SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA) — College students are taking time out of their holiday break to clean up a campsite in Siloam Springs. The camp was damaged after tornadoes swept through the area two months ago.
David Beavers is a student at the University of Arkansas Little Rock and one of the students who volunteered his time. “It was crazy because I’ve been coming here for a long time when I was a little kid. To see trees fallen everywhere and trees on some dorms back there it was kind of sad.”
About 20 students from the University of Arkansas Little Rock and Poluski Technology College are cleaning up Camp Siloam after tornadoes swept through the area in October.
Bekah Gulledge said being back at Camp Siloam is bittersweet. “I first it was just hard to hear about the devastation but seeing it was a lot different… One of the gazebos that fell down I use to meet in there. That was where we had our time to reflect on what we learned that day in camp. It was really sad because it had a lot of names on it from the past years. Having to throw that stuff away was pretty hard.”
Seven structures are damaged and one cabin completely destroyed. It will need to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. Camp Director, Jason Wilkie said the storm caused more than $215,000 worth of damages. 4 power poles were brought down and two of the building are still without power.
For the past four days, these students have been hard at work. “I’ve picked up a lot of trees. Our group has really good working together, picking up brush, burning it and cutting wood,” said Gulledge.
Metro Baptist Collegiate ministry, Campus Minister John Venters said “I think what is great about our group is that we can do thousands of dollars of work and save the camp a lot of money… They have a wood splitter here and so we have just been going to town, cutting wood, piling it as high as we can, as much as we can. We have an overabundance of a resource right now.”
It wasn’t all work. “We had smores last night,” Gulledge said.
“They have sacrificed this time to better Camp Siloam and Siloam Springs as a whole,” John Venters said.