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Enchanted Hill Camp

Award winning singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn closes EHC “Give Back” Concert Series, 8/14

Award winning singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn closes EHC “Give Back” Concert Series, 8/14

To celebrate Enchanted Hills Camp 70th anniversary, talented musicians, both blind and sighted, have been singing and playing their hearts out on Facebook Live in the “Give Back” concert series. This groundbreaking season of performances has been helping us raise money for Chimehenge, an interactive community musical instrument of epic proportions that will be played by future campers.

For our final concert, singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn will take center stage. Bruce made his first album 1970 and has released 33 albums to date. His music styles range from folk, to jazz, rock and worldbeat. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is a human rights and environmental activist. EHC Director Tony Fletcher sat down with Bruce for an exclusive Q & A session.

Q. When did you first hear about Enchanted Hills Camp?

A. I first heard about EHC when I met Bill Simpson [longtime EHC nurse], at Peet’s Coffee. There was a gang of mostly older people who would sit around in front and drink coffee. I joined that group and he came by and said hello to quite a few of the patrons. A couple of days later, I was sitting out in front of Peet’s again and Bill was there drinking his coffee and I invited him over to join me at my table. We realized we had a lot in common and he talked to me about how he spent his summers at EHC.

Q. Have you attended residential camp yourself?

A. Yes. The one that had the biggest impact for me was the Taylor Statten Camps in Canada. Those camps date back to the 1920s. I spent several summers there and learned an appreciation of nature.  There were four-week wilderness camps, including two weeks on a canoe trip in Ottawa. It was wonderful for my life skills development.

Q. Why do you think it’s valuable for people to attend camp?

A. One of the greatest things is being out from under the roofs of your parents. You’re obliged to discover things about yourself and you learn how to be a good citizen in an unusual setting. Everyone learns to pull their weight. It’s part of learning to be (part of) a team. At camp, there are activities that are different from what you would learn from school. You learn skills: to sail, ride a horse, improve your swimming.

Q. How did your passion for music develop? 

A. I was Interested in music from an early age. I started taking music lessons in fifth or sixth grade and played clarinet and trumpet for three years. I liked those but fell for early rock and roll at the age of 14.  I found an old guitar in the attic at my grandmother’s and banged away at it without much success, but my parents saw the value in it and signed me up for guitar lessons.

Q. What practical tips do you have for young musicians pursuing music as a career?

A. That’s hard to answer in a meaningful way. Things have changed so much. The business has changed so much but recording a YouTube video and getting your music watched on social media is one way to get started. I suggest that you learn everything you can from everybody you can. The more you know, the more you can use.

You can watch the concert Friday, August 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at: facebook.com/lighthousesf/live.

Learn more about Bruce at brucecockburn.com or on Facebook, Spotify or Apple Music.

Want to join Bruce in supporting EHC? Celebrate our 70th anniversary with your limited edition EHC hoodie or make a donation today.

Virtual room, real musicians: EHC to hold virtual Music Camp

Virtual room, real musicians: EHC to hold virtual Music Camp

Just like other Enchanted Hills Camp Summer 2020 sessions, we’re going virtual with Music Camp, led by longtime EHC Enrichment Area leader Masceo Williams. Masceo is a blind musician with over 20 years of live performance experience.

This is a four-part Zoom series for people who are blind or have low vision with some sort of formal music training. The four sessions will feature interactive discussions, music sharing, brainstorming, games, challenges and music fun all with EHC as inspiration and the backdrop.

You can choose from one of two timeslots. Contact Alyah Thomas at AThomas@lighthouse-sf.org for more info.

Timeslot 1: August 3, 6, 10 & 13 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Timeslot 2: August 3, 6, 10 & 13 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

What’s it like to be an Enchanted Hills Camp Counselor-In-Training? By Erik Huizar, age 16

What’s it like to be an Enchanted Hills Camp Counselor-In-Training? By Erik Huizar, age 16

I’ve been going to camp as a camper since 2015. Camp’s been such an amazing part of my life this past half-decade. I am extremely thankful for being able to go. I felt compelled to help out in more of an official capacity, so I became a CIT (Counsellor-In-Training). Also, the program offers very valuable skills in leadership and conflict resolution.

The hardest part of the program was coming up with solutions for scenarios they gave us. I had never faced some of those situations before. For instance, how do you handle disciplinary issues? What if a camper isn’t following the rules, even after you tell them to? Being in the virtual training with my fellow CITs and able to bounce ideas off of each other and talk different perspectives was something we all benefitted from.

We got to be counselors for the the [Virtual Youth & Family] campfire and it was very fun. We had to come up with activities and lead them. There were also videos about some of the [rebuilding efforts] going on at camp and the younger kids were asking questions. The kids were really participating. I think it went well.

I think people should go to EHC because it’s a ton of fun. If you are the only blind or low vision person in your school district, it’s a great way to interact with other blind people. I’m really excited for next year.

There is still time to come to the EHC Virtual Teen Sessions, through July 25. View the full teen camp schedule, then email AThomas@lighthouse-sf.org for Zoom info.

Check out the full schedule of EHC Virtual Teen Camp activities

Check out the full schedule of EHC Virtual Teen Camp activities

We’re just days away from the beginning of EHC’s Virtual Teen Camp. Join your EHC campmates for another magical (but totally unusual) summer of fun.  Virtual Teen Camp runs July 16 through 25 and is for people aged 14 to 20 who are blind or have low vision from all over. Drop in on Zoom for the sessions you like. The full schedule is below.

Thursday, July 16

Crip Camp movie and discussion, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Friday, July 17

EHC “Give Back” Virtual Concert featuring blind opera singer Cristina Jones, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Art with Julie Cabrera: Origami, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 18

EHC Opening Teen Virtual Campfire, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Monday, July 20

What’s the latest at EHC? From gardens to the cabins, presentation of the rebuilding efforts, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 21

So, You Think You Want a Guide Dog?, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Teen Talk, Being Real, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 22

Art with Julie: Making Clay, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Social Justice/Advocacy Discussion, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 23

Art with Julie: No Sew Stuffed Animal: 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Music Trivia Night – Hosted by Masceo Williams, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Friday, July 24

Art with Julie: Tie Dye Night, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

EHC “Give Back” Virtual Concert with blind classical pianist Fernando Apan, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

EHC Talent Show, hosted by Masceo, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, July 25

EHC Closing Teen Virtual Campfire, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

To join any or all these activities, RSVP to Alyah Thomas at AThomas@lighthouse-sf.org

Enjoy a summer of stories, trivia and songs with Enchanted Hills Camp Virtual Campfires

Enjoy a summer of stories, trivia and songs with Enchanted Hills Camp Virtual Campfires

By Caitlin O’Malior

With the devastation of the coronavirus and the state ordered shelter in place safety restrictions, LightHouse’s beloved Enchanted Hills Camp has had to temporarily close its cabin doors. But that doesn’t mean campers will be completely deprived of fun this summer—dust off those hiking boots, grab a cozy camp sweater, and gather around the virtual glow of a Zoom campfire! The terrific staff of Enchanted Hills will be hosting virtual campfires and all campers, young and old, big and small, are invited to join in on the fun starting Saturday, June 6, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

These fun-filled evenings will consist of all your favorite real campfire traditions, including camp’s traditional opening campfire ceremony rituals, special guest performances, and singalongs. Campfire attendees will also be informed of rebuild updates and all other camp related program offerings.

Enchanted Hills Camp Director Tony Fletcher, reflects on the upcoming virtual campfires.

“I feel strongly that our virtual campfires will keep our camp community connected to Enchanted Hills. Virtual campfires and other activities will prove our resilience and ability to live our motto, that flexibility is key. In offering this program, we are not dismissing the importance of physically being together, but this is a preliminary step for us to take to help us plan on being together again.”

Enchanted Hills is the heart and soul of LightHouse. The EHC staff is working hard to bring the fun and nostalgia of camp to its dedicated community members by adapting beloved camp traditions to an online platform as Tony states, “In reality, what we are doing this summer will have a lasting program impact for the future,

Due to the current global crisis, LightHouse is quickly finding ways to adapt and make virtual events such as EHC’s campfires part of the new normal as Tony explains.

“We may offer virtual programming simultaneously with in person programing in the future such as campfires, talent shows, concerts, discussion groups and educational presentations. We are rebuilding camp with a fiber optic system that will make all of this possible. We have former campers and staff that live all over the world and now they will be invited back to camp.”

If you are one of the hundreds whose heart resides at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa Valley, then warm up those pipes and sing along ‘til your heart’s content at EHC’s first virtual campfire for everyone June 6. And if you or your campfire neighbor is just a little off-key, there’s always the mute button. Just one of the many perks to the virtual world.

EHC Virtual Campfires run most Saturdays through August 15. There will be sessions for youth and their families, adult campers and teens. Contact Alyah Thomas at athomas@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7345 for more info or see the full virtual campfire schedule on our calendar.

EHC Rises Again: An Update from Our Biggest Teen Session Ever

EHC Rises Again: An Update from Our Biggest Teen Session Ever

Our official #RebuildEHC Volunteer Day is October 6, 2018. Join us on the first anniversary of the fires at EHC by signing up, pitching in and laying the groundwork for years to come. Contact aferrari@lighthouse-sf.org to sign up.

Sitting next to the lake and surveying the 311-acre grounds of Enchanted Hills Camp, you might never know that just last October, a fire tore through parts of camp and damaged more than 20 structures, big and small. It was a trying time, but despite the fires, this summer’s recovered camp has never been more vibrant.

We just wrapped up the largest teen camp session ever, and 64 teens spread out across lower and upper camp — learning karate in the Kiva, playing Monopoly in the dining hall, braiding friendship bracelets in the Hogan, woodworking in the Art Barn, riding horses along the nature trails and fishing on the lake.

But to look a little closer, you’d find that things aren’t quite the same as in previous summers. After eight months of hard work, we reopened Enchanted Hills for a full 2018 summer and offered almost every session that generations have come to love since the camp opened in 1950. And despite challenges, upgrades to EHC have it looking better than ever.

Tony Fletcher, Director of EHC, reflects on this summer season. “Watching the adult campers, family campers and youth campers enjoy themselves so much and adapt to the modifications we have had to make to run camp this summer, reinforced my belief that the show must go on,” he says. Tony, who started working at LightHouse in 1989, just celebrated his 29th year of working in the blindness community. “There’s no way I could let a summer go by without us operating.”

So, what are some of the modifications? After the loss of the 10 cabins in lower camp that housed 120 campers and counselors, we knew we would have to find a swift and safe solution if we wanted to hold summer camp. Enter the Sweetwater Bungalows.

With their durable wooden frames, and breathable waterproof white canvas walls, the eight bungalows provide a sturdy and airy structure for a variety of weather conditions. The bungalows are eco-friendly and off the grid; we installed solar panels, which enable the bungalows to light up at night. One of the biggest adjustments for our campers has been the lack of plugs in their sleeping quarters to charge their mobile devices. What the bungalows lack in electricity, however, they gain in proximity to the pool and Dining Hall compared to the original lower camp structures.

The lakeside cabins got spruced up, too. Although they did not burn, thick smoke permeated the walls, windows and furniture. The cabins have new paint, bedding, flooring and windows. For the first time, some of our youth slept in the lakeside cabins so that we could hold the same number of campers in 2018 as we hosted in 2017.

One of the other concerns after the fire was the loss of habitats for the animals who live at camp. A lot of work went into removing weeds and brush and we continue to remove many of the trees that were charred in the fire, so that all those who live at EHC, animal and human, will have a safe place to live. We’ve even added new animals to camp. Two donkeys, Citizen and Quill, now keep company with our goats Saint Nicholas and Saint Christopher, who were rescued during the fires by the Napa Community Animal Response Team.

Many of the changes are less structural and more to express the spirit of community and fun that has gone into the rebuild. On the maroon fence that surrounds the swimming pool in lower camp there are large yellow plastic dots that spell out “Swimmin Pool” in Braille lettering. There is no letter G, but there is a cluster of dots forming a happy face to welcome you to the pool. Signs are up all along the roads thanking counselors and Americorps members for their contributions, and brightly colored flower pots are speckled throughout the gardens, right from Donald Sirkin’s own estate.

LightHouse Social Media Specialist Christina Daniels looks at a new bright yellow braille sign on the pool fence that reads 'Swimmin' Pool.'
LightHouse Social Media Specialist Christina Daniels looks at a new bright yellow braille sign on the pool fence that reads ‘Swimmin’ Pool.’

Another new addition to is one you can hear as you drive into upper camp. Outside the dining hall sit two PowerShowdown tables. Part table tennis and part air hockey, the object of the game is to bat the ball off the side wall, along the table, under the center screen, and into the opponent’s goal. All players wear sleep shades, making this a great game for blind and sighted people to play together. Chris Keenan, owner of Keenan’s Cabinets of Distinction, makes the tables. He and his wife Kelly personally drove to EHC to deliver them and took a mini-vacation at the newly reopened camp.

Working to rebuild EHC has involved careful prioritization of which buildings to reconstruct first. Next up is the tractor barn, as it will hold tools to reconstruct future buildings. Constructing a pool shade structure and bath house with improved showers and bathrooms also tops the list.

The combined work of PG&E, FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA ensured EHC was safe after the fires. After that, volunteer organizations moved in to help with the cleanup, and continue to volunteer.

Individuals have also volunteered their time, including neighbors in the surrounding Mt. Veeder area, and we are organizing a special day where the EHC community can come together to help in the rebuilding efforts. A year after the fires, we will have a Community Volunteer Day on October 6. Allyson Ferrari, Volunteer Engagement Specialist, says, “I’m really excited for this day because it’s going to be an excellent opportunity to bring our community together and contribute in our efforts to rebuild, so that camp remains a cornerstone for many generations to come.” For more information about the EHC Community Volunteer Day, contact Allyson at aferrari@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7320.

Besides volunteering, you can donate to help #RebuildEHC in several ways. You can visit our donation page, use your mobile device to text REBUILDEHC to 501-55 or contact Jennifer Sachs at 415-694-7333 or jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org, and tell her you want to help “Rebuild EHC”. Without hundreds of people working thousands of hours, EHC 2018 summer season would not have been possible. We are grateful for the outpouring of support.

High School Students Collaborate to Create First-Known Braille Yearbook for their Blind Classmate

High School Students Collaborate to Create First-Known Braille Yearbook for their Blind Classmate

Photo: A smiling brunette Maycie reads one volume of the yearbook stacked on top of its three additional volumes. CREDIT John Burgess/The Press Democrat

A yearbook is a contradictory bit of nostalgia, a time capsule of days you either yearn to forget or wish you could relive. Regardless, it’s a trip down memory lane that everyone should have a chance to take, even those who get their ib diploma program online.

For better or worse, 18-year-old Maycie Vorreiter ordered a yearbook every year. And yet, for the Enchanted Hills Camp veteran, receiving the standard print yearbook was never very useful seeing as Maycie, now a graduate of ati las vegas trade school, has been blind since birth.

But early this year, the yearbook’s Editor-in-Chief Charlie Sparacio decided is was time Maycie received a yearbook she could really use. After winning $500 at a 2015 summer yearbook camp, the 18-year-old editor cooked up the idea of surprising Maycie with a 2015-16 yearbook printed entirely in braille. Advocates for the blind say this may be the first-ever braille yearbook.

What does a braille yearbook look like?

“I was so surprised. Honestly, it was the last thing I was expecting,” says Maycie. “What would it look like? I had this picture in my head of it being 10 to 15 volumes.”

The entire Windsor High School yearbook fit neatly into four volumes and, though it ended up costing more than $500 to source, could easily be printed by an agency like LightHouse at an affordable rate. There’s no traditional writing or design on the cover or inside the yearbook, just heavy white paper with a black spiral binding and a small label on the cover. Photographs were omitted from the braille version, but photo captions were included with lists of the students pictured in each photograph, allowing Maycie to have the same knowledge as her friends of who made it into the pages of high school history.

Maycie has enjoyed many summers meeting other blind students at Enchanted Hills Camp – in fact, she met her best friend there when she was 7 – but in a mainstream school setting, it’s important to be able to talk about the same stuff as the other students.

Though every school creating an annual braille yearbook is (quite literally) a tall order, Maycie thinks it’s a gesture that should be extended to each blind or visually impaired student in his or her senior year of high school.

“It was one of those really awesome moments that I would want to relive again, because it was done in braille and it has never been done before,” says Maycie, recalling the moment she received the yearbook in October. “My hope is that in the future other visually impaired students will get a braille yearbook for their senior year, too.”

After graduating from Windsor High, Maycie enrolled at the Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, CA. Though she says mobility can be particularly challenging in the East Bay’s busy streets, she says she’s starting to get familiar with the city and learn the tricks of navigating on her own.

Braille equals literacy

Maycie is part of the less than 10 percent of the blind population that use braille – a number that LightHouse has long worked to increase. She has been reading and writing braille since she was 3 years old and used Perkins braillers and Braille note taking devices throughout high school. Braille, she reminds us, is an invaluable skill for blind students.

“I’ve used braille pretty much forever,” says Maycie. “I don’t ever want to give up braille. Braille is my way of reading and writing, and I don’t ever want to lose it.”

The LightHouse MAD Lab specializes in making materials like Maycie’s yearbook accessible – for clients small and large. Any media that facilitates independent education, communication and navigation for the blind community is fair game in our book.

We offer braille translation, audio recording and large print production, including conversion to DAISY formats for audio, in addition to the many forms of embossed and 3D graphics that we create on contract for consumers around the world. Recent big hits include the Apple iOS9 braille manual (available at our store), which consists of five volumes measuring 6 ½ inches high when stacked and weighing close to 10 pounds. The MAD Lab is currently translating the iOS 10 braille manual, which, at 82,164 words, will be larger yet. It may seem like a lot of weight, but that’s how important literacy is to the blindness community.

The MAD Lab produces a wide range of tactile media, including raised line drawings, tactile graphics and tactile maps like this one for Alcatraz, and other GGRNA maps – for everything from Burning Man to BART.

For a rate sheet or an informal quote on a business project, contact MADLab@lighthouse-sf.org.