Blind Youth Climb to the Heights at Youth Leaders Summit

Students practice communicating as they attempt to undo themselves from a human knotStudent Billy Lie attempts the Night Ropes Course, walking a tight-wire with the help of rope vines and his team matesIn late March an enthusiastic team of youth between the ages of 16 and 19 gathered at Enchanted Hills Camp for the annual LightHouse Youth Leaders’ Summit. This year’s Summit focused on honing skills and reviewing concepts that every young person needs in order to be successful in life, from school to career to their personal lives.

All of the students, volunteer mentors and teachers who participated in the Summit are blind or low vision. Participants learned important concepts such as appropriate attitude, effective communication and problem solving. For example, the students gained valuable insight into how to get ideas across verbally and non-verbally through games such as Animal Kingdom and Telephone. They were then asked to implement these new skills by problem solving situations they might encounter in the real world.

The students also listened to Keynote Speakers Lynda Johnson, M.A. and George Wurtzel. Lynda leads the Teens Together support group at Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired and discussed positive self-talk. George is our new LightHouse Camp Construction Manager at Enchanted Hills – he described how being blind has never stopped him from doing whatever he wanted to do

Each year the Summit brings home the idea that there are teachable ways that young blind people can combat the stereotypes they may face when starting out in the world. “One of the important things we want to instill,” said LightHouse Youth Coordinator Jamey Gump, “is that the inability to see doesn’t have to figure into whether you can do something or not. You don’t need sight to problem solve, to communicate clearly with people around you or to have a good attitude.”

Tino, a 16-year-old student from Belmont said, “I learned to handle situations as an effective leader and not as a bystander – I’m a better communicator now.” And mentor Joe Retherford, who is president of the California Association of Blind Students said, “I was so lucky to be a part of this amazing camp. I got to witness the maturation of the students and watch their confidence soar. The teamwork activities challenged them to their limits and they powered through to become closer as a group and that was remarkable to observe.”

If you’d like to learn about LightHouse Youth programs or be included in the next Youth Leaders Summit, as a student or as a mentor, please contact Jamey Gump, Youth services Coordinator, at 415-694-7372 or

Did you know we have a Youth Program eNewsletter? If you are a blind or a low vision youth, or the parent of someone who is blind or low vision, you need to sign up for it. This is the email that will tell you all about the LightHouse social, recreational and educational outings and adventures we offer each month, just for blind and low vision youth. You’ll also hear about scholarship and other youth related educational and leadership opportunities. To sign up for our Youth Program Newsletter, or for more information about the program, please contact Jamey Gump, Youth services Coordinator, at 415-694-7372 or