(Fred Huff photo; click view slideshow for more photos.)
The decision was made by the District Advisory Board after a meeting with an insurance agent, adjuster, and Executive Camp Director Stan Yocom.
Nearly 90 percent of the park's buildings were destroyed by fire, but New Mexico District Superintendent J. Fred Huff said the camp still has enough beds for 358 people.
The Little Bear fire, caused by a lightning strike, claimed nearly 42,000 acres in the state as of Thursday. The fire destroyed 138 of the 154 structures at Bonita Park, including cabins, permanent homes, and the gym.
Huff said the destruction was "indescribable."
"The closest things I have seen to the devastation is a volcano lava flow that destroyed Nazarene property in the Congo in Africa, cyclone destruction in Fiji, and south Florida after Hurricane Andrew," he said.
Last Sunday, June 17, an outdoor service was held at nearby Fort Stanton to celebrate that no one was injured and no lives lost. The service was led by Rick Hutchison, pastor of Angus Church of the Nazarene on the Bonita Park property, with Yocom and Huff speaking. About 200 people attended the service and a dinner on the grounds that followed. Among those in attendance were New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez and Councilman Tom Battin, a Nazarene. Both provided encouragement to the victims of the fire as they begin the recovery process.
Residents who were allowed to return to their homes in the area were asked to conserve water in light of continued fire-fighting efforts, and to boil water for five minutes before use.
"We grieve with those who have lost their homes and earthly posessions, but we rejoice that no lives were lost," Huff said. "Thank you, Nazarenes, for your prayer for the New Mexico District as we start the process of rebuilding Bonita Park Camp and Conference Center."
For additional photos, visit the Bonita Park Nazarene Camp and Conference Center Facebook page by clicking here.
According to the Colorado State Parks website, a new fire is spreading in Eleven Mile State Park. The park is in Lake George, Colorado, not far from the Nazarene-owned Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center in Divide, Colorado.
The following message from a camp representative was posted on Facebook via Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Colorado Springs:
“We are near the fire at 11 Mile, but it is still 15-20 miles away and we are in no danger … Of course if anyone would like to pray for rain it would be much appreciated.”
How to Help
Donations are being accepted to help with recovery efforts at Bonita Park. To give through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries online, click here.
Global Treasury Services
Church of the Nazarene
P.O. Box 843116
Kansas City, MO 64184-3116
Be sure to put ACM1282 – New Mexico Campground Fire in the memo area.
Make checks payable "Church of the Nazarene Canada" and send them to:
Church of the Nazarene Canada
20 Regan Road, Unit 9
Brampton, Ontario L7A 1C3
Be sure to put ACM1282 - New Mexico Campground Fire in the memo area.