Leaders of rescued Groveland camp thankful

Union Democrat staff /

A Groveland camp for children with special medical needs, spared by the Rim Fire's destructive path, is planning some clean up before reopening to campers in two weeks.

"I was just certain all was lost," said Jerry Baker, president of the foundation that owns Camp Tuolumne Trails. "Then a miracle happened."

That miracle came in the form of a DC-10 dropping fire retardant and protecting the camp's buildings and most of its 80 acres of recreation areas and vegetation. Baker estimates only a couple acres at the edge of the camp's property burned.

Camp Tuolumne Trails, off Ferretti Road, opened in 2008 to give children with special medical needs a summer camp experience.

The camp was between groups last week when the Rim Fire struck.

"Fortunately, we didn't have to evacuate 50 kids in wheelchairs," said volunteer Virginia Richmond.

The Rim Fire forced the cancellation of a few groups, including some special-needs campers from Stockton.

The camp plans to host Operation Freedom Paws in about two weeks. That group allows veterans and others with disabilities to train their own service dogs.

Along with losing money due to fewer camping sessions, the camp lost hundreds of dollars worth of food in the subsequent power outage.

"It's small potatoes compared to what we could be looking at now," Baker said.

The camp will host its annual fundraiser next week in San Jose.

Donations can be sent to: Camp Tuolumne Trails, 22988 Ferretti Road, Groveland CA 95321. Visit www.tuolumnetrails.org for more information.

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