Karen Joins me at CYO/Camp Howard

Karen and Chuck to the Rescue

October 29, 2020

3 days till National Vocation Awareness Week

#22 in a series of 25 short stories

During the winter of 2008-09, a huge winter storm hit Camp Howard falling sixteen trees due to heavy ice and snow. Thanks be to God, not a single building was hit by any of the trees but every electrical line in camp was brought down and the main electrical pole bringing power into the camp snapped like a toothpick. The camp was a mess. Three feet of snow covered the camp. Trees were strewn around the camp and the neighbors were ready to move out. The camp caretaker at the time called me to report the status of the camp and the fact that they had no power or heat.

Fortunately, my “go to” people were my blood sister, Karen and our brother-in-law, Chuck. I called them both to let them know what was going on as it was Christmas Eve. They geared up with diesel fuel, gasoline, chains, jumper cables and various other items as they headed to camp to free the caretaker family and neighbors from their situation. Karen and Chuck were able to plow the roads, get the equipment going and help the neighbors make it to town.

When Karen and Chuck returned, they brought plenty of photos which really showed the severity of the storm. I knew this would be a serious situation to get cleaned up and that it would take someone like Karen to lead the way. I asked her if she would shut her freight truck business down for a while and help us get the camp cleaned up. She graciously agreed to help get things turned around for us as her team began the three-month process of getting the camp cleaned up. It took a few weeks for the snow to melt and access the camp, but once it melted, they began the grueling task of cleaning the camp.

All of the sixteen downed trees had to be cut up and stacked then dried for future firewood for the camp.

Several trees had to be cut down that had been damaged. The tops of the trees for example had been lost or they were tilted ready to go over.

Branches, limbs, twigs, and needles carpeted the forest floor. Fortunately, Karen was a very handy with tractors and equipment and was able to use it to our advantage. She recommended we purchase a landscape rake from John Deere which we were able to pull behind the tractor which she then used to clean up the never-ending carpet of debris.

Outdoor School was scheduled to move in on March 8, 2009. It took all of January and February to complete the arduous task of cleaning the camp, but on March 7th, PGE came out and reconnected the power lines. The camp was shut from Christmas until March, the longest shut down in the history of the camp. Fortunately, we were able to reopen just as the Outdoor School was ready to move in.

Later in the year I had the opportunity to ask Karen if she would be interested in taking over the management of the camp as the Property Director. I was extremely blessed that she was ready to park the freight trucks and get back into property management. Our rentals set records with her management and service. The fields, building management and kitchen were all kicked up to a new level of service. I am very grateful to be working with my blood-sister, Karen at Camp Howard.

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