Thursday, January 28, 2010

Power Restored to Camp Wawona

It took close to forty electric crews almost a week to restore full time power to Camp Wawona but the wait was worth it. Steady power now flows through the lines, lighting and warming the buildings all over camp. Along with the return of electric energy came the restoration of phone and internet services.

Camp Staff, along with the outside expertise of the contractor in charge of the building project, are still working to assess the two failed generators in an effort to either salvage or scrap what's left of the 50-year-old behemoths. If the review proves the generators have breathed their last, Camp Staff are praying for God to provide new(er) generators so that the ministry at camp won't be interrupted by power outages due to weather. For now, however, camp staff are marveling at the wonder of the lightbulb and re-discovering the power of the internet all over again.

Power crews gather in the parking lot of the Wawona General Store.

Light bulbs shine for the first time in a week.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Neighbors Lend Camp Wawona a Much Needed Hand

Misery loves company. But in Wawona, California the company alleviates misery. CW Staff woke up on Friday, January 22 to many challenges. A tree had fallen on the medical building, seven trees had fallen across camps road to the top, a tree had fallen in front of the cafe across CW's main power lines, and no chainsaw. M5, a Kawasaki Mule used to assist in plowing goes down as does CW's main plow truck and snowblower. The icing on the cake is the failure of Generator 1, causing camp to lose all power including phone lines and internet. With no chainsaw to remove trees, no vehicles to plow with, and no power to keep food cold or the office running, camp staff scratch their heads at what to do next. 
Enter the local community of Wawona, CA. A phone call to the local school nets valuable advice on where to find help from Michelle, the teacher of the school. However, Michelle notifies another neighbor, Jaimie, of camp's situation and help begins to arrive. Jaimie notifies NPS (National Park Service) who promptly arrive at camp and remove the biggest tree from the road as well as plow all the way to camp. Another neighbor, Ed, arrives with two chainsaws for camp to borrow. Ed is followed by Jon, Jaimie's husband, who shows up to help camp staff diagnose the problem causing Generator 1 to fail. Though initially unsuccessful in their attempts to restart Generator 1, Jon returns to help again, and even spends more of his own time to research the problem from home.  Camp staff were greatly encouraged by help received from the local community and wish to thank those who gave their time and energies to assist Camp Wawona in it's time of need. 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Property Damaged as Snowstorm Continues.

Snow continues to fall on Camp Wawona and the trees just can't take it anymore. Weighed down with the heavy, wet snow, branches, limbs, and entire trees crack and fall to the ground. While nobody in the local community has been hurt by the falling trees, buildings and vehicles have been less fortunate. 
Cedar, Camp Wawona's summertime medical building, was grazed by one such falling tree. The building itself escaped with relatively minor damage, but the railing which lines the road passing in front of the longhouse wasn't so lucky.
"The tree twisted as it fell" said Donnie Keele, "that is what saved the building from massive roof damage but the railing is a total loss."
The cafeteria escaped untouched as a tree directly to the North chose to fall away from the building instead of falling backward and crushing the roof. Still, that tree took out camp's main power lines.
The Redwoods, a local business that rents outs accommodations, lost a plow truck to a falling tree.
Area roads were also effected by downed trees as all park roads were closed for two days. At Camp Wawona, four downed trees blocked passageway to to the top. Lacking a working chainsaw longer than 8 inches, CW staff were unable to clear the roads until a helpful neighbor lent two working chainsaws to the cause. NPS (National Park Service) also paid camp a visit to help clear the roads of downed trees and power lines. 

A mule that got parked in an unfortunate location shows the amount of snow which fell in one night.

Cedar, Camp Wawona's summertime medical building is grazed by a falling tree.

Looking at the still standing trunk of the fallen tree. Note the demolished railing.

Because the tree twisted as it fell, Cedar escapes with minor damage.

The Redwoods plow truck is totaled by a falling tree.

A closer look at the totaled plow truck.

Generators Go Down in Heaviest Snowstorm of the Season.

When it rains it pours…or in this case dumps. For five straight days Camp Wawona has experienced heavy amounts of snow with occasional breaks for rain. Power went out early in the week so camp staff turned to the two large generators in lower camp to fill the need.
After 15 hours of continuous use, Generator 2, which powers the office, cafeteria, and upper camp, failed to generate power even though the motor was running fine. With the fridge warming up and the phone lines down, God answered camp staffs prayer for help in the form of a generator repairperson who happened to be in the area. With some rewiring and calculated breaker switch-flipping, the camp was able to limp along on one Generator 1.
However, less than 24 hours later, Generator 1 experienced an excessive power load and had to be shut down to preserve its structural integrity. After the load was adjusted via the breaker panel, CW staff attempted to restart Generator 1 without success. With the failure of both generators camp is currently without power meaning a total loss of communications and a food supply in danger of spoiling as it warms. Neighbors of Camp Wawona have been lending a helpful hand in trying to diagnose the generator issues but with no luck. Park officials estimate power will not be fully restored until Friday, January 29. Still unsure of what is causing the generators to fail, camp staff face a repair bill ranging from $4,000 at best for new parts to $50,000 at worst for two new generators.

The Generator House located in Lower Camp.

Ryan Kloosterhuis measures power coming from Generator 1.

Anthony Handal and Ryan Kloosterhuis work on Generator 2.

The back of Generator 2.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cafeteria Floors Shine with New Finish

Camp Wawona’s cafeteria got a little brighter as camp staff stripped and refinished the kitchen and dining room floors with a high gloss wax. The process, which involved relocating anything not permanently installed and then applying a three-step refinishing system, took several days but paid off in the end with a like-new glossy shine. To protect the newly finished floors in the dining room, staff removed the old feet from the benches and installed new felt tips so each bench can easily and safely slide, protecting the floor and making it easier for visitors to sit at the tables. Staff finished re-organizing the cafeteria just in time for the Tri-Campus Retreat – the first user group of 2010! Pictures of the refinishing process and bench sliders are below.

Beginning the moving process.

Dining room floor before refinishing.

more items are moved from the kitchen into the serving area.

The dish room holds anything not nailed down in the kitchen.

The girls take turns using the buffer.

The serving area and dining room post refinishing.

Dining room floor shines like new!

Close-up of the refinished floor

New felt-tipped sliders help the benches slide without damaging the floor.

CW Staff Teach Ski/Snowboard Lessons To Wawona School

Each Wednesday kids attending the small elementary school in Wawona load a bus and head to Badger Pass, the local ski hill inside Yosemite, for a winter sports day. As with swimming lessons in the summer, Camp Wawona staff volunteered to teach ski and snowboard lessons and help out wherever needed. So far, Ryan Kloosterhuis has taught all the snowboard lessons while Jerrod Gabel and Donnie Keele split the beginner skiing lessons over two Wednesdays. Earlier this year camp staff attended the Mountain Area Ski School training program which gave them valuable training and helpful tips on teaching winter sports. Camp Wawona staff look forward to each Wednesday as well as any other opportunities to serve the local community. Pictures of the last ski day are below.

Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite National Park.

Students gather for their winter sports day.

Ryan Kloosterhuis teaches Garret the tricks of the trade.

Donnie Keele observes Garret's awesomeness.

Ryan and Garret at the end of the day.

Jon and Donnie with their young ski pupil, Jade.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

CW Student Missionary Callings Go Live on

Camp Wawona has a great full time staff, but they could always use a little help. That's why each year (starting in 2009) Camp Wawona hires an additional four Task Force Student Missionaries and without them the camp program simply wouldn't function as well. While God blessed us with four TF staff from our summer camp team this year, CW staff understood the need to put out an official call through the proper channels if they were going to receive staff for next year. is the N.A.D.'s official organization that handles calls being sent out for both short term mission trips and long term missionaries. After a review period of several weeks, Camp Wawona's listing finally went live, making the call official. Please keep Camp Wawona in your prayers as God chooses four more young people to serve His ministry here at Camp Wawona in 2010-2011.

CW's posting on To see it for yourself click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

CW Staff Roster Complete

The final two full time positions on Camp Wawona's team have been filled, ending the 1.5-year search to fill the five positions that make up the full-time year 'round team (CW also hires four student missionaries each year). Jerrod Gabel and Paulette Bair officially started Jan. 1, 2010 as the new and much-needed maintenance director and Food Service Director.

Gabel moved from Chattanooga, TN where he was working on a masters degree in outdoor education. He has served for several years as horsemanship director and assistant camp director at sister institution Camp Mivoden.

Bair, along with assistant and friend Carol Krause, joined the Camp Wawona team from Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, Florida where they had served the past seven years.

The addition of two highly skilled, full-time area directors has proven crucial, making camp operations more efficient and professional almost overnight.

Maintenance Director Jerrod Gabel works to reorganize the shop.

Food Service Director Paulette Bair (left) and assistant Carol Krause (right) stand on the front porch of Valley Oak.