As visitors wind their way up Mt. Veeder Road, past the lush redwoods, sparkling lake, and rolling green hills of Napa, the once quiet grounds of Enchanted Hills Camp are again filled with the delightful sounds of happy campers. The crunching of leaves and twigs under excited footsteps, clicking of canes, splashes of water, nays and baas of EHC’s four-legged residents and the jolly echoed shouts and laughter from campers fill the air—it is, once again, summertime at Enchanted Hills Camp!
On July 5, Enchanted Hills Camp reopened its grounds to 45 eager teen campers. After being closed for over a year, EHC has been thrilled to reopen this summer, abiding by CDC state and federal COVID-19 safety protocols. Although the limited campers, mask wearing, social distance, and required vaccinations of both campers and staff has certainly changed the look of camp this summer, the fun and festivities haven’t changed in the slightest!
“Campers are filling their days horseback riding, kayaking, playing disc golf, participating in Teen Talk rap sessions and talent shows. The kids are dancing, hiking, taking overnight camping trips into the woods, solar cooking, and fishing. They can care for our EHC animal friends (milking goats and collecting eggs from chickens) and do some wood polishing and wood working. They are putting on drama productions, training in martial arts and archery, playing goalball and bowling, and making ice cream and arts and crafts, just to name a few activities.” Enchanted Hills Camp Director, Tony Fletcher, tells LightHouse Lately.
New campers, 17-year-old twin sisters, Madison and Paige from Arroyo Grande, California, share their first impressions and experience at teen camp.
“We heard about Enchanted Hills Camp through our DOR [Department of Rehabilitation] counselor, so we were interested. We loved it once we got here! It is so much fun! There is so much to do, you never feel bored or like you are just sitting around waiting for something fun. Right now, we are working on a play, and we’ve done a lot of arts and crafts. We also tie-dyed bandanas. We are definitely coming back next summer!”
Both girls have nystagmus and ocular albinism and have low vision.
“With nystagmus it is hard to focus my eyes on things, like when I am reading my eyes jump across the page. The ocular albinism makes my eyes very sensitive to the sunlight,” Madison explains.
Aside from each other, neither Paige nor Madison knew any other peers with visual impairments prior to going to camp. Learning more about low vision and the blind community has become an interest and priority for these young women.
“We have never been around anyone with vision like ours or people with less vision. We want to be more involved in the blind and visually impaired community,” Paige says. “We have made a lot of new friends at camp. It is so relieving to be around people like us.”
Madison and Paige reflected on their camp experience:
“Overall, I have learned a lot about people who are visually impaired, and not just about people who have what I have. I have learned so much about adaptability and the blind community, and I am very grateful for that,” Paige says.
“I am also so grateful for camp. I have never seen anyone use a cane before, and it is so interesting to me to see how everyone gets around using their canes. I like how specific people are when they describe how to get to places and how they tap the walls as a guide. I’ve also learned how to guide people who can’t see, and I think it is so helpful and interesting,” says Madison.
In their remaining days at Enchanted Hills Camp Paige and Madison are excitedly looking forward to performing the play, making bath bombs, and trying their hand at archery, as well as hanging out with their new friends and strengthening their bond to the blind and low vision community. “We can’t wait to come back next summer!” they told LightHouse Lately.
There are still available spaces for EHC’s STEM camp, running from July 26 through August 1 for campers aged 13- to 20-years-old. Visit Enchanted Hills Camp STEM Camp Applications to get your application in as soon as possible. We also have limited availability left for Music Camp, also running July 26 through August 1. This session is for campers ranging from high school to college ages. Fill out the Enchanted Hills Camp Music Camp Applications here. For more information about Enchanted Hills Camp, visit the EHC website.