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RebuildEHC

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.

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

Essay: A blind camper on why Enchanted Hills Camp is important

Essay: A blind camper on why Enchanted Hills Camp is important

After the fires at Enchanted Hills Camp, we were flooded with kind words and fond memories from campers throughout our 68 years of operation. In honor of the many memories we all share from Enchanted Hills Camp, as we get ready to rise from the ashes, we’ll be publishing regular stories from campers and members of the EHC Community on our blog. Here’s the first in a series of three, by longtime camper Maycie Vorreiter.

Summer’s Finest Moments: An EHC Reflection

By Maycie Vorreiter

“I want to wake up at Enchanted Hills, where the songbird sings “hello”. And the sun comes a creepin, into where I’m sleepin’, and the redwoods whisper low. I wanna wander through the wild woods, where the rippling waters flow. And come trickling back to Enchanted Hills, to the camp that we love so!”

– Enchanted Hills Camp theme song

My introduction into the world of Enchanted Hills camp, (EHC) began at the age of six, when I attended my first family camp. It was my first time meeting other blind people, kids and adults alike, though at that time, I only remember the kids. The first activity I did was boating. My Dad, brothers and I all got into a paddle boat and paddled around the pristine lake. I didn’t know then how big a part of my life EHC would become. Every year I was pulled back, both by my excitement to see everyone I’d met the year before, to meet new people and to do so many of the activities I enjoyed; arts and crafts, boating, horseback riding, swimming, and later, OJ Radio.

EHC is where many bonds have been created, and today, those bonds are stronger than ever. I met my best friend of twelve years at my second family camp. At first she didn’t want to talk to me because she thought that I was a boy, but that’s another story for another time. We used to love running up and down the ramps of the Lakeside cabins, mostly because of the clattering sound our canes made as they rattled over the planks.

In 2007 at the age of nine, I attended my first youth camp, along with my best friend, who was scared initially. Somehow, I managed to talk her into going, and I will never forget that first no parent camp experience because it was my first time being away from home by myself. Two memories from that week stand out to me. The first happened one night when all the counselors in our cabin (we were in the Shoshone cabin) left for what was probably a staff meeting. I was attempting to fall asleep, but I couldn’t. It was too quiet, and something about how silent it was just made me start laughing. I tried to stop because I knew someone would tell us that we needed to be quiet, but I couldn’t. Soon, the rest of my cabin mates were laughing, and I’d say we laughed for a good five minutes before a counselor came in and said, “You’d better stop, or I’m gonna put you all in separate cabins.” Instant silence.

The second memory from my first youth one session took place near the end of that week. We were all gathered near where the campfires were held, and we were told we would be making a time capsule. A Perkins brailler was passed around, and we were given sheets of paper. What I wrote that night I cannot recall, but I know that whatever it was was a page long. Many years from now, I hope to read that again.

Every year new memories were made, every year new counselors came and went. Every year new activities were added, such as woodworking, new people were met and EHC found it’s way into my heart, where it always will be. What makes EHC special are the campfires, hay rides, (typically at the end of family camp) talent shows (where I performed many times) campers, staff, activities. What makes EHC the place to be is the laughter, the music, hanging out with new friends and old friends, and the wishes that everyone makes at the end of a youth session closing campfire.

I’d like to conclude with a memory that, as of this writing, happened just a few months ago. Just two months before the fire. In August, I attended Music Academy for the first time, and this was one of the best sessions I’ve attended. On the evening of the EHC performance, I stood on the stage at the Redwood Grove theater, and as I was getting ready to sing, I was asked to talk a little about Music Academy. As I talked, I could feel my nervousness for the performance I knew was about to happen, but I also felt contented. Everything at that moment was so peaceful around me, and the sense of togetherness was in the air. It’s a moment I will carry with me forever. It’s a moment I will keep as EHC begins rebuilding. It’s a moment I look forward to experiencing again when I return.

Maycie performs 'Doctor My Eyes' at Music Academy 2017 on the Redwood Grove Theater stage.
Maycie performs ‘Doctor My Eyes’ at Music Academy 2017 on the Redwood Grove Theater stage.

Maycie Vorreiter is a student at Santa Rosa Junior College and EHC camper from Northern California. You can also read about Maycie’s braille yearbook.

Want to share your story? Head to the Enchanted Hills’ Facebook page and comment or post a picture of your favorite EHC memory.

A Salute to the Firefighters of LA Fire Department Engine 98

A Salute to the Firefighters of LA Fire Department Engine 98

In early October, one of the most damaging wildfires in California’s history reduced part of our beloved Enchanted Hills Camp to ash and smoke. It destroyed most of Lower Camp, including staff housing, cabins that house hundreds of campers each summer and the beloved Redwood Grove Theater stage, as well as parts of Upper Camp.

You can help us today with a tax-deductible contribution to rebuild Enchanted Hills.

Yet a good part of camp did survive, thanks to the courage of Los Angeles Fire Engine #98. These firefighters risked their lives to save as much of camp as they could and are now, as we write this, in harm’s way as they fight the treacherous fires in Southern California.

A note on the back of the partially charred Redwood Grove sign, which was hand carved by blind woodworker George Wurtzel, reads: “LAFD Engine 98. We saved this, wish we could have saved more.”
A note on the back of the partially charred Redwood Grove sign, which was hand carved by blind woodworker George Wurtzel, reads: “LAFD Engine 98. We saved this, wish we could have saved more.”

We can never thank these brave firefighters enough for the perilous work they did to save Enchanted Hills for blind campers. But in mid-November, we tried. Camp staffer Chris Lawyer and his partner, Jessica Marenoff visited LAFD #98 to give thanks in person on behalf of the LightHouse. The couple’s feelings for Enchanted Hills Camp run particularly deep: not only did they meet at the camp, but, tragically, they lost their onsite home and all their possessions in the fire.

“It was very important for us to thank them, not only on behalf of the LightHouse and Enchanted Hills, but for me and Jess personally, for saving the camp we love so much, that has so much meaning to our story,” says Chris, who has since relocated to Fairfield with fellow EHC site staff member Matt Beard and their partners.

They arrived at the Los Angeles fire station with hearts full of gratitude for what was saved and had an eminently satisfying conversation with Alexander Hermann, one of the first responders at EHC. Hermann told Chris and Jess about the fire crew’s efforts to save EHC, describing the first thing the crew saw when they arrived: the Staff House (Chris and Jess’ home) had already burned down and was still smoking.

He recounted how the crew worked their way through the camp, extinguishing as many flames as possible, despite obstacles like large trees blocking the road that had to be cut up and removed. They got to the Redwood Grove Theater just as fire was destroying the stage, but were able to save the hand-carved benches made by blind woodworker George Wurtzel. Alexander felt compelled to leave a touching note at the entrance to the theater: “We saved this, wish we could have saved more.” Alex wrote the note himself and went to post it on the sign, to which his fire chief laughed and said, “You can’t leave that with the bad handwriting.”

As Chris told him of camp’s history and founder Rose Resnick and described all the site staff do at Enchanted Hills, Alex and his team were amazed by everything that camp offers and symbolizes for the blind community. They expressed to us their sadness for what we lost: “We really wish we could have done more,” he said, echoing his sentiments from the handwritten note.

Chris Lawyer and Jess Marenoff, wearing their maroon EHC t-shirts, pose with firefighter Alexander Hermann in front of the grill of a giant red firetruck.
Chris Lawyer and Jess Marenoff, wearing their maroon EHC t-shirts, pose with firefighter Alexander Hermann in front of the grill of a giant red firetruck. Chris and Jess gave Hermann EHC t-shirts for the heroic crew.

We’re so thankful for the work of these valiant firefighters, for everything they fought to save and everything they succeeded in protecting. Now it’s our turn to do the work. So many of you have expressed your sorrow for the destruction at camp. So many have asked what you can do.

Start right now by making a tax-deductible gift to support our rebuilding efforts. The year is almost over, so don’t wait to donate!

Now, more than ever, Enchanted Hills needs your support and donations. To give by mobile device, text REBUILDEHC to 501-55.

p.s. Every dollar donated is tax-deductible and will go to ensuring that the coming years will bring new growth and opportunity for blind campers.  Donate or contact Jennifer Sachs at 415-694-7333 or jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org and tell her you want to help “Rebuild EHC.”

Join the #GivingTuesday Movement on November 28 to Rebuild EHC

Join the #GivingTuesday Movement on November 28 to Rebuild EHC

Join the #GivingTuesday movement on November 28 and donate to rebuild Enchanted Hills. Help us reach our $10,000 goal to rebuild one of the 10 cabins lost.

The holiday season is about giving, and this year we’re participating in Giving Tuesday, a one-day annual movement to spread the spirit to charitable organizations like LightHouse.

A view through the gutted staff house at Napa County's Enchanted Hills Camp.
A view through the gutted staff house at Napa County’s Enchanted Hills Camp.

In 2017, more than ever, we need your year-end charitable contributions. As many of you know, LightHouse suffered the greatest loss of our history this past year to our beloved Enchanted Hills Camp in the wake of the California wildfires. This year, we turn our Giving Tuesday efforts toward rebuilding EHC. Join the #RebuildEHC movement and make a tax-deductible donation to help us reach our goal of raising $10,000 on November 28, to contribute to the material cost of each of the 10 cabins we lost in the fire.

Over 40,000 organizations including small businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and major corporations in 98 countries have joined the #GivingTuesday movement over the last four years. Mark your calendars for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to help us reach our goal.

Donate to #RebuildEHC

You can also support our fundraising efforts by sharing our Rebuild EHC page on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #RebuildEHC. In your post, tell why YOU decided to support our efforts to Rebuild EHC better and stronger.

Thank you so much for your support.