While campers at Kamp Dovetail were recently busy enjoying fishing, horseback riding, boat rides and crafts, camp officials found themselves closely monitoring weather reports that showed strong storms and damaging winds were on the horizon. And while camp officials were on high alert and prepared to evacuate if needed, it was just another day of fun for Dovetail campers from Adams, Brown, Butler, Clark, Clinton, Clermont, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Warren counties in Ohio and Bracken and Perry counties in Kentucky.
According to Camp Director Linda Allen, each year camp volunteers attend an October staff retreat where they prepare for several types of evacuations. With solid procedures in place, staffers know exactly how to respond in the event of excessive heat, flood, storm, and/or tornado evacuations.
“In the event that we have to use one of the plans, the staff is trained and ready to act upon my command,” said Allen. “We have the supplies needed for each evacuation plan ready.”
According to Allen, on Thursday, June 23, camp officials made hourly contact with the National Weather Service, Hillsboro City Schools administrators, bus drivers, and the KAMP staff. Everyone was prepared and waiting on the phone call to start the evacuation process. Once the decision was made to evacuate, there was plenty of time to activate the plan before the storm hit. There was no rush or panic.
While campers boarded busses that would transport them to Hillsboro Elementary School, staffers had bags and tags ready to secure all overnight supplies each camper needed, including bedding, a change of clothes, and any personal items due to bed-wetting and trouble sleeping devices. These bags were put in designated vehicles and taken to the school.
Next, staffers and volunteers took the remaining items out of each tent, placed them in bags tagged with their campers’ and group’s name, and relocated these supplies to designated areas such as shower houses where they would stay dry until campers returned. Nothing was left in the tents to get wet.
The medical and nurse’s station also had supplies and medicines ready to evacuate. The kitchen staff had snacks and pre-packaged drinks ready to ship to the shelter location.
Once arriving at the elementary school, staff members were in charge of each designated room. There were two rooms for boys and the large gymnasium for the girls, where bedding was organized and campers gathered to sing a few songs, hear a few stories, and then settled in for the night.
Camp security patrolled the rooms throughout the night, and the kitchen staff made necessary arrangements to serve breakfast the following morning.
While the calm after the storm found campers enjoying popcorn and a movie at Star Cinemas, GE employees worked to clear the camp of fallen debris and to clean and dry the tents so that KAMP Dovetail campers could return later that day.
Looking back on the week’s events, Allen says she cannot say enough about how proud she is of the way the KAMP Dovetail volunteers and campers handled the evacuation. It was a very smooth and easy transition.
“In the event of a chance of severe weather, I will not risk anything happening to one of my campers or volunteers,” said Allen. “It is our job to give them a safe and memorable week. And we did.”
Information for this article was provided by Diana Miller, who coordinates communications for several area schools.