwoods and when opportunity happens and a fallen tree is offered up by Mother Nature, the tree is traded for lumber already cut. Nice to have neighbors with a saw mill.

George and I went over the shop which consisted of 4 table saws, 3 lathes, a massive band saw, planers, jointers, full-face sanders and on and on. I realized that this shop could produce just about anything. George knew that the WW4B group would be a bit different than what he or I have been accustomed to in the past. Typically, we are teachers of those wanting to gain confidence and overcome fears by working with tools and accomplishing a goal. This group of blind wood workers were not new to wood working, they are some of the best wood workers out there. Blind or not, they are some of the best. George took the approach that the shop could handle just about anything they would want to learn and was encouraging anybody who knew more to step up and share.

This was a great opportunity for me to meet all these guys that I followed on-line, in emails and on audio over the last 10 years when I returned to wood working upon discovering the click-ruler measuring device. We did not build a project, we did not construct much at all, but we all shared ideas, experiences and how-to-do’s till just around midnight each night. We would rise for breakfast the staff prepared –  wonderful fruits and veggies, breakfast foods and most important, good coffee. Then off to the shop where each day another machine or three was the focus of discussion and discovery. Most of us had experience on the machines, however, just as the WW4B group shares emails, this moment was unique as there were 16 of us, all accomplished wood workers putting our heads and thoughts together.

The Dove-Tail Jig from Lee Valley was a new tool that was thought of as not being accessible to the Blind. We shot that notion down as a few of us went through the settings and after some trials and discoveries, we put that notion to rest. We achieved perfect dove-tails and the confidence that any one of us could use such a jig in the future.

Block gauges, centering bits, plunging routers, tapering jigs, planers and lathes were just part of the 3-day workshop.
Being open to what the wood workers wanted to do was brilliant because each one of the attendees brought something to the table and everybody took from each other. It was like being surrounded by wood encyclopedias that actually talked! I was assisting, yes, and I was soaking up as much information as I could.

The after dinner gathering was just as rewarding. Talks and discussions opened my mind to different ways of doing the same thing. And believe me, finding out a tip or trick that saves me time is a real value. Time is priceless. The WW4B took over one night and showed us some accessible devices that with a Raspberry Pie, a controller, one could use an Angle block or caliper and get audio feedback. This isn’t a produced package but this is something that these guys have cobbled together and made it work. I myself and George immediately saw the usefulness of the angle block for setting bevels and angle cuts on the compound-miter saws. We will each take one, please.

At the end of the day and at the end of the event, I was stuffed and overflowing with new information, links to check out, contacts to make and most of all, I am now part of a wood working community.

I would like to thank LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco for their vision of Enchanted Hills Camp. Learning about how they manage and care for the 311 acres of Redwoods and the preservation of the land, water and trees is encouraging as they build the infrastructure at the camp to ensure the lasting impact that Enchanted Hills will be able to deliver in the future for years to come.

 

Are You a Blind Veteran? Join us For This Very Special Weekend Retreat at Enchanted Hills

We’re celebrating Veterans Day by organizing a weekend retreat in November for Veterans who are blind or have low vision.

Who: Military Veterans of all ages who are blind or have low vision
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp
When: Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13, 2016
Cost: $100 + $40 round trip transport

It’s an opportunity to have fun at beautiful Enchanted Hills Camp while connecting with fellow veterans. Campers will enjoy recreational and social programs designed to promote a healthy and independent lifestyle, presented by the LightHouse in collaboration with Western Blind Rehabilitation Center of Palo Alto.

To sign up for this special retreat, contact Camp Director Tony Fletcher at tfletcher@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7319 for an application or with any questions.