By EduardoMorales, Ph.D.
AGUILAS in San Francisco received three-year funding by the California Office of AIDS to enhance its HIV/AIDS services. This is the third year of this funding cycle and AGUILAS is having a three-day two-night overnight retreat at Enchanted Hills Summer Camp in Napa California for about 51 participants. Now that COVID-19 is considered a managed epidemic by the State of California, AGUILAS during its third year will conduct its 2023 annual retreat as originally planned. Retreat participants can register on the AGUILAS website (www.sfaguilas.org) where information is provided once you sign into the 2023 AGUILAS Spring Retreat site on its website face page. A sliding scale is offered when you register. The three days start on Friday, April 21 thru Sunday April 23, 2023, and will feature interactive workshops over the three-day period.
Enchanted Hills Summer Camp and Retreat site serves blind children, tens, adults, deaf-blind seniors as well as families of the blind. The camp is owned by the S. F. Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired whose administrative offices are in San Francisco. The remodeled facility has cabins with bedding, sheets, pillows, bathrooms, various meeting rooms, dining facilities, and an Olympic size swimming pool. The private camp site is located 10 miles west of Napa, California in the middle of redwoods, mountains, and rivers.
According to the Enchanted Hills website: “The experience of summer camp holds countless opportunities for enjoyment and learning in many a … person’s life. Whether it’s exploring a trail in the woods or creating a skit as a team to perform in front of an audience, camp provides a wealth of structured and unrestricted moments that contribute to … socialization, growth, and development. Founded in 1950 by Rose Resnick, Enchanted Hills was the first camp of its kind on the West Coast, to fill a void as there was not one recreational facility for blind children to explore, thrive and gain confidence.”
The theme of this year’s AGUILAS retreat is Reconnecting with Our Culture and Ourselves. The goal is to rediscover the adventure of self-growth and acceptance and incorporating groups to facilitate this process. The retreat program starts on Friday when participants to arrive by 3:30PM, get situated in assigned cabins, have dinner, and have a welcoming and centering session after dinner. The retreat is partnering with Queer Arts Featured also known as Queer A. F. whose offices are located on Castro Street at the store where Harvey Milk had his camera shop. It has a staff with extensive experience hosting a series of interactive healing arts workshops that includes movement, reiki, and sound healing. The workshops by Queer A. F. will be held in several sessions throughout Saturday. After the last workshop on Saturday there will be a pool party at about 4PM followed by dinner and a relaxing evening event. On Sunday morning artist Juan Manuel Carmona will conduct an interactive art workshop for all attendees after breakfast. He is one of the artists who created the mural entitled Queeroes on the SF LGBT building together with artist Simón Malvaez. All workshops will integrate health promotion, HIV/AIDS prevention, and PrEP and PEP information.
On Friday, AGUILAS will provide bus transportation for 34 persons since the road to the camp site is compromised due to the recent rainy weather. All retreat attendees need to have a negative Covid-19 test, arrive at the SF LGBT Center on Friday, April 21 at 1:00PM sharp to take the bus to the camp location. For those choosing or needing to drive, maps to Enchanted Hills at Napa are provided and you should arrive to the site by 3:30PM. It is expected that once you arrive you are expected to stay at the camp site throughout the three days. Items to bring, the retreat program, and other retreat information is provided to those who register for the 2023 AGUILAS Spring Retreat. Dinner is provided on Friday evening. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch are provided on Sunday. All participants are expected to leave Enchanted Hills after lunch on Sunday.
AGUILAS’ retreat is funded partially by the State of California Office of AIDS through its Empowerment Initiative. I encourage you to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to network that is limited to about 51 persons and will be in an environment exclusive to retreat attendees where you will be among other Latinx LGBTQ+ persons. I look forward to seeing you at the 2023 AGUILAS Spring Retreat this April.