As I write this letter, our Bogrim and Sollelim chalutzim (campers) are out on their massaot (trips). We have groups kayaking, climbing, hiking, biking and white water rafting, and engaging in service projects in Buena Vista. Our Metayalim chalutzim are spending the morning at a wolf preserve and are heading to Wellington Lake for the afternoon to swim and bike. Those of us who have been at the chava (ranch) this week have been running programs for the Metayalimers during their time between massaot, and planning for this upcoming weekend, when all our chalutzim will be back in camp.
While our camp program has been operating normally, unfortunately not all is well in Colorado. As you have most likely heard, the wildfires burning throughout the state are worsened by the extreme drought conditions plaguing our region. Over the past two days, we have received many calls and emails from parents, colleagues, and friends checking on our safety and asking how they can help. We greatly appreciate the outpouring of concern and want everyone to know that our ranch and chalutzim and staff are safe and not in harm’s way. We made certain to reroute all massaot away from areas with forest fires.
At the moment, the closest fire—the Waldo Canyon fire—remains over 35 miles from our chava. We hope that this blaze will be brought under control soon, and our prayers are with the tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes as well as with the brave men and women who are fighting the fire. In the meantime, we are monitoring the fires and are in constant contact with our sheriff and fire chief. (One of the nice parts of running a camp in a rural part of the state is that the fire chief and sheriff have given us not only their work numbers, but also their cell phones and home numbers. The fire chief was at our camp on Monday just to check in on us.) If the fire spreads in our direction and we are forced to evacuate camp, one of them would give the order and we would immediately implement our emergency action plan, which includes removing all campers and staff to a safe location in Denver. The safety and health of our camp community is always our primary concern.
While we appreciate the desire to help us here at camp, at this point the people who need the most help are the families who have been displaced by these blazes and the first responders who are working day and night to control the flames. Our local Federation is collecting funds to give directly to those in need. Please consider making a financial contribution by visiting www.jewishcolorado.org.
The first half of session I has flown by. It is hard to believe that we are already saying good-bye to our first set of two-week chalutzim on Monday and welcoming a new group on Tuesday. It is heartwarming to see so many smiling faces each day and to hear the excited squeals of children who have accomplished their goals for the first time, be it at the archery range, in the horse corral, or on the sports field. When our kehilla (community) is reunited tomorrow for Shabbat, there will certainly be even more exchanging of exciting stories about the amazing experiences during their time away from camp.
Please remember that we post frequent updates from camp on our Facebook page. As always, please do not hesitate to call or email with any questions or concerns.