Tag Archives: Enchanted Hills Camp

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. Learn more about fencing at http://aaafencemaster.com/color-of-vinyl-fences-all-you-need-to-know-about-them-and-how-to-get-the-right-color-for-fence/.

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)


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.


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. Aagard Group manufactures top quality packaging automation machines used around the world, they will be helping package the work that the artisans make.

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.

You’re invited to an Enchanted Hills Camp Fundraiser Trunk Show at the New LightHouse Building

Shop for a Cause: The Stella & Dot Fundraiser is a Fun Way to Support Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind
Join LightHouse Board Member Gena Harper at a Stella & Dot fundraiser at the new Lighthouse Building. Proceeds will go towards the transformative programs of Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind.

Gena says, “As a Stella & Dot stylist I’m offering personalized shopping assistance for accessorizing stylishly. Come get fashionable for the holidays, update your fall wardrobe, or get help with gift giving ideas. Proceeds from the sales will go to Enchanted Hills Camp. We plan to have some fun while we help you get chic for the season!”

Enchanted Hills Camp Fundraiser Trunk Show
Hosted by: Gena Harper and Bindhi Millar
When: Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco 94103
Refreshments will be served
Find great holiday presents for your family, friends and yourself.
Win a pair of Aftershocz headphones and other prizes in a raffle

Click here to RSVP.

You don’t have to be present to take part.  Purchase Stella and Dot jewelry and other most popular rings between now and November 15th and proceeds will benefit Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. Start shopping here.

Our Popular Woodworking Workshop with George Wurtzel Returns in the New Year

Photo: Surrounded by woodworking tools and machinery, George Wurtzel works on a wooden bowl in the DeLong-Sweet Tactile Arts Barn at Enchanted Hills.

Join expert carpenter George Wurtzel at our popular workshop for both beginning and experienced woodworkers.

This class will cover wood turning, hand tool work and an introduction to power tools. We’ll learn how to measure accurately without sight, using click rules, gauge blocks, Vernier calipers and talking tape measures. We’ll talk about wood types and construction techniques and learn when to glue, when to nail and when to use screws. We’ll also touch on finishing techniques.

Who: Adults (ages 21 and older) who are blind or have low vision and are eager to learn woodworking
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp
When: Thursday, February 16 through Sunday, February 19, 2017
Cost: $300.00 plus $40.00 for transportation
Class is limited to six participants, so sign up now.

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

Winter in the Redwoods – a Tranquil Time at Enchanted Hills Retreat

Photo: A cabin surrounded by redwood trees at Enchanted Hills.

Redwood trees love the rain. They get greener, release aromatics into the air and you can almost hear the growth in their needles. And the many creeks that snake through the 311 acres of Enchanted Hills become full and raucous, a wonderful thing to behold.

Come experience the beauty and natural cacophony of Enchanted Hills in the winter months. Throughout the rest of the year, Enchanted Hills is a bustling place, full of blind campers having fun, trying new things, meeting mentors and other blind kids like them. But in the winter, things on Mount Veeder slow down a bit and it’s a perfect time to hold that family reunion, church retreat or corporate off-site you’ve been planning. With indoor amenities, lodging and delicious meals, Enchanted Hills Retreat is an affordable and beautiful place to bring your group of 30 to 100, and there are discounted rates during January and February.

And you know what’s even better? Your retreat in Napa supports the life-changing programs for blind campers at Enchanted Hills.

To take a tour or check availability call (415) 694-7310 or email afletcher@lighthouse-sf.org. For photos and more information visit www.enchantedhillsretreat.com.

Watershed Conservation Project Makes Enchanted Hills Camp Better for Fish and Other Creatures

Photo: Tractor and excavator machinery restoring Wing Canyon stream at Enchanted Hills Camp.

For over ten years, Enchanted Hills Camp has partnered with Napa Resource Conservation District to look at ways to provide better stewardship of our waterways and mitigate erosion problems at camp. After years of discussion, design and implementation, we are happy to report the completion of our project.

This summer Enchanted Hills and Napa Resource Conservation District worked to prevent sediment from our hillsides from running into creeks. Keeping sediment out of our creeks and streams is a critical measure that protects the habitat of fish such as the steelhead trout.

The project has also transformed two miles of dirt road – keeping 4,759 cubic yards of sediment – enough to fill more than 400 commercial dump trucks – out of local waterways over the next 20 years. “Road systems are perhaps the most significant and easily controlled sources of sediment production and delivery to stream channels,” said a 2004 Napa Resource Conservation District report on Wing Canyon Creek.

Bill Birmingham

Photo: Bill Birmingham, Conservation Project Manager, Napa County Resource Conservation District standing on the Wing Canyon Trail demonstrating the straw hay and grass seeding work to channel water into the stream from eroding hillside.

Some of the improvements were made at creek crossings. Workers replaced undersized culverts with bigger culverts. At the site where that bulldozer was recently at work, we are simply removing three culverts altogether to create a creek-level crossing.

Away from creek crossings, dirt roads can funnel water to certain runoff points. That high-intensity runoff erodes creek banks, according to the Napa County Resource Conservation District. To combat this, workers have created “rolling dips” along the dirt roads, like the gentlest of a children’s roller coaster. “Rolling dips” spread out the drainage points and will protect our roads and trails from slipping away and eliminating our ability to access our own property.

Images of an Enchanted Summer

Photo: Camper Gregory Collier receives instruction from Recreation Area Leader Anthony Dali on how to place an arrow on the bow.

In August Enchanted Hills Camp wrapped up a glorious summer of sessions for blind children, adults and their families. We’re proud to say that this summer we hosted 460 campers and that those we surveyed had this good news to report:

  • Ninety-six-percent of teens, and 86-percent of youth agreed that their network of blind friends increased because of camp.
  • Eighty-five to 87-percent of campers said that they had an increase or a significant increase in connections to the blindness community.
  • Ninety-seven-percent of campers showed improvement in their blindness proficiency in daily living skills.
  • One hundred percent of campers reported showing positive change in their levels of self-confidence and independence.

Our heartfelt thanks to the nearly 50 volunteers who donated a combined 3800 hours of their time. You are gold!

Here are some photo highlights from our Kids and Teens sessions:

Enchanted Hills Kids Session

Bella Nordrum and Heaven Vallejos

Photo: New pals, campers Bella Nordrum and Heaven Vallejos share smiles and laughter as they celebrate finishing their chemistry project.

Anthony Sanchez

Photo: Camper Anthony Sanchez sits and explores with his hands the cloud of liquid nitrogen he helped create in the science project during STEM Camp.

Hoby Wedler

Photo: Hoby Wedler, Ph.D., instructs a room full of eager STEM participants in the Hogan on how to create liquid nitrogen.

Nasir and Luke on Cardiac Hill

Photo: Counselor Nasir Aqbal walking and laughing with Luke Pillar as they walk up our world-famous “Cardiac Hill”.


Enchanted Hills Teen Session

Ezra White walks with fellow campers

Photo:  A group of campers led by first year camper Ezra White (who travelled all the way from Hawaii to join us this summer) return from their woodworking class under the canopy of olive trees.

Chris Thompson works with Billy and Jenna

Photo: Volunteer Instructor Chris Thompson works with campers Billy Lei and Jenna Baylis on how to defend themselves during a karate lesson.

George Wurtzel works with Ezra White

Photo: Woodshop instructor George Wurtzel demonstrates a cutting technique to camper Ezra White.