Statement issued by Camp Hope Committee:
While Camp Hope does not own the facilities at Camp Aldrich, we have proudly called it home for our summer camp for over 30 years. We are saddened by the loss caused by the fire not just for us but for all of the other groups who utilize the wonderful facility.
Camp Hope has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Camp Aldrich and Barton Community College, and we look forward to continuing that in the future.
In the meantime, the Camp Hope committee is exploring options on where to hold Camp Hope 2014. We also are waiting to assess the damage done to our supplies that were stored at Camp Aldrich to see what, if anything, is salvageable.
Obviously this is a time of uncertainty for Camp Hope, and we have been overwhelmed by the support both locally and statewide. The amount of people asking how, and what, to donate has been humbling.
Since we lost our storage facility and have not yet been able to assess what supplies are needed, we are for the time being asking that people interested in helping out make financial donations.
Again, we thank everybody for their support. As the title of our Camp Hope theme song says, “We shall prevail."
The Barton Community College Foundation Clay Shoot set for May 4 has been canceled, due to last Saturday’s fire at the Camp Aldrich Conference Center. Meanwhile, sponsors of Camp Hope and dozens of other scheduled events are scrambling to find alternate locations.
The college owns the conference center located between Claflin and the Cheyenne Bottoms Refuge. On Wednesday, BCC Dean of Administration Mark Dean said Camp Aldrich will be closed through the summer.
“We are working to relocate Camp Hope,” Dean said, adding college officials are attempting to contact others who have scheduled events and to make arrangements for refunding their money. There are 35 events scheduled. “Everything from weddings to family reunions and church camps,” he said.
Officials haven’t released what caused the fire in the dining hall, which was reported around 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Claflin Fire Chief Doug Hubbard declared it was “accidental” on Monday, but declined to elaborate pending a report from the state fire marshal’s office.
Dean said college officials are also awaiting official reports before they determine what can be salvaged.
“There probably won’t be a whole lot,” he said. “The majority of the building is gone.” About all that is left of the dining hall is the concrete basement, although firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to other buildings.
Camp Hope, a camp for children with cancer from across the state, has been held at the Barton County facility for more than 30 years. It is being sponsored by the Barton County-based Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation for the first time this year, after the American Cancer Society said it would no longer oversee the camp.
Debbie Reif with Kans for Kids said the Camp Hope Committee met Tuesday to discuss this year’s event.
“Obviously, we are still working on logistics but this is a very determined group of people that will do anything they can to make Camp Hope happen this summer,” Reif said.
A statement released by Kans for Kids notes that Camp Aldrich also served as a storage site for Camp Hope supplies.
“Since we lost our storage facility and have not yet been able to assess what supplies are needed, we are for the time being asking that people interested in helping out make financial donations,” the statement reads. Donations may be made online at http://kans4kidsfoundation.org/fundraising/ or by contacting the organization at email@example.com.
Clay Shoot canceled
While Camp Hope is destined to continue in some form this summer, the Barton Community College Foundation’s Clay Shoot has been canceled for 2014, said Darnell Holopirerk, Barton’s director for institutional advancement.
“We’ve set the date for next year – April 19, 2015,” she said Wednesday.
The event has become the largest sporting clay shoot in the state, and the money raised is used for mini-grants for Barton faculty members to purchase items for their classrooms to enhance the student learning experience, Holopirek said. “Last year we gave over $13,000 in mini-grants.”
After years of being held at LaSada Sporting Clays and Hunting Service in Russell, the shoot was moving to Camp Aldrich for the first time. The move was intended to boost awareness of the camp and its offerings such as deer hunting.
“We’ve worked so hard,” Holopirek said. “This was going to such an awesome event this year. We’ve just got to regroup, and we’ve got the date set for next year.”