Fire damage at the Bonita Park Campground and Conference Center in New Mexico. (Facebook photo; Click View Slideshow for additional photos.)
Fire roars through Nazarene camp
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Capitan, New Mexico
By NCN News Staff
On Saturday, June 9, New Mexico District Superintendent J. Fred Huff requested urgent prayer for Bonita Park Camp in New Mexico as a fire threatened the district-owned and operated campground and conference center. 

“The fire has encroached on two sides of Bonita Park,” Huff said on Saturday. “All residents, summer staff, staff, and campers have been evacuated. Everyone is safe and accounted for.”

Bonita Park is located in the Rocky Mountains of south-central New Mexico on 200 acres of pine-covered woodlands in the heart of Lincoln National Forest. 

According to its website, Bonita Park “is a Christ-centered ministry seeking to facilitate spiritual enrichment, social development, physical and mental renewal in a Christ-centered atmosphere encouraging worship, fellowship, meditation, and reflection upon the Word of God.”

The fire, caused by a lightning strike, roared through the camp, leaving considerable destruction.

On Sunday afternoon camp senior staff member Brenda Garber and her husband, Paul, were allowed on the campgrounds to survey the damage. Huff said they reported to the camp’s executive director, Stan Yocum, that only seven cabins and houses were left standing on the grounds: Crow, Schmelzanbach, Stanton, Hodges, Forbes, Carruthers, and the Huff/D.S. cabin.

“All staff housing has been destroyed and the permanent homes of nearly all who lived on the grounds are gone,” Huff said. “Some of the vehicles were destroyed and some were left intact.”

Prayer is requested for those who were evacuated and those whose houses were destroyed.

“Many of our Bonita Park residents have lost all their earthly goods,” Huff said. “Someone who lost their home and possessions said ‘we lost all the stuff, but no one was injured or died in the fire and for that we are thankful.’

“We praise God that there was no loss of life due to the devastating fire.”

The news of the fire quickly reached Church of the Nazarene General Superintendent Jerry D. Porter.

"We grieve with all those who have lost their homes and all their possessions and we pray the Lord's grace and presence will sustain them," Porter said.

The structures that remain standing at this time on the lower area of the camp are Armstrong Tabernacle, Morris Dining Center, the pool building, Freeman Village, Ingram Village, the pond house, Angus Church, and the D.S. house.

Crisis management meetings have already begun, Huff reported.

“Thank you to the thousands of Nazarenes and friends of Bonita Park Nazarene Camp and Conference Center who are praying for us during these difficult challenges,” Huff said. “Please pray for wisdom for those who have many decisions before them.”

There will be a celebration service on Sunday, June 17, at 10 a.m. led by Rick Hutchinson, pastor of the Angus Church of the Nazarene located at Bonita Park Camp. The service will be held at Fort Stanton as the road leading up to the park is blocked and no one is allowed on the campgrounds. The group will celebrate that no person was injured or worse in the fire.

For additional photos, visit the Bonita Park Nazarene Camp and Conference Center Facebook page by clicking here.

Donations are being accepted to help with recovery efforts at Bonita Park. To give through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries online, click here

To send donations by mail, make checks payable to "General Treasurer" and send them to:

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.

In Canada:
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. 
--NCM USA/Canada 

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  • As one who holds fond memories of going to summer camp on another district, I send my sympathies ... TANGIBILIFY on 06/16/12
  • Our church was scheduled the week of June 25th for a week of camp. Can someone get me the phone n... KDJOHNSON on 06/12/12
  • I have been associated with the camp grounds since 1946. My father Ernest Wagner was part of the... EMILY on 06/10/12