Local youth evacuated from Colorado camp
Twenty-six youth and six adult chaperones from Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg have been evacuated from Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp in Colorado after a fire came close to the property.
The group, along with about 100 others, was evacuated to the nearby town of Westcliffe as the Hayden Pass Fire became a threat to the camp.
Currently, the fire is about a mile and a half away from the camp and has zero containment.
The group from Holy Ghost has been positive throughout the entire experience, said Rev. Clint Pluenneke, youth and family pastor at Holy Ghost.
“The transition could not have gone more smoothly,” Pluenneke said. “It was very, very calm.”
“The attitude of the campers and the staff has been awesome,” said Ben Jarvis, director of on-site and Bridging Borders ministries. “Kids are enjoying their week at camp and everyone is viewing it as an adventure which is really cool.”
The youth are sleeping on cots and have a majority of their clothing and toiletries.
Although in a different location, activities have been carrying on as usual.
“We were able to bring some of our resources with us, including the gaga ball pit, woodcarving supplies and some arts and crafts,” Jarvis said.
The camp has come up with new activities such as synchronized sock skating. Kids are given a scenario like mapping the journey from the camp to Westcliffe, the life of a camp dog or various Bible stories and have to act them out with music all while sliding around on their socks.
The camp is all too familiar with this experience as five years ago in 2011 the camp was evacuated when a fire was a quarter mile away.
Pluenneke and other youth from Fredericksburg where there then, too.
“It’s almost like Déjà vu for us,” Pluenneke said. “It’s what can happen with life in the mountains. You have to be flexible.”
Anissa Kneese, a 2014 graduate of Fredericksburg High School, is a counselor this summer and is thankful her community is there during this time.
“We definitely weren’t expecting this but I am so happy everyone his here,” said Kneese. “It would have been a much different experience if they weren’t here with me. Everyone has been very supportive.
“The media has made it seem like it’s been a really tough time for us, but honestly, we are really doing okay,” Kneese said.
The group is expected to return to Fredericksburg on Saturday, as the group originally planned.
“The kids will not forget this experience,” Pluenneke said. “It’s something special that they will always be able to talk about.”