Tag Archives: Enchanted Hills Camp

Join the #GivingTuesday Movement on November 28 to Rebuild EHC

Join the #GivingTuesday movement on November 28 and donate to rebuild Enchanted Hills. Help us reach our $10,000 goal to rebuild one of the 10 cabins lost.

The holiday season is about giving, and this year we’re participating in Giving Tuesday, a one-day annual movement to spread the spirit to charitable organizations like LightHouse.

A view through the gutted staff house at Napa County's Enchanted Hills Camp.
A view through the gutted staff house at Napa County’s Enchanted Hills Camp.

In 2017, more than ever, we need your year-end charitable contributions. As many of you know, LightHouse suffered the greatest loss of our history this past year to our beloved Enchanted Hills Camp in the wake of the California wildfires. This year, we turn our Giving Tuesday efforts toward rebuilding EHC. Join the #RebuildEHC movement and make a tax-deductible donation to help us reach our goal of raising $10,000 on November 28, to contribute to the material cost of each of the 10 cabins we lost in the fire.

Over 40,000 organizations including small businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and major corporations in 98 countries have joined the #GivingTuesday movement over the last four years. Mark your calendars for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to help us reach our goal.

Donate to #RebuildEHC

You can also support our fundraising efforts by sharing our Rebuild EHC page on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #RebuildEHC. In your post, tell why YOU decided to support our efforts to Rebuild EHC better and stronger.

Thank you so much for your support.

The Baby Saints: The Story of a Heroic Rescue at Enchanted Hills Camp

This past week, EHC Site Managers Don and Janet Lay returned to their home at Enchanted Hills to resume their role of onsite staff. Enchanted Hills has a long road to rebuilding, but in celebration of this little victory, we bring you one of our favorite stories from the fire, as a tribute.

It was nearing midnight on Sunday, October 8. Smoke rolled over the mountain towards Enchanted Hills Camp. Staff stumbled out of their homes and glanced eastward and to find the entire range of hills ablaze in the distance from the nearing Nuns fire. Seeing the rising torrent of flames and high winds, the group decided on the spot to evacuate.

There were 14 people, three dogs and years of history and personal belongings to bring with them. The group packed everything and everyone into the cars they got from allcarleasing ( Click here to find out more about it), except for two little creatures who would not fit. The goats.

Janet had to think on her feet. She grabbed the hose and left it trickling into the bathtub nearby, thinking that at the very least, the goats would have water until they could escape. They patted the goats on the head, and opened the door to the stables, offering the animals their freedom if they wanted it. They said goodbye to Saint Nicholas and Saint Christopher.

Loved by campers, guide dogs and horses alike, “The Baby Saints” were a welcome addition to camp when they joined the EHC family in April 2017. Camp site staff Janet and Donny Lay rescued the two pristinely white baby goats, dubbed Saint Christopher and Saint Nicholas, from the Goat Rescue of Sonoma County. The companion goats were the latest in a series of goat herds dating back nearly ten years, who contributed to our fire abatement efforts by keep the grassy fuel load down to keep camp safe and intact. They soon became much more, and our Enchanted Hills Facebook fans and hundreds of campers came to know them as unofficial mascots.

The Baby Saints in a bright green field after arriving at EHC.
The Baby Saints in a bright green field after arriving at EHC.
Janet and Saint Christopher on the goats’ first day at EHC.
Janet and Saint Christopher on the goats’ first day at EHC.

The four-month-old goats quickly found a routine and became highly socialized, hanging with the horses from the Thacher School in the summer months and learning how to graze. They’d call out to campers walking up the road, begging for some love and attention, or frolic with camp counselor Analisa’s guide dog Walten in the stable while she worked in the pasture with the horses. They came to love people so much that they sometimes needed to be shooed away from trying to enter the dining hall.

When the horses left at the end of the summer, the goats were forlorn — but took to their jobs of grazing through the property and clearing away dense brambles and thickets.

***

After evacuating, site staff hoped to return to gather more of their personal belongings after evacuation, but it was too late. Throughout the week, they watched from temporary lodgings throughout the Bay Area as satellite imagery showed a red patchwork moving closer and closer to camp, so that soon it was right on top of the property. Janet and the team panicked, worried about the loss of their beloved home, but also for the gnawing sensation that there were two living, loving creatures still stuck up on the mountain.

On Thursday morning the fires had seemingly slackened and cooled and Janet woke up early, with new resolve. Frustrated by the road closures that blocked any entry for miles around our camp, she jumped online to see if anyone in the Napa area could get into EHC and help the goats. She discovered the Napa Community Animal Response Team (Napa CART) on Facebook and was relieved to discover that they were busy rescuing animals in the Napa area. She immediately started an email conversation that led to a few phone calls. She sent them a map of the property that indicated where the goats were likely to be found.

An hour later, Janet’s phone rang. A man on the other end said, “I’m going up to get your goats.”

Map of Enchanted Hills Camp with the stable circled in red.
Map of Enchanted Hills Camp with the stable circled in red.

Five hours later, NAPA Cart uploaded a post to Facebook:

“We have been very fortunate to help evacuate so many wonderful animals over the past few days and evacuations are continuing. Just now Saint Nicholas and Saint Christopher, these adorable 9 month old twin goats, were rescued from Mount Veeder and are now on their way to safe shelter.”

The Baby Saints were safe.

***

But where had they been? How had they managed to stay alive as flames tore through camp and across Mount Veeder, destroying dozens of EHC structures and leveling countless houses in the surrounding area?

With a little sleuthing, the pieces started coming together. The man on the phone was Sergeant Jeremy, a local Napa Animal Control worker and volunteer with the Napa CART organization.

He had set out to EHC with Janet’s map in hand, unsure if the goats would be there when he arrived. But when Sergeant Jeremy got to camp, the Baby Saints were right where Janet thought they’d be: huddled together in the bathtub near the stable, where Janet had left them a vital water source. They came running when called, relieved to find a human companion after days of fending for themselves.

The goats huddled together in the bathtub.
The goats huddled together in the bathtub.

When our photographers finally returned to camp, though, we discovered that the goats hadn’t stayed put the whole time — in fact they had had their run of Enchanted Hills in the absence of their caretakers. The stone dining hall had always been the neighborhood’s shelter-in-place structure, and the new fire-resistant roof kept it safe. The hardy pair somehow managed to force their way into the structure to take refuge, roving into the kitchen and nurse’s office, before finding their way back to their water source, where Sergeant Jeremy found them. Evidence below:

The telltale evidence of how the goats survived: goat droppings in our dining hall.
The telltale evidence of how the goats survived: goat droppings in our dining hall.

Despite having been through a lot, the goats were still frisky, Sergeant Jeremy said, recounting how he had to wrestle the little saints into a dog catcher truck, and after a brief tussle, carted them safely away from the property. No rescue mission would be complete without a tussle.

The Baby Saints spent the last few weeks on a leisurely staycation at a farm in Napa ever since, and with Janet and Donny back at camp as the site caretakers, the Baby Saints are now back home at EHC.

***

Goats may seem like odd pets to keep, but our appreciation for these little creatures goes much deeper than companionship. Between 2008 and 2013 we brought hundreds of goats to Enchanted Hills as part of an overarching fire abatement plan, to munch and maintain the underbrush and flammable wilderness that surrounds us on all sides. It is thanks to this planning that so many of the central structures in camp are still standing — including the fire-safe dining hall — where the crafty little survivors took refuge during the worst of the fire.

In some ways, we owe these humble (and insatiable) creatures a big thank you for the things that survived the fire. May they graze peacefully and heartily for years to come. A giant thank you to Napa CART, Sergeant Jeremy and the handful of EHC friends and staff who helped to complete a successful goat rescue mission.

We’re immensely grateful for the safety of our EHC site staff and the furry creatures they cohabitate with. But in order to get them back in business, there’s work to be done. Please help us Rebuild EHC after the devastating fires that led to the destruction of 29 of our structures, including the 10 cabins that have housed hundreds of summer campers and counselors every year since 1950.

Now, more than ever, Enchanted Hills needs your support and donations.

What We Will Need to Rebuild EHC

Dear LightHouse Community,

I’ve just returned from my first permitted visit to our Enchanted Hills Camp, evacuated three weeks ago with only an hour’s notice. Over the past weeks I’ve known, intellectually, many of the facts and losses caused by the fire, but visiting camp in person deepened my understanding of the damage to this very special place and why it’s essential that we rebuild it better and stronger than ever.

As I drove up to camp with camp director Tony Fletcher, most of the way up Mt. Veeder Road looked strangely untouched and beautiful. But about two miles from camp, we began to see the burned-down shells of nearly half of our neighbors’ houses, barns and outbuildings. The air turned pungent with sweet but ominous smoke and we were surprised to see hot spots still smoldering three weeks after the fires.

Such was the magnitude of the great fire, at $3.3 billion in damages it is likely the worst in California history. Talking with locals who monitored the course of the fires, it appears that Enchanted Hills was located almost in the exact location where the huge Nuns fire and Partrick fires converged. Today, the whole face of 2,600-foot Mt. Veeder appears blackened by the unprecedented inferno.

We turned into the driveway, past the main camp sign smashed by a fire truck on entry, then made our way past an improvised barricade designed to keep others out. Immediately, I heard the buzz of a portable generator powering our water system pumps; we’ve already stored away about 10,000 gallons of water fire departments used in fighting the fires on our property. The generator reminded us that there is no electricity at all at camp, and with the massive burnout of our power system’s poles and wires it’s likely it will be months until we get power everywhere we need it. We will appreciate a sizable electrical contracting company to help with our massive electric power rebuild. The fire has been very big so some of the trucks needed to help in order to carry water for the fire. As the electricity connection was out because of the big fire, good thing that semi trucks has well-charged lighting for semi trucks.

Many meadows around camp are untouched by fire, thanks to a protective heritage first undertaken starting in 2008. The open spaces, unchoked by underbrush, clearly helped protect almost all of upper camp’s buildings. A walk inside the Hogan, Lakeside cabins, or the Kiva show the spaces unburned by fire, though likely needing smoke remediation, deep cleaning and repainting. Same for the gathering house and dining hall. We’ll need painters, best carpet cleaning service and commercial dry cleaners to help with our walls, bedding and permeable surfaces.

Donate to #RebuildEHC

Walking down to the pool, camp begins to feel more like a wasteland. The decking has burned so completely as to reveal a three-foot deep pit underneath. The bathhouse has nothing left, as well as all storage buildings and the beautiful shade structure build by the Davis Kiwanis Club. With all of the delicate bushes and trees burned around the pool, the place is a stark counterpoint to the boisterous fun I remember from thousands of campers and their families.

But one detail gave me heart: The pool’s level was down three feet from normal. Why? We heard that after the fire department had drained our 20,000 gallon tanks in upper camp, they turned to the abundant pool water to help save our camp structures. Maybe that is where Los Angeles Engine #98 got the water they used to save parts of the Redwood Grove theater? We hope to find out more about these details soon. We need to repair and rejuvenate all the lost recreational spaces at camp, including the Redwood Grove Theater.

In addition to the surviving theater benches, the beautiful redwood trees still stand tall, only a few with darkened trunks. The needles far above were still green and the graceful giants will likely all survive.

We hiked down to Rose Resnick’s favorite part of camp, the lower chapel, with its creek still running even now in late October. I could feel the spirits of 90 years of blind campers down there, the girls and boys savoring the smells of quintessential California woodland. At the blackened Lower Chapel, I found the creek, but its surroundings seemed very different. All the California bay trees and Douglas firs had burned away, revealing for the first time the full Creekside formerly hidden in a green thicket of plants.

What remained was a clear, parklike stand of redwoods with an occasional oak. I fear for the titanic erosion that likely will happen this winter. We need groups, companies or organized associations who will be willing to spread seed, plant seedlings and participate in a multi-year effort to reforest EHC with the right native species and ensure for erosion control.

Walking around the Lower Chapel is now treacherous. Five-foot holes edge what’s left of the walkway, places in which hundred-foot trees used to stand.  The creek bridge and all railings are gone, as is just about all of the thousands of feet of guide rope and supports first installed in the 1950s. Safe and accessible walkways, including natural cane-detectible edging, will be a multi-year project, but one that will open up this jewel for future generations of all abilities.

As we stood in lower camp and the sun peeked out of the smoky clouds, a few local birds began to sing. There have been some squirrel sightings already, and, ironically, an unusual number of rattlesnakes have been on the move, displaced from their homes. The disturbed and newly-sunny hillsides may also be ideal for poison oak in the early years after the fire. We’ll need naturalists, botanists and those willing to get their hands dirty by removing unwanted plants and weeds as we beautify, landscape and care for camp’s new ground cover because they will be building a new home, while planing and Choosing the right house plan for you.

Donate to #RebuildEHC

I walked up the road to see what was left of the 2,000 square-foot 1927 camp cafeteria and roller rink. I found the little ramp leading up from the road to the front door, but the building had burned so furiously that only a thin ash pile remained. Tony Fletcher poked around and found the antique glass front doorknob. As I held it in my hands, the glass broke, the last remnant of nearly 90 years of blind activities in the building.

And so it went throughout the afternoon, and the more time I spent at camp the more the list of needs grew ever longer. Where were those massive picnic tables built by our neighbors? Couldn’t even find a trace of ash where they had once stood. What about the recreation field sports shed, crammed with low ropes, beep baseballs and every other kind of sports equipment? Only the concrete slab remains. What about the dozens of outdoor speakers and miles of wire strung by Mike May so that the entire camp could enjoy camp wide radio broadcasts?

For most of camp, the system is dust. All of those clever Wi-Fi access points we set up over the last year or two also don’t exist. It’s going to take wave after wave of volunteers and craftspeople to build things back even better.

Sometimes it’s the enormity of the little things that are gone that got to me. Beds, mattresses and bedding for 120 kids vanished without a trace. Dozens of dressers, chairs, desks and well-used campfire seating. Beloved cabin and trail signs and nature boxes evaporated. These are the things that blind people touched and benefited from every day. We’ll now start to build beautiful warm things for generations of campers to come.

And build it we will. I was met on property by Napa County Supervisor Ryan Gregory. As we walked through treacherous lower camp I asked him how property owners like us can possibly pay for all the debris removal or the felling of dangerous weakened trees. He said there are county programs that may be slow in operation, but they will come.

Supervisor Gregory also walked with us to the remains of our staff house, once the home of five valued camp employees. He wants to help EHC and our neighbors in any way possible. To that end, he’s paying out of his own pocket for a neighborhood informational meeting this Thursday at 5:00 p.m., held in our intact dining hall. We expect more than 100 neighbors to meet each other for the first time since the fire and band together as we build back a community stronger than ever.

If all goes as forecast the Thursday meeting will adjourn and three days of soaking rains will begin, permanently ending the fire season and beginning a new season of cleanup and reconstruction.

While I am writing this, I’ve just gotten the good news that our contractors have been able to restore some limited electrical power to our water pump house and some parts of upper camp. If our crews can do the impossible, Supervisor Gregory will be able to host our neighbors tomorrow in a dining hall brightened for the first time in nearly a month. Keep your fingers crossed for this humble victory.

And so the reconstruction begins. Of Enchanted Hills staff, all were displaced by the fires and four of them lost their homes and jobs. I am glad to learn that four of the five have already found work and a place to stay. The fifth is about to begin some long-planned international travel and will be in touch with us upon his return next year.

Our Spring House, home to our amazing site managers Donny and janet Lay, is being cleaned so they will resume full-time living on property just days from now. We’ll haul off more than a dozen refrigerators, permanently fouled by a month-long power outage.

We’ve begun accumulating tens of thousands of gallons of treated water from our spring, essential to cleanup and the health of our contractors and staff. And most importantly, we’ve begun to hear from many of you directly.

We’ve established a link for tax-deductible donations earmarked exclusively for camp reconstruction. Donate to help rebuild EHC in the aftermath of devastating fire damage.

We’ve also built a convenient way for people moved by our situation to give immediately by texting. Simply text ‘RebuildEHC’ to  501-55 and specify your donation amount when prompted.

Next Summer at EHC

Though we’ve suffered the greatest loss in our history, I want you to know we’re already thinking about ways we might build back camp in time to host limited groups this summer. If we can muster the contractors, materials and volunteers groups, our plucky camp staff and community will make a mighty effort to hold some special sessions as early as summer 2018. It won’t be anything like last year, but we intend to pioneer our own future in ways that will build a stronger camp and a stronger community for it.

In appreciation,

Bryan Bashin, CEO

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat incurs serious fire damage, makes commitment to rebuild

Help rebuild Enchanted Hills Camp stronger and better than ever.

On October 17, Enchanted Hills Camp staff – cooks, craftsmen and the property managers who work and live at the specialized Napa camp and training center for the blind – reunited at LightHouse for the Blind’s headquarters in downtown San Francisco to discuss the future of their 67-year-old camp. When the 311-acre property on Mount Veeder in Napa found itself at the center of multiple advancing fires last week, the future of the West Coast’s oldest camp for people who are blind and visually impaired was suddenly uncertain. Camp staff was able to evacuate before the mountain closed to the public, and took refuge with friends and family while waiting several days for news about their home.

On Sunday, the LightHouse finally received a few photographs of the beloved summer camp, though much of it was hard to recognize. More than a dozen structures, which housed hundreds of campers each summer, had been laid to waste by uncontrolled flames that had crossed the boundary lines into camp on the second weekend of fires in Northern California. The damage accounts for more than half of the camp’s capacity, and though reports are still inconclusive, likely includes a brand new natural redwood theater, with hand-carved benches crafted by blind artisans this summer.

“The silver lining,” says Enchanted Hills Camp director Tony Fletcher, “is though the student and staff housing is largely gone, Enchanted Hills’ core, its historic gathering spaces, remain largely intact. Because of our commitment to a fire abatement plan and all the help we’ve received enacting it over the past decade, many of these beloved buildings were spared.”

On Monday evening, LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin sent a letter to the extended blindness community throughout the United States, sharing details of the damage but also with reassurances of Enchanted Hills’ future:

“I want the large and extended LightHouse community to know that we are committed to building back Enchanted Hills Camp stronger and better than ever, both as a camp for the blind and a treasured Napa retreat center. The reconstruction of lower camp will give us opportunities to build in accessibility and modern comforts for generations of campers to come. But before that we need to tend to our staff, our operations and the planning, reforestation and construction that likely will occupy us for years to come.”

As of Tuesday morning, certain structures and vegetation was still ablaze in restricted parts of the hilly camp, though kept in check by firefighters, and it will be days if not weeks before camp staff can return to view the damage.

The LightHouse has started a dedicated fund to rebuild Enchanted Hills Camp. Should you wish to help, please consider making a donation — big or small. If you have any leads for our displaced staff in the Napa area, please email Taccarra Burrell at tburrell@lighthouse-sf.org.

Now, more than ever, Enchanted Hills needs your support and donations.

#RebuildEHC

A New Gathering Place: EHC’s Redwood Grove Theater

Over the weekend, Enchanted Hills Construction Manager George Wurtzel placed the last screw in the final hand-constructed and carved redwood benches that are the signature seating of Enchanted Hills’ new 120-person Redwood Grove Theater. It’s a project that has come to fruition over the last 10 years through patience, perseverance and unrivaled community support. And it’s ready just in time for our annual Music Academy Concert on August 12.

RSVP for our Summer Music BBQ this Saturday, 4 p.m. at Enchanted Hills in Napa.

The idea for the theater was born out of a piece of Enchanted Hills’ history relayed to us by longtime Enchanted Hills friend, counselor and historian Hope Sinclair. Hope’s father, Philip Webster, bought the land in 1927 and operated a boy’s camp there for more than 20 years. Hope herself spent much of her childhood at camp in the 1930s and 1940s and developed a detailed love for the nature and history of the place.

From conversations with Hope about the site’s history, Camp Director Tony Fletcher learned that a section of lower camp was often used for meetings and talent shows during its time as a boys camp, due to its natural acoustics. When new CEO Bryan Bashin toured camp in 2010 he instantly saw the potential to restore the disused and junk-filled natural bowl into an outdoor space of unparalleled beauty and usefulness: an outdoor theater area to host concerts, movie nights and large gatherings that would be shady in the summertime and make the most of the area’s fantastic acoustics.

Listen to this video from an impromptu performance in the theater to hear the breathtaking natural acoustics.

It was in keeping with EHC’s mission and the spirit instilled in camp by founder Rose Resnick, who was a talented musician and former concert pianist who helped make music and performance the part of everyday life at EHC that it remains today.

Starting in 2007 with the EHC fire abatement plan, a bowl started to appear as  a troupe of goats hired to clear brush in lower camp. EHC then wrangled various volunteer groups including California Conservation Core, 4H Club and the Greater Napa Kiwanis Club to help clear the area even more, and over the next 10 years the project was brought to completion with the care and collaboration of Bill Cinquini, Alan Butler, Tim Gregory Construction and George Wurtzel, EHC staff and a successful 2015 Indiegogo campaign.

“Getting the Redwood Grove built was a little bit like the LightHouse in microcosm,” says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “Waves of volunteers, AmeriCorps, metal recyclers, architects, the Kiwanis club, donations from Adobe Lumber, and of course our blind  camp construction manager, George Wurtzel, who built the benches with his own hands—this is the community and cooperation I find as beautiful and harmonious as the music you’ll hear on Saturday.”

And Tony doesn’t see the project as totally complete—yet. “This project took the creativity and commitment of many many people. I’m most satisfied to think about all the different folks who have had something to do with this. And I don’t see it as done. The theater could ultimately hold as many as 499 people, so I see it as an evolving process. Hopefully it will continually grow and develop over decades to follow.”

Thank you to the many organizations and individuals who helped bring the Redwood Grove Theater into being. We hope you’ll visit us up at camp on August 12 to witness the beautiful and one-of-a-kind fruits of our labors. Learn more and RSVP for the Music Academy Concert here.

The terraced seating and stage of the Redwood Grove Theater surrounded by lush redwoods.
The terraced seating and stage of the Redwood Grove Theater surrounded by lush redwoods. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A view from behind the stage of the Redwood Grove Theater.
A view from behind the stage of the Redwood Grove Theater. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A side view of a crowd listening to music in the Redwood Grove Theater.
A side view of a crowd listening to music in the Redwood Grove Theater. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A closeup of the redwood benches, which were individually designed and hand carved by EHC Construction Manager George Wurtzel.
A closeup of the redwood benches, which were individually designed and carved by EHC Construction Manager George Wurtzel. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.
A detail ivy pattern carved into the back of one of the benches.
A detail ivy pattern carved into the back of one of the benches. Photo by Marilyn Bogerd.

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.

A special thank you to our Music Academy Sponsors:

 

Chateau Montelena Winery Logo

 

Cotati Food Service Logo

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.