July 31, 2018

Two Adventist Camps Evacuated Due to California Wildfires

Cindy Chamberlin, North American Division News

Central California Conference’s (CCC) Camp Wawona, located within Yosemite National Park, in California, United States, has been evacuated due to the nearby Ferguson Fire, which is encroaching on Yosemite Valley.

Last week, CCC administration determined the air quality was unhealthy for the well-being of children, staff, and horses and subsequently sent campers and staff home. Camp horses were taken to the nearby California State University, Fresno campus. Summer camp was suspended for the week and then canceled for the remainder of the summer.

camp wawona

Saying that safety was of utmost importance, CCC administration declared the decision even before Yosemite National Park’s mandatory closure to certain park areas, as a precaution to ensure staff and child safety. According to authorities, the Ferguson Fire had burned more than 43,000 acres and was still active.

“Parents entrust their precious children to our care during the annual summer camp experience, and their health and safety is our priority,” said CCC president Ramiro Cano. “The air quality index (AQI) had reached very unhealthy levels, and the fire containment was only 7 percent when the decision to suspend and cancel was made. A healthy AQI level is 49; today it reached 324 [hazardous], and it’s getting worse. Please keep our camp in your prayers [as] we praise our Lord that all were evacuated safely.”

Youth and Camp Ministries director Norma Villarreal said, “It is never easy to interrupt the summer camp ministry. Campers and staff plan their entire year around it; nevertheless, as we faced this unfortunate predicament, everyone was very supportive and has expressed their desire to return next year for another summer camp season. Please keep Camp Wawona in your prayers as we continue to deal with this situation.”

Additionally, the staff of Pine Springs Ranch, the Adventist camp within the Southeastern California Conference (SECC), has been evacuated due to fire and smoke threats. As of July 26, all campers and staff had left the camp.

Camp officials wrote the following on the Pine Springs Ranch Facebook page: “We never thought we would have to be in this same situation again; nevertheless, here we are five years later. Due to the smoke and the progression of the Cranston Fire we had to evacuate all of our campers and staff and end our ‘Teen Exclusive’ session. We had to make the difficult decision to cancel our ‘Combo Camp III’ session.”

Due to the current fire conditions, entrance to Pine Springs Ranch camp is prohibited. According to camp officials, “At this time Pine Springs Ranch is still under the threat of smoke and fire as well as under mandatory evacuation. We are monitoring the situation as closely as possible so that we can pass vital information on to our customers, staff, supporters, and friends. We are truly overwhelmed by all the texts, calls, e-mails, [and] postings full of love and support for Pine Springs Ranch. We are infinitely grateful to be part of such a loving community. Please continue to pray for us, our neighbors, and those fighting the fire.”

On July 28, SECC president Sandra Roberts commented on the camp’s Facebook page, “On this Sabbath day we continue to hear good news regarding Pine Springs Ranch. However, we are still in the middle of a very active fire scene, and the entire area is still under mandatory evacuation. We are reminded by authorities we aren’t out of the woods yet. . . . It appears that the fire scar from five years ago has indeed been a blessing this week. We continue to pray.”

As of Sunday, July 29, the Cranston Fire in southern California is considered 29 percent contained.

—This article includes reporting on Pine Springs Ranch gathered from Facebook by the North American Division Office of Communication.