BOULDER CREEK, Calif. (KION) Staff and parents are heartbroken to hear that parts of Camp Krem were destroyed by the CZU Lightning Complex Fires.
The Boulder Creek camp offers programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Camp Director Christina Krem told KION that the dining hall, bell tower, the building that held their offices and other parts of the camp were destroyed by the flames.
Krem said the bell tower was a place where campers would start off their day with a dance party in the morning. She said a member of the leadership team would ring the bell and called out “Good morning, Camp Krem.”
“All those year of hard work we’ve poured in, so many people have poured in,” said Krem. “Seeing that in a pile of ashes is heart rending.”
The non-profit organization’s campsite in Boulder Creek was set up by her grandfather back in 1963. Thousands of children and adults with developmental disabilities have come through since then.
We went to the camp Wednesday afternoon and found several buildings destroyed and some cabins burnt to the ground. But Krem is focusing on the positive.
“Everybody is safe, all of the people and our animals–our pig, our cat–everyone is safe, that’s the most important things,” Krem said.
The camp is a place where children and adults with disabilities can be themselves and are accepted for who they are. Susan Riggle’s 19-year-old son Tommy has been coming to the camp since 2014.
“He always comes back more confident – he’s happier, more secure,” Riggle said. “It’s something I just didn’t know was even possible.”
Tommy has autism, and Riggle has seen a change in him since he first started going to camp.
“For him to show how happy and comfortable and content he is because of this place and because of his experience has been invaluable,” Riggle said.
Despite the destruction, leaders are optimistic about the future of the camp.
“We’re really hopeful that we can rebuild on our property, that would be the goal. We’ll get a better idea of the extent of the damage once we’re able to go, but absolutely the plan is to rebuild,” Krem said.
It will take some time to rebuild, but Krem said the feelings and memories will still remain.
“What makes camp special is absolutely not the buildings. It’s the feeling and we haven’t lost that. That’s not going anywhere,” Krem said. “The essence and the spirit of the camp is still very much alive.”
The community is rallying behind Camp Krem, delivering messages of support and donations. Krem said they’re very grateful for all the people who are reaching out and have volunteered to pitch in when the time comes.
Right now, they’re raising funds for the clearing and rebuilding process.
If you’d like to donate to the camp, click here or for more information, email email@example.com.
They’re hoping to keep a virtual camp going during the pandemic and then looking to rebuild in the future.