The following is updated weather-related camp information we wanted to share.
#1 The Iowa 4-H Center has emergency procedures in place to prepare us for situations like severe weather. The Iowa 4-H Center is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) every year. They require us to have detailed written emergency procedures. Our 26 full-time summer camp staff also go through two weeks of intensive training before each summer camp season that covers our emergency procedures, CPR & First Aid training, practice drills, and the location/use of emergency equipment around camp. Rental groups and visitors at the camp also have a camp staff member assigned to their group as a host while they are here and this person is responsible for orientating each group upon arrival with our emergency procedures and are to alert them to any severe weather and assist them in following our procedures. We do not have a tornado siren at camp, but we do have other means of effective emergency communication. Each lodge at the Iowa 4-H Center is equipped with an intercom phone system to communicate emergency information. We also have three weather radios at camp that are monitored closely during the day and staff are assigned for night watch to answer phone calls, watch the weather, and put our emergency procedures into action if needed. Staff also carry portable walkie-talkie radios with them so we can reach everyone with necessary alerts. In addition we also have a large bell at camp that we ring three times in a row repeatedly to alert groups to seek shelter. If there is a threat of weather we keep groups in activities in or near buildings so they are close to shelter if the weather worsens. Our rainy day activities are quite popular and help campers pass the time while waiting inside and we try our best to keep the campers busy having fun and not worried about the weather. The staff are trained to remain calm and proceed as needed to keep the campers safe. Due to the size of our camp and the distance between buildings, our primary weather emergency shelter location is the bathroom areas of the 5 main lodges in each camp village. The campers are told to gather inside the concrete walls of the bathrooms because they are the innermost part of the buildings and away from windows. In a last resort the staff are told to stay in the cabins, get in the middle of the room, and cover the group with mattresses from the beds. The only basement we have at camp is under our health center (Cedar Lodge), but it is not designed for large groups.
#2 The Iowa 4-H Center is NOT flooded! Yes, we are wet and muddy, but not flooded. Our camp was fortunately built on high ground and we are surrounded by multiple ravines that drain all of the water to the Des Moines River and Richardson’s creek around us.
#3 The Iowa 4-H Center is open and operating as normal. Yes, there are some of our typical summer camp programs that we have to substitute with other activities, but flexibility and “camp” go hand-in-hand. For example: the creek is too high for creek walks but we have been doing day hikes in the woods and out to the wetlands or the pond instead. The river is also too swollen for river canoe trips (but Pack & Paddle camp next week is still on!), so we are canoeing on our camp pond and other local lakes instead. All other camp program areas are open for use, just please send old shoes with your campers because the trails are wet and muddy after it rains.
#4 We just had 1,111.49 tons of new gravel put on the camp road!! Getting to camp from across the state may pose a problem for some of you with road closures in various towns, but all of the roads in and out of camp are very passable and not in any threat of being closed due to excess water. The only road even close to camp that is closed is Highway 30 between Ogden and Boone and they have re-routed traffic to E-57 that is actually closer to camp. If you have concerns about road closures, please visit this DOT website: http://www.iowaroadconditions.org/. #5 The Ames day camp pick-up and drop off location will be changed from Brookside Park to Emma McCarthy Lee Park off of Ross Road if Ames closes the roads around Brookside Park again. For now, please continue to use the Brookside Park location. If we get enough lead time, we will try to email all day camp parents about road closures, but if roads are closed overnight, we will call you from the day camp vans to alert you of the location change. If you need directions to the alternative park location, please visit this website: http://www.cityofames.org/ParksRecWeb/EmmaMcCarthyLeePark.htm. NOTICE: Right before we sent this message out we were informed that Brookside Park in Ames has recently been closed due to flooding, so our Thursday afternoon June 12th pick-up location WILL BE at Lee Park today! Finally…Our staff realize the trust you are placing in us to keep your children safe while they are here at the Iowa 4-H Center and we take our responsibility very seriously. John has children of his own and I am expecting my first child in September, so we do understand the concerns you have shared with us through the calls and emails we have answered so far. If you have further questions, please feel free to call the camp office at 515-795-3338 or 515-795-2389. You are also welcome to call Traci’s cell phone number at 515-291-1093. We will be posting updates on the main page of our website at www.iowa4hcamp.com if conditions change and we need to alert you of further information.
Sincerely, Traci, John, and the 2008 Iowa 4-H Center summer camp staff
Camp Program Specialist
Iowa 4-H Center
1991 Peach Avenue
Madrid, Iowa 50156
phone: (515) 795-3338
fax: (515) 795-2107