Enchanted Hills Camp for the Future
LightHouse and its extended blind community recently reimagined a daring new Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. LightHouse is poised to build out the camp to become a national year-round center for discovery, learning and life transformation for blind people and people who have low vision. The Building Blind Ambition campaign (link to brochure) is laying the foundation to make Enchanted Hills Camp the premiere camp and retreat in the West, and beyond.
For 70 years, Enchanted Hills Camp has been a remarkable center where blind campers immerse themselves in a community of peers and allies. Through our Building Blind Ambition campaign, (link to brochure) Enchanted Hills will continue the tradition of programs offered nowhere else. Now we’re building a first-of-its-kind, year round natural center for blindness learning.
Enchanted Hills Reimagined – Why Now?
The 2017 wildfires, while devastating, gave us a unique opportunity to speed up LightHouse’s existing plans to upgrade the 70-year-old rustic camp. For decades we’ve wanted to winterize our cabins and make the trails and buildings fully accessible. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new urgency to build healthy outdoor learning and gathering spaces.
In January 2021, Napa County granted us the conditional legal entitlements to rebuild our facilities after the fire, but only if all construction is underway no later than October 2022. This is why now is the time for generous capital donations to help us build the camp that blind kids need and deserve.
Features of the new Enchanted Hills Camp
Our new buildings:
- Cozy family cabins and youth bunkhouses for year-round use
- A unique, indoor/outdoor dining pavilion
- Tactile Arts Center with woodworking shop and ceramics studio
- Tech and STEM Center
- Training Kitchen
- New Pool House
- New Enchanted Hills Farm
- Tripling the accessible hiking trails and new remote sleeping platforms
- An idyllic treehouse above camp
- A net-zero energy footprint, with a state-of-the-art solar system
- Camper managed recycling and composting
- Vegetable gardens and fruit orchards
About our campers
While blindness can affect anyone, there is a higher incidence within very low-income families due to unequal access to healthcare and other forms of discrimination. We welcome all young people who are blind, regardless of their ability to pay. Half of Enchanted Hills campers are Black, Latinx, Asian and other people of color. The majority of campers live in low- and moderate-income households. Blind kids are often left on the sidelines, sitting on the bench while sighted kids participate in sports, hands-on projects and science labs.
Enchanted Hills is social justice in action, blind camp levels the playing field for campers from all backgrounds, resulting in increased confidence and ultimately, better educational and employment success.
Enchanted Hills Camp is one of the most special places in my district. In addition to the wonderful opportunities it provides to the blind community, it also serves as an ideal meeting place for the Mt. Veeder-area community. It was in 2017 when I became most familiar with the Camp under unfortunate circumstances—when the Nuns Fire ripped through the area and burned portions of the property. I was amazed at how quickly the Camp’s leadership went from loss to “let’s get to work on rebuilding,” setting a standard for resiliency and strength for the entire community. Whether it’s volunteering to run tandem bike rides for wellness camp, helping the Camp rebuild after fire or generally helping to further its mission, I will stand by their side as long as they need me.
Get Involved: Build Blind Ambition at Enchanted Hills Camp
The Building Blind Ambition campaign will result in more immersive programs, for more campers, more often. The up-front capital cost to build our world-class camp, learning center and retreat will impact blind lives for the next one-hundred years.
When was EHC founded?
Rose Resnick, a blind musician, teacher and philanthropist founded Enchanted Hills in 1950: the first camp of its kind on the West Coast. 2020 was the 70th anniversary of the camp’s founding.
What is the vision?
To create a modern, custom designed, universally accessible indoor/ outdoor camp, international training and retreat center on 311 acres above Napa Valley.
Why is this important?
Enchanted Hills Camp is now the only camp serving blind and low vison babies, youth, adults and their families in the American West.
How many new structures will be built at Enchanted Hills Camp?
- The Blindness Training Lab and STEM Center
- The Forest Commons training kitchen, dining and program space
- Six new winterized and heated family cabins
- Four new winterized camper bunkhouses
- Spacious, new pool house and shade structure
- Accessible multi-sport court
- Accessible farm with animals, vegetable gardens and fruit orchard
- Tactile Arts Center
- Miles of accessible hiking trails and camping platforms
- Three new footbridges
- Replacement stage in the outdoor Redwood Grove Amphitheater
- Fully accessible treehouse
- A net-zero energy footprint, powered by camp-wide solar power
- Reforestation of the property with oak and redwood saplings
- Improvements to necessary camp infrastructure: roads, electrical, water, broadband internet, emergency power, and fire safety abatement
When will this happen?
Phase I is already complete with renovation of the camp’s legacy buildings, new pool house and shade structure and new spacious utility garage with office. Phase II is slated to begin October 2022.
Where are the funds coming to transform Enchanted Hills Camp?
Approximately $23 million in funds will come from fire insurance proceeds, damage settlements and other non-charitable sources, including the Lighthouse’s own endowment. The Building Blind Ambition capital campaign goal is $10 million.
How can gifts be made?
Charitable, tax-deductible contributions and grants can be made as immediate gifts, as multi-year pledges, in stock transfer, or as in-kind contributions. Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.
How many programs are offered at Enchanted Hills each year?
On average EHC offers 14 programs for blind and low vision individuals and families.
How many campers attend camp?
In a typical year, 450 campers and their families enjoy more than 18,000 hours of programming at EHC each year.
I first heard about EHC from my teacher and a former camper back in my sophomore year of high school. I remember everything about driving down the driveway my first year, nervous and very excited. I saw a huge group of blind people using canes (I had gotten mine just that year). For once I did not feel alone. Later that day we had a pool party, and I remember meeting another girl with my vision diagnosis. I felt so connected because I found someone like me. I did not really know anyone who was visually impaired. I am the only one in my family and was the only one in my schools. From my first year I fell in love with camp and wanted to return.