The Bastrop Complex Fire which started on Sunday, September 4th has severely damaged the facilities and grounds of Camp Wilderness Ridge. The Board of Directors, along with Camp Director Ron Hunt, met on Saturday, September 9th to consider the future of the camp. While conditions in the area prevented us from touring the camp property, we reviewed videos taken of the facilities and major areas of the camp. All of the major structures except for the Pavilion dining area were destroyed by the fire. Additionally, there has been significant damage to the pines and other trees at the camp, but the videos show that there are many areas that appear to remain intact. We understand that limited access to the area will open on Monday, the 12th and our hope is to quickly accomplish a complete assessment of the damage and have an expert appraisal of the state of the forest.
As we prayerfully discussed the future of the ministry, we were mindful that the Camp Wilderness Ridge is much more than the facilities or the pines. While they are an important element of every gathering at the camp, the experiences, bonding, lessons, and focus on the Good News of Jesus Christ are the key elements of camp experience. Ron and the Board of Directors unanimously and enthusiastically re-affirmed our commitment to the mission and ministry of Camp Wilderness Ridge – Low Cost, Christ Centered Camping for Men and Boys. We are moving forward to restore our ability to operate the camp programs and to facilitate the programs of our guest churches. We will be contacting those scheduled for the fall retreat season to assist in relocating their gathering or to re-purpose it in conjunction with our re-development efforts. As we gain an assessment of the property, the board will gather again next Saturday to begin planning the steps needed to restore our operations.
Four of our staff members, Ron and Sandy Hunt, Cathy Martinez, and Alex Becerra lost their homes and their personal belongings in the fire. Each has been blessed by a significant out-pouring of aid and assistance from area churches and agencies and their immediate, short-term needs are being met. We are working on long-term plans to ensure a continuity in their lives and will update you with any specific needs as they become apparent. Please pray for their peace of mind as they come to terms with the loss of their personal belongings and make arrangements to re-establish their homes.
As we start out down the road of restoring the facilities and grounds used for the ministry of Wilderness Ridge, we want to bring alongside those who share our vision so that you can participate in the work and in the re-birth of the camp. We will communicate the steps we are taking and we seek the input of all who are interested in the camp to guide our future. Additionally we covet your continued financial support. With the interruption of our Fall programs, we need to sustain the financial support of our staff and our general operating fund in order to ensure continuity of the camp.
As the re-development plans are created, we will share them with you and ask for your specific support in those efforts – with work-days, specific material needs and a capital building campaign to supplement the funds received from our insurance. We hope that you will labor alongside us as we move forward in service to our Lord.
We close with an excerpt from a note to Ron from a wife and mother who heard about the fire damage:
“Your camp has made an impact to so many. My son recently went on his first father/son camp out this past February. His father grew up going to and working at your camp. Your camp has been a part in the lives of the men in our family for years. We are so sad to hear this news. Please let us know what we can do to help.”
Our goal is to continue to provide a wilderness camping experience in a Christ-centered context. We are excited about the future of Camp Wilderness Ridge.
In His Service,
Ron Hunt and the Board of Directors of Camp Wilderness Ridge
PS: Thank you for your many comments. They are a great encouragement to all of us to continue the work of the Camp.
PPS: One of the best ways to keep informed about what’s going to happen and how you can help is to subscribe to Camp Wilderness Ridge email updates.