- Saturday: 6PM
- Sunday: 9 & 11AM
In the late night hours of August 18, 2020 the CZU Lightning Complex Fire tore through Camp Hammer.
By morning, 24 structures and virtually all of camp’s infrastructure, vehicles and equipment were destroyed. Our Azalea cabin, central fire pit and amphitheater, recreation field, sand volleyball court, redwood stage, 3 utility sheds and a few water tanks are all that remain.
We continue to praise God that our staff and their families (18 in all) safely evacuated earlier in the evening. Since the fire, we have been providing housing, reimbursements for personal belongings, counseling and other assistance to our camp staff. We will continue to do so through July of this year. But since there will be no viable operations at Camp Hammer for the foreseeable future, it has become necessary for these beloved employees to transition to other jobs. Please continue to pray for each of them!
It is a new era at Camp Hammer. And what the Lord has in store for the property and any future ministry is yet to unfold.
For now, we’re putting our efforts into clearing building sites, removing dead and dangerous trees, and addressing challenges to rebuilding. We trust that God—in his perfect timing—will provide a clear path forward.
“What struck me last night as I watched the orange skies of the still-raging fire is that while the Camp Hammer destruction may seem overwhelmingly daunting, it also has the opportunity to become a story of resurrection. Perhaps not in the same vein as Camp existed for 55 years (time will tell), but as we know, the Lord uses moments of tragedy. Yesterday I couldn’t help but think that on the day of the crucifixion, the skies would have been even more ominous, and the feeling of hopelessness far surpassing the emotions we feel now. And yet we know what happened on that third day; the most amazing gift, one that couldn’t even be imagined. So I’m hopeful that whatever may come, God will somehow use this dark moment in time for something good, and that one day we’ll look back in amazement that out of the ashes (literally) something arose that continued to change lives and lead people to Jesus, just as Camp has done. And if that’s a re-born Camp Hammer, that’s great. But even if God seems to lead TLC in another direction, we can be encouraged that it will be God’s plan for TLC.”
With a mild winter and a lot of erosion control materials (rice waddles, silt fencing and hay bales) placed throughout our camp property, we were able avoid erosion and debris flow problems. Keeping the remains of our burned buildings contained until we can remove them has been a big priority. In order to get the burn sites fully cleaned we applied for assistance from the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). This is how most of the properties impacted by the CZU Complex Fire will have their burn sites cleared.
So far it appears CalOES has been focusing on residential structures. But just days ago we learned that Camp Krem, which is located about 4 miles away from Camp Hammer, received approval for this government cleanup program. Please pray we will receive the same! If not we will work with a private contractor to get the job done but it will come at additional financial cost.
Once the building sites are cleared we will be removing close to 120 trees that were killed in the fire and now present a safety hazard. Our goal is to remove these trees by the end of summer.
Meanwhile, we continue to prayerfully seek the Lord's direction for the future of Camp Hammer. The current condition of the property poses a number of challenges. The redwood forest that provides our beautiful setting will eventually recover but it will happen at its own pace--where progress is measured in decades, not years.
Also, our insurance carrier has indicated they will not provide fire coverage for any future buildings. This is part of a growing trend in California. Insurance carriers are deeming more and more mountainous to areas to be uninsurable.
So again, please pray the Lord will give us clear guidance as we evaluate both the challenges and opportunities before us. For 55 years God used Camp Hammer to impact thousands upon thousands of lives. Nothing would thrill us more than to see Camp have a second act. But for the moment we are focused on the things we know we must do: removing the burn debris and hazardous trees. From there Camp Hammer remains where it has always been: the sure and capable hands of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We've heard from many of you who would like to volunteer with cleanup efforts at Camp Hammer! Thank you for your love of camp and desire to serve! At the moment we are finalizing a work plan that is focused on erosion control and containing debris from the burned structures. This will involve installing straw waddles, silt fences and sand bags. However, before we can perform the work we need to make sure it can be done safely--especially when it comes to our volunteers.
We will be providing updates and additional details once we have finalized the work plan. To receive these updates directly please email
Thanks again and God Bless!
Many of you have been asking how our camp director Eric Swanson-Dexel, his family, and the staff are doing. Rene met via zoom with Eric and Sarah to answer your most frequently asked questions about the fire.
Hello dear friends,
Our Camp Hammer was severely damaged by the wildfire on Tuesday night August 18. First let me say we are very grateful our staff are all safe.
However, after two visits to the site, we can confirm that, with the exception of three of the original cabins, the field stage, and two sheds, all other buildings at Camp Hammer were completely destroyed by the fire. Of the three cabins, Azalea appears to be untouched. The other two, Maple and Oak, were damaged but are still standing. Whether or not they are salvageable remains to be determined. We are assessing the situation with expert consultants. While we hope to rebuild, many questions about remain unanswered; our next steps will become clearer as debris is removed over the next several months.
Please continue to pray for our Camp Hammer staff. Housing has been arranged for all of them, but they carry the grief and shock of losing their homes and workplace. Please pray also that God will bless and direct our steps as we seek His will for the future of Camp Hammer--a ministry God has used to impact thousands upon thousands of lives for the past 55 years.
On hearing this news, those of us with personal ties to camp are shocked, saddened, angry, in denial—in other words, we are grieving. All of these emotions crash in on us at these moments. And all those emotions are valid. They are all a part of the grief process.
But there is one emotion we must resist: Despair.
We must resist despair because first, we know that the ministry of Camp Hammer goes on today in the lives of thousands of campers and staff who were born into the faith there, and grew in the faith there. Today Camp Hammer alumni live all over the world, many in full-time ministry, the Camp Hammer Effect rippling out across the globe every day. No fire that can extinguish that. Is Camp Hammer destroyed? No. Today Camp Hammer is still in California and New York and Japan and Europe and Africa, through the lives of all those shaped there spiritually over decades.
Most of all, in these moments we must recall the central story of our faith:The death and resurrection of Jesus, the most awful tragedy and the most joyful triumph anyone ever experienced.
The cross was real, and tragic, but the empty tomb is real too. Jesus lives. He lives today.
And this is our hope. This is what keeps us going. This is why we can go forward with new hope for the future. No matter how dark it gets, we remember that God ultimately transforms each terrible cross into joyful resurrection. This is the arc, the plotline, of our faith, and through faith I believe we will experience it again even in this.
So today, let’s grieve together, but let’s not despair. Let’s not lose hope. Yes, in life we live through agonizing crucifixions. Loved ones, cherished hopes, and even beloved places, sometimes die.
But our faith reminds us that this is not the end of the story. Not ever. In unexpected ways, resurrection always follows.
Thanks for reading, and for your continued prayers.
Much love in Christ,
Rene Schlaepfer & Mark Spurlock
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23