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Storm Damage Won't Push Back Camp Opening

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A popular summer camp for kids in the Sioux Empire received significant damage during the April ice storm. And how just weeks before the camp is set to open crews are still hard at work cleaning it all up.

Just shy of almost a month after a spring ice storm devastated the Sioux Empire, it’s clear cleanup along the 66 acres of Leif Ericson Camp is far from over.
“We have an estimated 500 trees down with limbs and such on our entire property,” said Associate Executive Director of YMCA Peggy Van Alyne.

The YMCA puts on the outdoor camp every summer for kids ages six to nine. Van Alyne said cleanup crews told them it would take 20 to 30 days to pick up the mess Mother Nature left behind. But the hard work is paying off because several crews have been sawing, picking up and hauling away debris piles. They are ahead of schedule and the camp is set to open on June 3 as planned.
“There's a lot of destruction out at the camp from the trees, but I think we are going to recover 100 percent from it,” said Van Alyne.

 But what makes all this destruction devastating Van Alyne said, is that a lot of these trees have sentimental value.

“We did lose our big Cotton Wood Bowl Tree, which is by the Gnome Bridge, and that was a big attraction for the kids,” said Van Alyne.

But she said considering the tree damage around the campsite, they're lucky it wasn’t any worse.

“We didn't lose any major structures that would have affected our camping operations. Which like I said, there was some angel over camping taking care of it,” Van Alyne said.

And the only things campers may notice are the new activities available.

“We are adding a photography class and a water park attraction,” said Van Alyne.

And just a couple of weeks from now, the sound of chainsaws, will be replaced with the sound of children’s laughter.

The camp is looking for volunteers to help with their cleanup efforts. The next three Saturdays, volunteers will be meeting at the camp at 9 a.m. to help get the trails and park areas ready for campers.  

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