In the United States, National Public Radio (NPR) recently featured the work of Camp Hope, a Seventh-day Adventist camp in British Columbia, Canada. The camp came into the limelight in 2021 as the region experienced a series of natural disasters, including forest fires and extensive floods.
The NPR report was part of its Morning Edition program on December 8, 2021. Hosted by Steve Inskeep and with reporter Emma Jacobs on the ground, the six-minute report shared what happened and what the Adventist-run camp has done and keeps doing to support those who fled from fire and flooding.
A Summer Tinderbox
Inskeep explained that the province of British Columbia experienced record high temperatures during the summer, which are blamed for hundreds of deaths. Then, in November, a month’s worth of rain fell in the area in just two days.
Among others, Jacobs interviewed Dave and Doreen Crozier, who barely managed to escape. The survivors said they are still in shock because of the suddenness and speed of the fire.
“I see [my wife] rushing out with a cat and a basket, and it was too late to get her other possessions. The fire [had] engulfed the house by then,” Dave Crozier said.
Jacobs shared about the couple’s journey from then on. “The Croziers stayed with each of their children for a few weeks before they learned Camp Hope, which is run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, had canceled its summer reservations to house residents of Lytton. They and their cat are still here months later,” Jacobs said.
“Thank God we’re here,” Doreen told NPR. Dave added, “This has been our great rescue in the dark.”
Jacobs reported that the displaced recently found themselves helping other victims of a natural disaster. In November, torrential downpours caused landslides on the highway that runs by the camp, which trapped dozens of vehicles late on a Sunday night. She said that the Croziers and a member of the camp’s staff went down in the morning to knock on car windows and invite the passengers in to the camp to eat and get warm.
Dave Crozier remembered, “You could see the stress in the people’s faces that had slept with their children out there on the street.… That was pretty scary to see them in that condition.”
Jacobs specifically mentioned the plight of Samantha Brownlee, a woman who spent a cold night in the car with her kids, aged seven and nearly two.
“This wonderful human named Karen just spots me in the middle of this dining room, and I’m grabbing Cheerios for the boys,” Brownlee said. “And she says, ‘Do you need diapers?’ And I think my eyes must have grown like three sizes.”
Camp Hope staff member Evy Conner reported that after that dreadful night in November, the facilities welcomed 271 stranded travelers, since it took several days for crews to clear the highway.
“We set up beds in the auditorium,” Conner said. “We had a ton of mattresses that we brought in from our cabins…. And then they found every nook and cranny. I’m still finding mattresses in places I would never know that they would be.”
Without road access, Jacobs reported, food eventually had to be flown in by helicopter for all the unexpected visitors. The family of Brownlee was able to hire a helicopter to fly them out after a few days. “I’ve talked multiple times now with the director of Camp Hope,” Brownledd said, “to just try to ask, what are ways we can show support? What are your plans for Christmas?”
Camp Hope director Bill Gerber said that many evacuees have no departure date. And they just expect the situation to get worse in the future.
“These superhot, superdry summers in [British Columbia] is just, in essence, a tinderbox. We have so much forested land,” Gerber explained. “Up until now, we always thought it was a blessing to have our rivers and our streams and our lakes and our forests and our lumber supply in the beauty, in the natural rugged beauty and all the mountains. But all of a sudden, I don't know,” he said.
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