God is good, all the time.
Update on Fire at Wilderness Ridge
The Hidden Pines Fire is now 85% contained and gentle rain has been falling on the properties overnight. We hope the rain remains gentle over the next few days and does not create problems with erosion or flooding. We have power restored at the Lake Pavilion on the 855 Park Road 1C property, and at the Welcome Center, Shower House, and Pines cabins on the 1320 Park Road 1C property. Both areas will require some repair work before water will be restored to those buildings.
Our first priority is safety and we are once again partnered with Texas Baptist Men - Bluebonnet Chainsaw Ministry to assist us with clean-up. This highly trained team will take care of the trees which have been damaged by the fire and threaten the areas of the camp where we need work. Additionally, they will be removing the steel roofs laying on the buildings so that staff, family and volunteers can sift through the remains looking for items that can be recovered and restored. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative has done an outstanding job of quickly restoring electricity to the meters on both sites. Dean Heier, associated with the Hill Country Bible Church Community Impact Ministry, came in Thursday evening to make the changes needed in our main breaker boxes in order to safely restore power to the Lake Pavilion. The iCare ministry from Foundation Christian Ministries in Bastrop will come in to work on removing damaged structures and restoring water service to areas which are still available for use.
Once we have assured that the extreme dangers are addressed, we will begin coordinating with the overwhelming number of organizations and individuals who have offered to help us in the clean-up effort. Please watch our website and Facebookpage for up-to-date information on dates and contact information. The general clean-up should begin as early as Halloween weekend.
Four of our staff members and their families have lost their housing and most of their belongings in the fire. All are safe in temporary housing, mostly with family members. The loss and disruption in their lives is significant and the impact of this abrupt change will remain with them for a long time. Many organizations are responding to the disaster and providing resource to these staff members and others in the community. The staff and their families have also received an outpouring of love and gifts from family, friends, churches and strangers. Please continue to pray for them and consider assisting the camp with their immediate financial needs and in finding housing for them that allows us to continue operating the business of the camp. Donations can be made through our Giving page to the Friends fund, which is allocated based on needs by the Board of Directors, or you can donate to the individual families. If you want to coordinate your giving to specific needs, contact Ron Hunt at 512.554.5074 or me at 512.672.9999
This is a long-term process and your continued support is greatly needed and appreciated. It is an investment that will have lifetime impact on the many young men and families who are learning leadership skills through wilderness camping.
Board of Directors Plan Next Steps
The Board of Director will meet on Oct. 24th at Calvary Baptist Church in Bastrop to begin planning the future of Camp Wilderness Ridge. They are committed to being wise stewards of the legacy of the camp and the support provided by our partners and stakeholders. Please pray for this group of outstanding leaders as they tackle the difficult task of deciding an appropriate response to the impact of the fire.
Pictures of the Fire Damage
Pictures of the fire damage are available in a photo album on Flickr. While the impact of the fire is jarring, the areas protected and the path to recovery provide hope and solace. We are optimistic that good will come from this and the ministry of training boys and young men to grow into Christian leaders will continue.
We are working with our guests who have contracts for Fall Retreats to ensure their activities continue and are delivered with outstanding, life-changing results. Through the gracious cooperation and assistance of Camp Tejas and Cooper Farm, we are able to provide the facilities and activities needed for these retreats. The weekend, Tejas will host and support the first of our post-fire fall retreats with our staff providing program assistance. Pray for the success of the retreats and for blessings on the two camps who have opened their hearts and facilities to assist us in this difficult time.
We are awaiting the deliberation and decision of the camp's Board of Directors to announce plans for Spring retreats and Summer Camp. I'm optimistic we will continue to operate our ministry of low-cost Christian camping and leadership training in Central Texas.
Immediate Restoration Needs
Immediate needs for restoration work are significant. We are working to develop a complete list of items needed to work on restoring usable areas of the camp. We lost our Kubota tractor and John Deere Gator to the fire. If you have suitable items which could be used by the camp, please contact Ron Hunt or me. Additionally, we lost most of our tools in the maintenance barn. We will generate a list of items needed for the near-term, but please consider providing Home Depot or Lowes gift cards so we can purchase tax-free the tools and supplies needed to restore the RV park for volunteers and complete the buildout of the kitchen at the pavilion.