Camp Tamarack Update

December 14, 2020

From: Wade Hobson, Camp Tamarack Onsite Manager

As everyone knows, 2020 was a difficult and challenging year for organized camps everywhere, with camping seasons cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic. Camp Tamarack and our sister camp in Northern California, Camp Cazadero have faced and continue to face extraordinary challenges. 

The year was extra challenging for camps in the path of the devastating Creek Fire which burned in the Sierra National Forest from September 3 until the snows fell in late November. (Technically, it still isn’t contained and continues to smolder under the snow.) Camp Tamarack was not completely spared by the fire, but was saved by firefighters who wrapped the buildings in fire resistant foil and stayed to put out spot fires as they started in camp. The damage included some charring to a tent platform and equipment trailer, a gate post pushed over by a dozer, possible smoke damage to mattresses and extensive damage to the water line which runs about 4000’ from spring boxes in a meadow above the camp through the forest to our water storage tank. We will have to replace about 2000’ of plastic pipe before we can start setting up camp in the spring. 

A USFS forest restoration and fuel reduction program in the area around camp the past two summers thinned the forest in our area and kept the fire out of the crown and at lower intensity. In the future, the forest around Camp Tamarack will be more open and healthier. Other areas nearby were not so fortunate and were devastated. 

When the fire was active, I received many messages and offers to help restore the camp after the fire. At the time, we didn’t know the extent of damage or what help insurance might provide. I’m pleased to say that our insurance has responded in a very fair way and the Conference has received a substantial settlement check. However, we will need a lot of volunteer help in early June to get the water line repaired and the camp opened for the 2021 season. At this writing, the roll out of a vaccine raises optimism that we will be able to have a camping season (with appropriate protocols) at Camp Tamarack in 2021. 

That said, there is still is no end to needs at a church camp in the mountains! We will need a new water heater, tent repairs, wall repair in the shower, hazard tree removal, propane and all the usual expenses of establishing camp for the season. A donor has offered a $500 match to donations to the Conference for Camp Tamarack before December 31. The money can be used for camperships to support sending youth to camp or for camp maintenance needs. In addition, the Morris family is sponsoring an appeal through First Congregational Church Fresno (The Big Red Church) to honor their dad, Bruce L. Morris on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Bruce was an active layman and supporter of the camp and the mountains. Monies raised will be split between camperships and camp maintenance needs. 

If you would like to make a yearend (or any time) donation to the work of Camp Tamarack or Camp Cazadero, it can be made directly to the Conference on the Conference web page, or The Big Red Church. If you can set aside some time to come up in June and help get camp going for 2020, let me know and I’ll be in touch as we get closer. 

Our camping programs touch and change lives in amazing ways. Both Camp Tamarack and Camp Cazadero are worthy of your support in both time and treasure. The Conference web page has options for designating gifts for Camp Caz, Camp Tam and the camping program in general. 

Thank you for all the prayers, good thoughts and expressions of concern when Camp Tam was threatened and we didn’t know if it would survive. We were truly blessed, and will be eternally grateful for the efforts of the fire fighters who saved the camp! 

Seasons greetings and blessings to all. 

Wade Hobson, Camp Tamarack Onsite Manager