N.M. Church Camp Fire Recovery Continues
Bonita Park Nazarene Camp and Conference Center breaks ground today (Dec. 9) on a $3.55 million events center, marking a milestone in the campground’s ongoing recovery from the devastating Little Bear Fire two summers ago.
The blaze swept away more than 250 structures in the Lincoln National Forest, including 138 structures at Bonita Park, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The campground lost homes, as well as more than 100 cabins, a chapel, a gymnasium and a snack bar. The construction of the new, 33,000-square-foot events center – outfitted with a track, basketball and volleyball courts, a rock-climbing wall, 5,000 square feet of meeting space and a snack shop – should fill a gap in camp life that the fire left.
“It’s a huge step,” said Connor Bryan, the camp's activities director who evacuated with his wife and four boys before the June 2012 fire destroyed his staff housing. “One of the biggest hits we took was losing our gym.”
The camp recouped $2 million in insurance that will provide seed money for the project.
Bryan said the camp is seeking donations but has also lined up financing to cover the remaining $1.55 million, if needed.
“To get back on our feet we decided we couldn’t wait the five years it might take to raise this money,” he said. “We have over 10,000 campers a year who come to this park. We need a place for them to go.”
The Little Bear fire began when lightning struck on June 4, 2012, igniting a forested area.
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