Camp Kern Update – May 2021
It has been eight months since Camp Kern was devastated by the Creek Fire. The wildfire consumed most of the structures and ravaged the ponderosa pine forest. Thankfully, the waterfront docks and barges were untouched by the fire and are still on the lakeshore.
Since the fire, many of you have shared stories, memories and photos of experiences at Camp Kern. Keep them coming. The camp has been a special place for Scouts to connect with the outdoors in Scouting since the 1930s. Countless numbers of Scouts have spent summer nights under the stars at Camp Kern. This location has been significant and meaningful to the Southern Sierra Council for over eight decades.
With the onset of winter, not much has happened at Camp Kern since last September. A small team of the Council’s leadership made a site visit with the insurance claim adjuster to assess the damage. Cal OES and the US Forest Service have made a few visits to examine the debris and tag any hazardous materials. Since the road into camp is inaccessible once the snow accumulates, we have not removed any debris or had any equipment enter the property.
As we move into the late spring and summer, the snow will melt and we can get to work at Camp Kern. We are working with FEMA and Fresno County to proceed with proper debris removal. As you can imagine, this is a well-regulated process that requires us to comply with county, state and federal rules to ensure proper removal of materials, sorted by environmental hazards, is done in such a way to not compromise the natural integrity of the landscape. Most of the work will be done by certified contract services.
When there are opportunities for us to work with a volunteer force, we will contact you to enlist your help. Again, with safety as a top priority, please do not enter the camp property without permission from the Southern Sierra Council.
Our priority for the summer of 2021 is to complete the debris removal, dropping dangerous burnt trees, and making the site safe for future activity. Over the next few months, the Council’s Team Phoenix task force will assemble to research, discuss, and present a plan for moving forward to serve the camping/outdoor needs of our Scouts. This will include some visioning sessions for, and consideration of, the most appropriate program elements for Scouting today into the future. We will want your insights and feedback. Any suggestions you have for camping facilities for the Southern Sierra Council can be sent to the Randy Saunders, our Scout Executive at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input is needed and appreciated.
Throughout society and culture all around the world, a bell has a multitude of symbolic meanings and purposes. Bells can symbolize beginnings and endings, a call to order, or even a command or a warning. At Our Camp Kern, the symbol of our bell encompasses all of these.
At the beginning and end of each week, we ring the bell to acknowledge the passage of time, a new group of Campers, and the beginning of the transitory generation. The bell-ringing tradition is more than just a routine gathering; it is an opportunity to recognize all the hard work that campers and staff put in every session.
Mother Nature was invited to ring the bell, with pride, to recognize the hard work and efforts of our firefighters and volunteers. This symbolized the end of an Era at Camp Kern and the start of Southern Sierra Council’s journey into the future.
Our Bell was not discouraged by the fire. When it was all said and done, it had gone through it all, it came out standing strong.
Dear Scouts, Scout Leaders, Volunteers and Supporters,
Despite all of the hopeful reports we have received in the days since the Creek Fire started over Labor Day weekend, it appears that Camp Kern has been devastated by the fire. After viewing the following link https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=1933470ef8ea4c7e9cede56adf54efe1&extent=-13268395.0928%2C4472050.9546%2C-13267477.8484%2C4472462.4008%2C102100, the central part of camp, including the dining hall and other significant structures, have been significantly damaged or destroyed by the fire.
Once conditions in the area allow for us to make an in-person assessment, we will be able to provide more details as to what is a total loss and what can be salvaged. Falling trees are the likely cause of fire damage. Fortunately, our camp facilities are covered by insurance for fire, which will help greatly in restoration.
During this time of sadness and loss, please think about and share your favorite memories of Camp Kern with your Scouts, Scouting friends and family. Our camp has provided the Scouting outdoor adventure to countless numbers of young people and adults for over 80 years. We will need your encouraging thoughts and support to rebuild our camp going forward. We are thankful for the fire fighters and volunteers that are working so hard to spare damage and save lives.