Of Note


Oral Hull Introduces Adventure Retreat


An exhilarating vacation reminiscent of youth summer camps, but with more comfortable accommodations and healthier food, awaits participants in a retreat offered to blinded and low-vision veterans by the Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind September 3-9 at its forested 22-acre site.

The property, located along the Sandy River at the base of Mt. Hood in Sandy, Oregon, will provide the backdrop for a week of social, recreational, and rehabilitation programs and activities that will facilitate the leaving of one’s comfort zone. The program seeks to affirm that blindness and low vision does not have to mean dependency and isolation.

Complete with a military déjà vu theme, the week will include activities such as water rafting and a man-overboard drill on the Deschutes River, a search and rescue mission that will take the group to Portland and back using iPhone apps, and reconnoitering work in the Mt. Hood National Forest on one of its many hiking trails. For an additional adrenalin rush, participants may tandem parachute jump with a qualified jumpmaster.

Cost of the six-night retreat, which includes twin bed, double occupancy rooms, and all meals and activities, is $500. Limited financial assistance is available for qualifying participants. Oral Hull provides ground transportation to bus, train, and airline terminals.

Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1962 “to provide a special place for persons with blindness or low vision and their friends to get away for a day, weekend, or week for an exceptional experience.”

For additional information about the program for veterans or any others, visit www.oralhull.org or call 503-668-6195.

Training Program Introduces More Condensed Format


America’s VetDogs began this past March to offer its accredited guide dog training in a 12-day program. The new curriculum offers a 2:1 student/instructor ratio and focuses on incorporating a blend of customized training formats to meet the specific lifestyles and needs of students while maximizing the training time in class for students and their dogs as they prepare for real-world situations.

“We are implementing this new approach in order to meet the needs of our blind and visually impaired applicants while also being respectful of our students’ time to commit to training with a guide dog,” said Wells B. Jones, CEO of America’s VetDogs. “This is an exciting change for the program. Our students will graduate with their dog in a shorter amount of time while gaining the real-world training targeted specifically to their lifestyles.”

The hallmark of the VetDogs program is its meticulous matching program to ensure that each applicant is teamed with the guide dog that best suits that person’s personality, lifestyle, and physical needs. This refined training program now offers greater individualized training in concentrated sessions. While the student spends fewer days on campus, the amount of practical training actually increases. This represents a change from the previous four-week training.

In addition, because of the lower student-to-trainer ratio, students and instructors are able to cover their specific needs pertaining to their home environments by focusing on various training walks (urban, country, and night walks); mass transit situations, including train platforms, subway, and bus travel; traffic area training; and other types of conditions.

Students in class continue to participate in lectures on grooming and care for their dog, obedience practice, accessibility awareness and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and guide dog etiquette for non-guide dog users.

VetDogs still offers home training if it is determined that a student need is best met by this type of intensive training. The decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

For questions about the guide dog training program, visit www.VetDogs.org or contact America’s VetDogs Consumer Services Office at 866-282-8047.

Virginia Recreational Facility Open to Blinded Veterans


BVA members and friends interested in a restful getaway may wish to consider the Burkeville Lodge in Southern Virginia.

The lodge, a nonprofit organization associated with the Virginia Association of Workers for the Blind, has a swimming pool, pond for fishing and boating, a large gazebo that accommodates socializing, walking trails equipped with handrails, wireless Internet, books on tape, and games.

Semi-private and private rooms, with meals, are available beginning at $40 per night. The facility also rents to clubs, family reunions, and social gatherings.

For additional information, contact Susan at 434-767-4080 or by email at sga.harbison@gmail.com.