Blindness is known as a low-incidence disability. As a result, blind and visually impaired people often feel--and are, in fact--isolated. This sense of being the "only one" frequently extends to family members, who can struggle to find local support services and a peer network.
Since 1950, Napa has offered a haven for blind people of all ages and their families to learn and have fun together.
Enchanted Hills Camp is nestled among the redwood trees of Mt. Veeder and is run by a San Francisco-based nonprofit called The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (LightHouse). LightHouse works with 3,000 visually impaired people in northern California and provides: employment training; independent living skills classes; and, health and wellness education.
LightHouse uses Enchanted Hills Camp to offer these programs in an intensive format, but in an outdoor environment. Some 400 campers attend during Enchanted Hills' season, which runs April through October. Each camp session is targeted to a specific visually impaired demographic. For example, there are camp sessions for: babies and their parents; children- and teen-only camps; and camps for blind seniors.
This summer, LightHouse will pilot a session specifically for blind children and families that live in Napa County. A typical week at Enchanted Hills includes workshops that empower parents and kids to advocate for their special education needs at school, and classes on using adaptive technologies. Peer support figures prominently; sharing concerns and strategies is a thread that runs throughout both structured and free time.
Also on Enchanted Hills participants' itineraries: typical camping activities, such as horseback riding, hiking and sports (like blind basketball), arts and crafts, and just sitting around the campfire. Recreation activities offer lessons in trust and using tools like braille and guide ropes.
LightHouse's annual budget for Enchanted Hills is $320,000, which covers 17 seasonal staff trained to work with blind people, plus food and lodging. All blind and visually-impaired kids attend at no cost.
LightHouse wants to round out its recreational offerings and purchase tandem bicycles, paddleboats and life jackets. Cost for this equipment is $4,500. Your support would enhance this fun and safe learning environment for blind community members and their families.
The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
214 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
Contact: Bryan Bashin, Executive Director