Tag Archive

Enchanted Hills Retreat

LightHouse Featured in the New York Times

Image of blindfolded person with light shining on its face. Image by Brian Stauffer.LightHouse student Eleanor Lew writes in the New York Times about her experience with our Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Program for people who are new to low vision or blindness. It shows the impact the program has on our students’ lives.

Read Eleanor’s article, “Travelers in the Dark”

Would you or someone you know benefit from Changing Vision Changing Life?
Our week-long sessions are now being offered at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa and also soon, at our new headquarters (with dormitories) in San Francisco.

During the Immersion, up to 14 students come together in an intensive and immersive week of learning skills, sharing stories, exchanging solutions and supporting each other. Because learning takes time, commitment and development of new skills and sensitivities, this week provides our students the opportunity to become acquainted with essential skills that support their journey to independence and confident living. Students focus on a variety of training including orientation and mobility, tech training, cooking and daily living skills.

We have several Changing Vision Changing Life sessions coming up the next few months:
April 4th through 8th
June 12th through 17th
July 11th through  July 15th (for Spanish speakers)
For more information, contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org.

Are You a Vision Instructor or Other Blindness Professional? Come to Provider’s Weekend at Enchanted Hills This May

Free to first timers!

For over 20 years the LightHouse has hosted Provider’s Weekend, our signature event where teachers, managers, program staff and students entering the blindness field can meet and network throughout a long weekend.

Be sure to reserve May 20 to 22 now for an enlarged and far-ranging Provider’s Weekend at Enchanted Hills Retreat in Napa.

When: May 20–22, 2016
Where: Enchanted Hills Retreat
Cost: $100.00 (free for first-time participants)

May is the perfect month to swim in our heated pool, meet others in the warm evening around the campfire, and wrestle with bigger questions that take a bit more time than available around the office water cooler. You’ll meet service providers working in the field of blindness from all over northern California, in workshops and presentations. You’ll exchange practical ideas and build a network you might not otherwise have. You might even find your next job.

Stay in a lakeside cabin, the lodge or one of our fully accessible cabins next to the dining hall. The cost for the weekend, including all meals, is $100.00. In addition to discussing philosophies, trends and issues we face in providing services for people with visual impairments, you can enjoy boating on Lake Lakoya, trails for hiking and savory meals provided by a wonderful kitchen staff. You’ll learn from your peers, relax in a natural setting with many educational and recreational opportunities. And it’s not unheard of to find a drop or two of Napa wine from the neighborhood, too.

Special Incentive for First Time Attendees!
As a special incentive for first-time attendees of Provider’s Weekend – have the weekend on us. The free retreat is the least we can do to honor those who are helping shape the blindness field across northern California.

So mark your calendars now and reserve space before it’s gone. We expect with the flood of new faces we’ll fill all available cabins well before May.

For information and reservations contact Tony Fletcher at 415-694-7319 or tfletcher@lighthouse-sf.org.

Outdoor Educators Learn the Ropes at Enchanted Hills Retreat

Members of the Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI) participate in a low-ropes challenge course at EHC. All under training shades, they support three members who are balancing on a single rope raised a few inches off the ground.In November members of the Outdoor Educators Institute (OEI) visited Enchanted Hills for a two-day training to learn more about how to adapt outdoor recreation activities to include the blind community. We provided instruction on human guide technique, myths and facts about blindness and philosophy of inclusion. Participants had a chance to meet with LightHouse Board and staff on issues of accessibility and discuss best ways to instruct blind students.

“We learned so much this weekend. Thank you to Enchanted Hills Camp and LightHouse for the Blind – San Francisco Bay Area for showing us how you create access to the ‪#‎outdoorsforALL”
-from the OEI Facebook page

Enchanted Hills Camp Director Tony Fletcher said, “I was extremely impressed by the enthusiasm and competence demonstrated by the students. The opportunity for Enchanted Hills Camp to partner with OEI, gave both our organizations the chance to build a partnership that will truly benefit the blind community in inclusive outdoor education.”

An OEI student explores a tree carving tactilely.

The Outdoor Educators Institute provides a 3-month long professional and workforce development program training the next generation of outdoor leaders. Their leadership training includes wilderness backpacking, sea kayaking, ropes course facilitation, environmental education, group management, professional skills, conservation skills, and equity, diversity, and inclusion trainings.

Are you looking for a retreat setting for your company training or other group outing? Please call us at (415) 694-7310 or learn more at www.enchantedhillsretreat.com.

In the Dining Hall at Enchanted Hills, Camp Construction Manager George Wurtzel, complete with feathered hat, takes time out to chat with members of OEI.

Arm Yourself with the Tools and Attitudes to be Successful with Changing Vision

Calvin James


Many people are inspired by our Changing Vision Changing Life Session and occasionally a participant is moved to write or even compose some poetry. Here’s a recent example:

Changing Vision Changing Life
Relax, open minds, abandon fears, and trust.
Smell, hear, touch, sense, feel.
Enjoy encouraging, supportive smiles and words.
Watch skills grow as tools empower and calm.
Strategy insures safety and melts frustration.
Senses flood with rich detail, more accurate
Also more vivid than mere sight.

Through his writing, above, Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion participant Calvin James shared his thoughts and experiences of the Fall 2015 Training in Napa.

Our week-long session can truly transform the way you set your goals for effectiveness and bring you closer to knowing what you’ll need to learn so you can live the life you want. During the Immersion, you and up to 13 other students will come together in an intensive and immersive week of learning or re-learning skills, sharing your stories, exchanging solutions, supporting each other. Because learning how to do something different takes time, commitment and development of new skills and sensitivities, this week provides you the opportunity to become acquainted with a range of essential skills that support your journey to independent and confident living. The consequent desire for self-advancement and hunger to learn that participants develop in our retreats will help them dedicate the necessary time and concentration in later learning.

Our next Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Session is in January 2016.
Where: Enchanted Hills Retreat
When: Sunday, January 31 through Friday, February 5
Full scholarships are available for persons who are not consumers of the Department of Rehabilitation and are 55 or older, living in the counties of Alameda, San Francisco and Marin.

Here’s what Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion is all about:

  • Changing Vision Changing Life is a week committed to YOU. It is the opportunity to learn how to take charge of living your life instead of letting your change of vision hold you and your life hostage.
  • Immersive training exposes you to a myriad of independent living skills and strategies; you will also receive a concentrated dose of orientation and mobility and access technology exposure.
  • You’ll work with our trainers in the full group, in small groups and one-to-one (as much as possible). We encourage students to learn using training shades, giving the experience of focusing on skill development through non-visual learning.
  • Changing Vision Changing Life is a personal commitment to having the desire and taking the time to make a change. The week is full of active participation starting as early as 7:30 in the morning with our optional Yoga class and ending at around 9:00 p.m. The days are full, incorporating time for learning, personal time for reflection and time to connect with fellow students. If you have never met another person who is blind or has low vision, he or she will be your roommate, your fellow student throughout the week, your teacher, your mentor and quite possibly your newest friend.
  • LightHouse staff are professionally trained and the majority of the staff is also blind or has low vision. They understand that each student’s goal in training is unique and that your journey is to be respected. All staff will help guide you toward advances in your blindness that make the most sense for you.
  • Part of the Changing Vision Changing Life framework is that personal acceptance, learning and embracing new skills and renewed skills take time and commitment – we expose you to the possibilities.

Group Photo of Students in the Fall 2015 CVCL Immersion session

If you’d like to attend please contact the following LightHouse staff:

San Francisco Bay Area and Alameda County, contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org.
Marin County contact Jeff Carlson at 415-258-8496 or jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org.
Humboldt or Del Norte Counties, contact Janet Pomerantz at 707-268-5646 or jpomerantz-sf.org.

Enchanted Hills Retreat – Weekends are Filling Up Fast

The dining hall at Enchanted Hills sits across from Lake LokoyaDid you know that Enchanted Hills, our historic camp for the blind and visually impaired located on Mt. Veeder in Napa, also accepts reservations for retreats, getaways and events of all sorts?

EHC is much quieter during the fall and winter months, which makes it an even more idyllic setting for escaping from the day-to-day of city living. It’s also a time when we spruce up the grounds and prepare for a new year. We’ve just demolished the old boat dock and started the project of building a new floating dock, designed to rise and fall with the water level as we work towards sustainable solutions for drought and storm months.

In other news, PG&E has just installed new power lines to wire the upper barn, meaning that George Wurtzel and his cohort of blind woodworking students will have all the energy they need to thrive during this month’s woodworking class. Last weekend, the Kiwanis Club had a BBQ to celebrate the one year anniversary of “K-Day,” their pledge to have a monthly volunteer day here at camp.

With all this, weekends are filling up fast — in fact, there are only a few weekends available for rental between January and May of 2016, and once summer hits Enchanted Hills is hopping from June through the end of September. That said, it’s always worth checking in to see if we have an opening or cancellation. Call us at (415) 694-7310 or learn more at www.enchantedhillsretreat.com.

Friends and Camp Lovers Show Their Love This Fall in All Kinds of Ways

Sign designating a horse trail at Enchanted HillsThis summer was an incredibly busy one at Enchanted Hills Camp and Retreat — in fact, there was hardly a day when a new group wasn’t coming or going, enjoying the natural beauty of our Napa enclave, or putting in real elbow grease to make improvements to our storied Mt. Veeder grounds. In addition to our recreation programs for youth and adult campers, we hosted Blind Babies and Families, Chemistry Camp, STEM Camp, Horse Camp, Music Academy, deaf-blind sessions, Immersion programs for adults with changing vision, sessions for adults with special needs, and so much more!

This fall, we turn our focus to beautifying the property and taking advantage of the warm weather while it lasts. In September, a volunteer group from Timberland got their hands dirty with a special volunteer retreat, and this month we’ll have the same from UPS, who are sending a group to come put in work of their own on EHC. The contributions from groups like AmeriCorps continue to yield great rewards, as Construction Manager George Wurtzel has just completed his brand new blind arts woodworking shop, announcing his first immersive class for November.

As you can imagine, Enchanted Hills is almost entirely booked for 2015 and will book up fast for next year. Don’t miss out. Support Enchanted Hills’ transformative programs for kids who are blind by reserving a space for you and anywhere from 30 to 130 guests by calling us at (415) 694-7310. Learn more at www.enchantedhillsretreat.com.

Volunteers Make Enchanted Hills the Ideal Retreat Destination

Volunteers Make Enchanted Hills the Ideal Retreat Destination

This September we’re extremely pleased to be hosting a group of volunteers from the legendary apparel company Timberland, who will come from around the country to lend their time and effort into making Enchanted Hills Camp an even more picturesque, comfortable place to be. They’ll be dousing fences and handrails with fresh coats of paint, building picnic tables, and more, as we prepare for a beautiful autumn full of not only events for the blind, but private events, weddings, and other corporate retreats.

This is only one of the many outside groups we’re hosting this summer and fall. Many come for team-building purposes, special events, or just to kick back and relax. We’re now booking for 2016, and with all of our regular summertime camp activities, space fills up fast. The secret is out: Enchanted Hills is one of the most peaceful, affordable, and accommodating retreat destinations Napa has to offer.

For more information about Enchanted Hills Retreat, or to reserve your space, call (415) 694-7310.

This Fall, Retreat to a Bigger, Better Enchanted Hills

Sunlight on the redwoods at Enchanted Hills RetreatThis summer the staff at Enchanted Hills Retreat and Camp is hard at work, filling out to the far reaches of the property with enhancements. In addition to the preexisting sports field, picnic areas and various craft and recreation buildings, there are three new miles of hiking trails that circumnavigate Enchanted Hills’ less explored regions. In upper camp, construction manager George Wurtzel is rehabbing the old dilapidated barn, and it will soon become a fully functional workshop for woodworking, leatherworking, and other hands-on art projects.

We’re also proud to see the Redwood Grove Theater take shape; it will be a beautiful and serene performing arts space which will soon become the crown jewel of lower camp. Complete with a stage, electricity, lighting and sound, the theater will be the perfect venue for any group show. With a semicircle of tiered, comfortable wooden benches built into the natural bowl in the redwoods, the theater will be the perfect venue for musical and dramatic performances, film screenings, and other types of presentations.

Enchanted Hills fills up fast for private bookings, but there are still a few opportunities to book retreats toward the end of summer and beginning of the fall! If you’re interested in booking an event for anywhere from a few to a few dozen guests, call (415) 694-7310 or visit www.enchantedhillsretreat.com.

Two English and one All-Spanish Changing Vision Changing Life Introduction to Blindness Retreat at Enchanted Hills

Students walk along wooded path at Enchanted Hills Retreat

August, September and November are great months for learning successful skills for life, work or play while surrounding yourself with the support and camaraderie of peers and staff who are blind or have low vision.

At the LightHouse Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion at Enchanted Hills Retreat, you’ll have a real workout on the skills that keep you living the life you want, whether it be improving your use of the technology that brings the print world to you or walking with confidence through beautiful Enchanted Hills Retreat. Throughout the week students are introduced to strategies and tools that can transfer from home to school to work, from sunup to sundown and from cooking to home repair. While it is an active week, time out is provided for students to share their personal experiences with each other, gaining insight, perspective and support for moving forward.

After the session students continue their journey in their own personal way, by continuing their training; improving their ability to continue at their jobs or becoming newly employed; volunteering or mentoring; connecting to other programs at the LightHouse or to those in their community; joining advocacy blindness organizations and a myriad of other outcomes. Most importantly, one the most resounding themes we hear from attendees of the Immersion session is, ‘Now I know am not alone, I have a community of support’.

Here are the upcoming Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion training weeks:

Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion for Spanish Speakers
Where: Enchanted Hills Retreat
When: August 24 through 28

This session is facilitated in Spanish for adults who are monolingual Spanish speakers. Any blind or low vision adult whose primary language is Spanish may be eligible. Transportation is provided from San Rafael, San Francisco and Ashby BART. There is no cost to attend if you are 55 or older and living in San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Humboldt or Del Norte counties.

For more information please contact Esmeralda Soto (Spanish & English), at 415-694-7316 or Kathy Abrahamson (English and Spanish), at 415-694-7336.

Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion Sessions in September and November
We have two session coming up, both held at Enchanted Hills Retreat:
September Session: September 13 through 18
November Session: November 15 through 20

If you’d like to attend either the September or November Immersion trainings at Enchanted Hills Retreat, please contact the following LightHouse staff:
San Francisco Bay Area, contact Debbie Bacon at 415-694-7357 or dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org.
Marin County contact Jeff Carlson at 415-258-8496 or jcarlson@lighthouse-sf.org.
Humboldt or Del Norte Counties, contact Janet Pomerantz at 707-268-5646 or jpomerantz-sf.org.

Enchanted Hills Retreat is Spruced Up for Summer

Paddle boating on Lake Lokoya at Enchanted HillsDuring the spring, AmeriCorps team Green 6 was hard at work making Enchanted Hills Camp even more beautiful and efficient than ever before. The volunteers blazed nearly three miles of horse paths, endured multiple bouts of poison oak, constructed walls, decks, and a beautiful white oak woodshop floor. Their contributions have been truly valuable and, now looking better than ever, Enchanted Hills is ready for the summer!

Construction manager George Wurtzel, who facilitates all the hands-on activities at the camp ranging from woodworking to sailing to rug making, has also seen to it that Enchanted Hills continues to thrive as the summer months heat up. Internet antennas have also been installed to provide “Wi-Fi in the woods” for our tech savvy visitors as well.

Enchanted Hills books up fast. The summer at Enchanted Hills is a magical time, busy with camp sessions for kids, teens, adults and families: the pool opens up, the horses come to stay, and every week the premises bustles with activity, whether that’s campers on their first stay learning valuable skills, young musicians studying hard at their craft, or the playful trot of those who’ve come to learn horseback riding. These are things most people would never think to do with the blind/deaf but what people do not understand is that they have other senses that are working just fine. We want them to never turn down doing something because of their physical differences.

The good news is that there are still a few opportunities to book retreats for up to 130 guests toward the end of summer and beginning of fall. For more information and availability, call (415) 694-7310 or visit www.enchantedhillsretreat.com.