Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) kicked off the first six weeks of summer with four fun-filled camp sessions for our youngest and eldest campers. We opened our cabin doors in early June to our first bunch of campers at Deafblind Camp. Our LightHouse Little Learners and their families made their EHC debut the following weekend and began what is sure to be a new summer tradition. We were delighted to welcome back our campers 21 and older for the first Adult Camp session since the summer of 2019. First-time campers and longtime friends made the most of their time in our enchanted redwood retreat: hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, crafting, creating, playing, and laughing. We look forward to hosting more campers in August.
Ever since EHC was founded by Rose Resnick (blind activist, educator, and leader) in 1950, LightHouse has been proud to provide a happy and blind-positive environment where blind and low vision people of all ages can grow, explore, and connect – with nature, with each other, with themselves – but the true magic of Enchanted Hills Camp is our campers and the value each and every one of them brings to EHC. Camper Jane reflected on her time at camp this summer:
Thank you, Rose Resnick, for your visionary spirit. You aimed beyond boundaries. You forged pathways of lifelines and lifetime connections.
You and I met back in the 1970s. You, the persistent, passionate, and sincere woman who wrote and delivered her 60-second advocacy speeches on behalf of the blind every few months on KGO-TV, Channel 7 in San Francisco. Me, the Assistant Director of Community Affairs handled the “Speak Freely” community messages. Your name was memorable, as was your demeanor: gentle, kind, and articulate. I laugh to myself now as I realize how routinely we had always prepared hand- written cue cards for each guest to read and deliver their messages. And, of course, now I realize your hands were reading braille notes!
Fast forward to today, nearly 50 years later. I’m basking in the afterglow of experiencing Enchanted Hills Camp 2022… the magnitude and magnificence of sincere love, care, compassion, kindness, support, and camaraderie.
Here are a few of my lasting impressions….
—Priceless. Seen and acknowledged as an asset. Not a liability.
—Poetry Workshop poem: Same. Same. You. Me.
—Beyond imagination. The wholly huge support of our young counselors. Not a moment to fear, knowing their gentle voices, guiding
, and helping hands, and support were always nearby.
—According to the accordion, and tunes of Venus and Mars life abounds with upright and downright jamming music, spontaneity, twilight zones, and picnics!
—Wouldn’t it be wonderful to greet morning light as birds do… bursting into perfect pitch and song? Greeting the new day with sounds of joy and delight! I’m afraid of what’s ahead…
—Been too long since I’ve freely laughed and smiled and clapped hands, stomped my feet, hooted and hollered, listened to live music and simply shared comfort and joy with others!
— “Something” in the way Dylan and Hanna harmonize and “wOOooooOO!” Believing in HOW. NOW.
—First time holding a bow and arrow. It won’t be the last. New revelation: it’s a meditative art. Focus. Hold deep breath. Extend reach. Let go.
—At the chapel, outside finds inside. One strike on Bill’s meditative bowl. Maddie makes it sing. With mallet, she traces the rim again and again.
—Thanks, Brent. You illuminated life’s orientation beyond South, West, North, East. Adding upwards to Sky, downwards to earth and hands covering our hearts completing the connection to ourselves.
—Rose knew. Rose knows. No one could be finer than Tony as the guiding heart, mind, body, and soul of Enchanted Hills Camp.
We don’t walk alone. We hold our heads high. We’re less afraid of the dark. We walk on with the tap of our white canes, guide dogs, human guides and enchanted hearts and souls graced by nature with Rose.
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.
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.
“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:
Enchanted Hills Camp is located atop Mt. Veeder in Napa, CA. The address is 3410 Mt. Veeder Rd., Napa, CA 94558.
On Public Transit
Downtown Napa may be reached by a number of busses, namely the Napa Airporter or the #29 Vine bus originating at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station in the East Bay. Once dropped off (at Justin Sienna High School), traveler must arrange for a driver to ferry them to 3410 Mt. Veeder Rd., Napa, CA 94558.
With no traffic, EHC is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from San Francisco and the East Bay.