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This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This Year Marked the Return of the YES Academy to EHC

This summer, LightHouse was thrilled to bring back the Youth Employment Services (YES) Summer Academy. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and health and safety protocols, last year we ran the program virtually. This year we were back in person with a slightly re-designed program to accommodate the safety of our students and staff while still keeping the fun, interactive elements and activities we’ve always valued in the academy. Our participants spent this four-week program at Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) where the spacious and lush grounds allowed for safe, socially distanced outdoor instruction.

YES is a program designed to educate and prepare youth who are blind or have low vision ages 16 to 24 for a successful future, focusing primarily on employment and independent living skills. During the Summer Academy, our participants are given the opportunity to fill their summer with engaging and valuable pre-employment learning experiences, independent living training, employment readiness seminars, mentoring conversations, discussions about self-advocacy in equality and inclusion in the workplace, not to mention all the memorable social activities and building connections with friends and mentors.

The four weeks were broken down into goal-based themes. The first week was “Your Skills, Your Goals Bootcamp.” Week two focused on expanding employment knowledge and networking in the community. YES ended its program with workshops in learning to grow one’s resume and work experience in weeks three and four.

The students documented their experiences throughout these four weeks by writing blogs. First time participant, a young woman with low vision named Tatiana, reflected on her time at the YES Summer Academy.

“I’ve always said and knew I didn’t want to have to rely on my family, friends, and others to help me go on in life and do whatever it is I may need to do, but deep down there was always that worry of what seemed at the time to be an inevitable fact that I’d have no choice and I would need to come to terms with always needing some kind of reliance. However, after going through this program and learning and practicing what I have for the first time in my life, that thought and doubt is no longer there. I have confidence in knowing I will be able to go on in life confidently by myself.

“Not only has the program taught me new skills but it has given me a newly found hope and excitement. I’m not fully blind but I still struggle in places where visual problems are not noticed often. After staying at the camp where everyone is visually impaired it’s made me feel more accepted. I have never realized that the stereotypes used to describe the blind community are the farthest thing from true. I’ve been inspired and cannot wait to return to Enchanted Hills Camp and the YES Academy where I have learned that my vision does not define me.”

Another YES participant, Heaven, had the opportunity to gain work experience by working as Recreation Assistant at the Enchanted Hills Teen Camp session that was going on simultaneously with YES in the last weeks of the program.

“The first few days of my work experience as the Recreation Assistant, I observed how the Area Leader taught the campers what to do, and after that I led some of the activities. I learned more about Archery, and a new sport known as Disc Golf. I’ve learned many things through working this job, mainly how to talk to a large crowd of people. I met a lot of the campers and staff and learned about them as well. It is a very interactive job, which I like because it helps me be better at talking with other people. This job gave me skills I will be able to use in the future. It tested my communication skills, and ability to problem solve. It also tested my memorization skills, because I had to memorize people’s names and what order they were in for certain recreational activities. The experience was a good one, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work this job. I love sports and now I have a way to teach them to other blind people, and a way to explain them if I ever need to. It was a valuable experience.”

YES offers different programs and workshops year-round. If you are or if you know any blind and low vision youth ages 16 to 24 who are interested in preparing for their future, you can contact Youth Programs Assistant, Daisy Soto, at DSoto@lighthouse-sf.org, or by calling 415-694-7328. LightHouse youth activities are not just summer only, but every month, all year long. Visit our Youth Programs department page on our website or check out our online calendar for upcoming events and programs.

Welcome back, EHC!

Welcome back, EHC!

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.

Things are going real “well” at EHC

Things are going real “well” at EHC

Thank you for joining us for the first two Enchanted Hills Camp Give Back concerts of the season! If you missed them, you can watch both on the EHC Facebook page.

Our next concert is taking place on Friday July 16 from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm starring Mariana Sandoval Lintz.

This year our goal is to raise $20,000 for a new well at EHC.

A new well will allow us to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on water from our spring. The well will ensure that we have adequate water for campers without worry and enable us to store and pump water for the driest seasons. In the driest years, the spring has just barely covered our water needs during the busiest camp sessions. One year, alarmingly we had to truck in water. With a drought upon us once more, we sought to remedy this issue by prospecting for a new well. We did it! We struck liquid gold, in the form of H2O. The well production is estimated at 20,000 gallons of water per day which is enough to fill the EHC swimming pool daily.

Situated near the Rec Field, the new well will ensure that we have adequate water for campers. It will also enable us to take on projects never possible before such as leveling the Rec Field and getting rid of the ankle-twisting divots and bumps and irrigating the field for beep baseball, audible soccer and other team sports. Growing fruit trees and vegetable gardens that campers will tend will also be possible.

Great news! The five largest donors to this project will have the special honor of choosing names for EHC’s newest residents, five baby goats! Donate today to help us dig and erect this well, put in the pipes and pumps to carry the water where it is needed.

We are hoping to raise $20,000 to harness this precious natural resource and we need your help. You don’t need a ticket or even a Facebook account to enjoy these concerts, but we do need your support to help us sink this well.

You can also Support the EHC well project by purchasing an EHC tee-shirt. Or text any amount to give for the EHC well project to 415-707-7864.

Enchanted Hills Camp “Give Back” Summer Concerts

Enchanted Hills Camp “Give Back” Summer Concerts

This summer we’re hosting a series of virtual music concerts on Facebook Live to support Enchanted Hills Camp. Each concert will be headlined by musicians with a passion for and connection to Enchanted Hills Camp.

The schedule for July is:

July 2:
Masceo Williams 5:30 to 6:30 pm
July 16: Mariana Sandoval-Lintz 5:30 to 6:30 pm
July 31: EHC Music Camp Students 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Each concert will be hosted on Facebook Live on our Enchanted Hills Camp Facebook page. You don’t need a Facebook account to join.

We’re asking for your help to raise $20,000 for a new well at EHC. A new well will allow us to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on water from our spring. In the driest years, the spring has just barely covered our water needs during the busiest camp sessions. One year, alarmingly we had to truck in water. With a drought upon us once more, we sought to remedy this issue by prospecting for a new well. We did it! We struck liquid gold, in the form of H2O. The well production is estimated at 20,000 gallons of water per day which is enough to fill the EHC swimming pool.

The new well will also ensure that we have adequate water for campers without worry and take on new projects. We are leveling the Rec Field, getting rid of the ankle-twisting divots and bumps, and irrigating the field for beep baseball, audible soccer and other team sports. Fruit trees and vegetable gardens that campers tend will also be possible.

A black baby goat born spring 2021 at Enchanted Hills Camp

The five largest donors to this project will have the special honor of choosing names for Enchanted Hills newest residents, five new baby goats.

Support EHC by purchasing an EHC tee-shirt.

Text any amount to give for the EHC well project to 415-707-7864.

Donate to Enchanted Hills Camp

Singalongs and Smores: EHC to Hold Virtual Kids Camp Starting July 5

Singalongs and Smores: EHC to Hold Virtual Kids Camp Starting July 5

Last week we brought you news about Enchanted Hills Camp’s (EHC’s) Adult Virtual Camp Session. It’s part of the multiple virtual sessions we are offering this summer, some at camp and some virtual, as we build back COVID-safe programs.

Well the good news continues; EHC is also offering a virtual camp session for elementary and middle schoolers!

The fun starts on July 5 and runs through Saturday, July 10 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm every day. Each day’s activities will be led by staff and counselors-in-training who are blind or have low vision.

But what are some of those activities? They include a virtual campfire, complete with smores, camp songs, music trivia, stories of EHC, origami and an EHC trivia contest.

But, wait you say, what’s this about smores? If you sign your children up for Youth Virtual Camp by Friday, June 25, you will be mailed a Camp Care Package which includes a braille and large print version of camp songs, and EHC wrist band, origami paper and yes, the ingredients to make those tasty smores.

Youth Services Coordinator Jamey Gump can’t wait for camp. “So many of our campers come from all over. I’m excited to welcome them to our youth session virtually where they’ll get the chance to deepen their connections to the EHC community,” he says.

What: Enchanted Hills Camp Youth Virtual Camp Sessions
Who: Elementary & Middle schoolers who are blind or have low vision
When: 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily from Monday July 5 through Saturday, July 10
RSVP: Jamey Gump at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org 415- 694-7372

Parents & Guardians: We’d love your help getting your children connected to our virtual program, however once they have joined, we ask that you please give them the space to participate individually.

First in Our Returning EHC Give Back Concert Series

First in Our Returning EHC Give Back Concert Series

Photo Caption: Derek and Shane Dittmar

Last year we brought you the Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) “Give Back” summer concert series. Throughout the summer months when camp was silent, people from all over took part as best they could and listened online to an incredible array of performers who shared their talents to help support Enchanted Hills Camp. Well, it seems we may have started a new tradition, as the “Give Back” concerts are back, and camp director Tony Fletcher couldn’t be more thrilled.

“We are very pleased to once again offer a summer series of virtual concerts by musicians whose lives have been positively impacted by the programs at Enchanted Hills Camp. Our musicians will be raising funds to help us improve Enchanted Hills camp’s water storage.

“For three generations the camp’s parched recreation field lacked the summertime water to irrigate it and support a lush lawn. The rec field is the largest level sports area in our entire camp. Now we have a plan to develop a well water system which will keep the field green all year round. The pumps, storage tanks, well and other infrastructure costs approximately $25,000. We hope our community can raise that amount by September. Please join us for interviews and great music all summer long.”

The concerts will run every two weeks from June 18 to August 13. Up first on June 18 are brothers Derek and Shane Dittmar who are both blind playing original and cover songs: Derek on guitar and Shane on piano. Derek shared with us why he loves performing to support EHC, to which he feels a deep connection.

“I started as a camper at EHC around 2006. Every summer I couldn’t wait to fly out from Raleigh and spend a week in the mountains with my friends. I learned how to play sports, make music, maintain life-long friendships, and feel confident. EHC felt like home, and I was privileged to work as the Enrichment Area Leader in 2012 and 2013. The camp, its staff, and its energy will always be a part of me.

“EHC is special for a thousand reasons, but chief among them is that it presents the typical summer camp experience to people who don’t normally get that chance. Risk is something not often given to people with disabilities, so to have a place where I could be myself, completely and confidently, meant the world. I could experiment and explore and, when things were unexpected, find a way to redirect and fix them myself.  Staff was always there to help if I wanted, and to make sure that everyone was safe, but it was a chance to live my life on my terms and to learn who I was, both because of and in spite of my blindness.”

Derek started playing the bass guitar when he was eleven, “less because I had a pull towards bass and more because my incredibly talented brother was starting a band and that was the instrument, he didn’t have covered,” he laughs.

Now Derek is a civil defense attorney in Raleigh but playing and listening to music are ways in which he keeps himself grounded.

He’s keeping exactly what he’ll be treating us to on June 18 close to his chest.
“I perform original folk rock/Americana music. I currently plan on doing a few original songs written over the past two or three years, though I may throw a cover in, depending. My influences include Jason Isbell, Jackson Brown, Dawes, and Glen Hansard.”

Derek, we can’t wait!

The first EHC Give Back Concert with Derek and Shane Dittmar is on Friday, June 18 from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm Pacific.

Where: Enchanted Hills Camp Facebook Page. No Facebook account is required and no tickets either. However, your contributions to the green rec field water system will go a long way to improve our rebuilding of camp so people like Derek and Shane continue to test boundaries and take risks there for years to come.

There’s no need to wait for the concert to give back to EHC. Donate via text by texting the amount you wish to give to 415-707-7864.

Support EHC with this Great Shirt. All funds raised will go directly to LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Donate to EHC

The LightHouse 2020 LightHouse Annual Report is Here

The LightHouse 2020 LightHouse Annual Report is Here

2020 was a highly unusual year for everyone around the world. Despite such unprecedented circumstances, we are proud to present the 2020 Annual Report, documenting how LightHouse supported the blind community through a global pandemic in new and innovative ways.

In 2020 we were proud to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Enchanted Hills Camp, and announced ambitious plans to reimagine the entire camp as a global center for blindness, with construction planned over the next few years.

In other news, big things happened at LightHouse Industries: Sirkin Center, LightHouse’s blind labor-force manufacturing plant. We expanded the production line, including adding a hard surface cleaner effective at killing the novel coronavirus. We doubled our staff and hired a blind scientist to oversee the product blends. Our customer base of government agencies and private companies continues to grow, and so do the employment opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision. Watch the BBC’s coverage of Sirkin Center’s unprecedented growth.

Read on to learn more about LightHouse and its 2020 achievements in the annual report in PDF or Word format.

Did Chris Downey make it across the English Channel?

Did Chris Downey make it across the English Channel?

Last Saturday, April 17, LightHouse held its annual Cycle for Sight fundraiser for Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC). After cancelling Cycle for Sight in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were thrilled to bring the event back, this year in a virtual format.

Participants first gathered Saturday morning on Zoom for an opening ceremony, before getting down to business and exercising for at least 90 minutes, by hiking, running, swimming, and yes cycling, before gathering for an afterparty in the afternoon.

Two weeks ago we brought to you the story of Chris Downey, renowned architect who is blind and the immediate past LightHouse Board President and current board member. Chris has taken part in Cycle for Sight for the past ten years. This year, with the event’s virtual format, Chris used his garage rowing machine, along with some high-tech gadgets, to row across the English Channel a distance of 33.8 kilometers.

So how did it go? HE DID IT!!
Chris says:

“It was a fun experience and I’m thrilled it paid off with this level of support to the LightHouse and Enchanted Hills Camp. the (virtual) water was splendid as was the weather. The row was intense  – especially the extra 15K  beyond my weekly Saturday row. All went according to plan and I was able to knock it out without injury or total exhaustion. That said, there was nothing left in the tank had there been any challenge to row back to the other side! I could sense a little protest from my body when resuming my regular workout routine this morning – no pain, just lethargy!”

Oh and what’s more? Chris raised $15,500 for EHC.

Thank you, Chris!

This Year, Roll Your Own Cycle for Sight

This Year, Roll Your Own Cycle for Sight

We’re thrilled to announce the return of Cycle for Sight, an annual fundraiser for Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) that we’ve held for nearly 20 years. Cycle for Sight is run in partnership with the Rotary Club of Napa. Through Cycle for Sight, we raise funds for camperships.

Last year, in the beginning months of the pandemic, Cycle for Sight, like many other events, was cancelled. A year later, after we’ve all learned how to hold events online, Cycle for Sight returns, in virtual form.

Traditionally, Cycle for Sight involves people riding bike routes of 15, 25, or 50 miles through the landscapes of Napa Valley to raise funds for EHC. Many blind and sighted bike riders team up to share the experience together on a tandem bicycle. This year’s virtual format provides new opportunities, which Camp Director Tony Fletcher is excited about.

“I encourage people to use the day to do some form of creative exercise. You can still ride a bike for 15, 25 or 50 miles, or you can do something else that involves 90 minutes of exercise, like hiking, swimming, running, or walking. It’s great that people who haven’t been able to participate in Cycle for Sight before will have many ways to do so this year.”

On April 17, the day will start with a virtual opening ceremony. Then everyone will go out and exercise for EHC and reconvene online in the afternoon for an after party.

We encourage you to post photos of yourself exercising on the day with the hashtag #C4S2021 on social media.

You have two registration options this year. General registration is $45 and comes with a goody bag. VIP registration is $85, and you will get an enhanced goody bag.

Exercising with a physically distanced group? You can create a team. Want to supercharge your fundraising? Why not create a fundraising team?

You can also buy a Cycle for Sight registration as a giftfor someone else or donate to Cycle for Sight.

We can’t wait to hear how you’re going to participate.

RSVP for Cycle For Sight by April 15

Local running Club’s “White Dress Run” supports Enchanted Hills Camp

Local running Club’s “White Dress Run” supports Enchanted Hills Camp

On February 24, East Bay Hash House Harriers, a Bay Area Running Club, held an Enchanted Hills Camp Fundraiser in honor of Christie Ivanstrom, a member who is blind. The run was a farewell, as Christie and her husband Tim are moving out of the Bay Area. To mark the occasion, they held a “White Dress Run” that raised $1,290 for the remarkable programs of EHC. In accordance with local ordinance the event was held socially distanced, with staggered start times and masked, of course.

Would you like to hold a fundraiser to support the LightHouse or Enchanted Hills Camp? To start planning with us complete the “Host a LightHouse Fundraising Event” form to start the planning.

If you have questions about fundraising for LightHouse, please contact Jennifer Sachs, Director of Development at jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7333.