Archive for September, 2013

Welcome Emma Grace Sprain!!!

Congratulations to Andy, Erin and the new big sister Sophia Sprain as they welcomed Emma Grace into the world early this morning.  Emma was born on Friday September 27 at 4:21 am 7 lbs 7 ounces 19 in.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they journey into a new chapter of life.


After several days of being unable to reach Sky Ranch, Kathryn and Andy were able to reach Sky Ranch yesterday and check the status on road conditions. Here is a quick run down:

~ On the way to camp, we drove up 287 to Livermore, 74 to Red Father Lakes, and Boy Scout Road to Highway 14. All of these roads were mostly dry and in good condition (Boy Scout Rd has some severe ruts from water runoff).

~ On Highway 14, between Rustic and the Pingree Park Rd there was a National Guard check point. The road (Pingree Park Rd) was closed to all nonresidents but we were on the list of those allowed through.

~ Pingree Park Rd has numerous areas of significant damage. The damage ranges from water saturated roads that have turned to mud to areas of washout and river erosion. As we drove in, there were numerous resources in the area both assessing the damage and beginning work on short term fixes: Larimer County officials were documenting areas of damage to coordinate with FEMA and federal officials; a Wyoming Hot Shot Crew was working on creating passable lanes through damaged areas.

~ One of the areas of the most significant damage is on the two-mile road, along Tom Bennett campground. There are several channels that have cut into the road from flowing water, the deepest of which is 18″.

~ In general, Pingree Park Rd and the two-mile road are passable with high clearance vehicles, though 4-wheel drive definitely came in handy.

~ Once we arrived at camp, things were in surprisingly good shape. The Showerhouse suffered damage to the ceiling drywall on both the men’s and women’s side and there continues to be standing water on both sides. Otherwise, there doesn’t appear to be any water in any buildings. Additionally, though we were without power for almost 4 days, it appears that fridge and freezer stayed within temperature ranges . . . bags of ice remained in cub form, which is a good sign things didn’t melt. We will have to dispose of much of the perishable food, but are pleased that more wasn’t lost.

~ On the way out of camp, we were allowed to drive down Highway 14. Currently, 14 is open, though vehicles have to travel in groups, with an escort. There is damage to the highway in 3 locations, the worst of which is near Picnic Rock, where one lane has been washed away. Along the way, evidence of significant mud and rock slides are seen the entire length of the canyon.

We were pleased to get into camp and to see how well camp faired. There is a lot of work that will need to be done to the road to make Sky Ranch accessible. We have canceled the programming for the coming weekend and are working with our upcoming groups to make decisions about the coming weekends, though we are excited that we will be able to continue to do programming at camp this fall.

We will post additional information, both about road and about programs as we know more. If you have specific questions, please call our office at 970-493-5258. Thank you to everyone who has called or emailed with concern about Sky Ranch – the love and support of community is transformative.

Our prayers continue to be with those whose need, anxiety, or uncertainty are greater than ours.

– Andy

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Sky Ranch has been very blessed to work with great partners and great partnership organizations as we seek ways to love and serve our neighbors in our Four Winds service learning programs. This past summer, we launched a pilot program in Fort Morgan, Colorado, working closely with Lutheran Church – Our Redeemer, ELCA, as well as OneMorgan County and the local community garden. The program was a great success, with the participants experiencing a uniquely diverse community in Fort Morgan and deeply exploring new pathways of service.

It is with great excitement that we share that Brenda Zion, Executive Director of OneMorgan County, is being recognized by the White House as a Welcoming America Champion of Change. Below is a letter from Brenda announcing the honor and a press release from the White House.

Congratulations goes to Brenda and OneMorgan County. Our deepest thanks goes to her and all of our other partners as we seek out new ways to live the Gospel, together.

– Andy



Dear Friends of OneMorgan County:

It is my great honor and privilege to be able to announce that on Thursday I will be recognized by the White House as a Welcoming America Champion of Change.

According to the attached White House press release, “On Thursday, September 19th, in honor of Citizenship Day and National Welcoming Week, the White House will highlight Brenda Zion as one of ten local heroes who are ‘Champions of Change’ that work tirelessly to effectively integrate immigrants civically, linguistically, and socially into the fabric of their neighborhoods by bringing all residents together to create welcoming communities. The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. “

This installment of the White House’s Champions of Change program is being held in conjunction with Welcoming America’s National Welcoming Week.

According to the attached Welcoming America press release, “The Champions are being honored by the White House during National Welcoming Week, a nationwide event taking place September 15th-22nd with more than 100 events across the country that underscore the contributions of immigrants to local cultural and economic life.   This Thursday, September 19th, the White House will recognize ten individuals and their innovative efforts to lift up newcomer contributions and involve the whole community in supporting successful immigrant integration. “

On Thursday the event will stream live 11 am to 1 pm MST on the White House website  During those two hours my fellow honorees and I will be recognized and will be participating in a moderated panel discussion sharing our perspectives and insights from the field.

A list of all ten Champions and our bios is posted to the White House website at   Each of us also has submitted a blog and I will share a link to the blog section once it is available.  I have attached my blog for your information.

I want to thank OMC’s network, OMC’s community, OMC’s Board of Directors and the people we serve. It is very significant to me to have the honor of traveling to Washington DC and receiving recognition on behalf of immigrant integration in Morgan County, Colorado.  This community is very special to me.  Awards such as this help bring legitimacy to OMC’s efforts.  I appreciate the opportunity to continue to strengthen and unite our community by exhibiting that we all (long-standing residents and newcomers alike) can endeavor to evolve as individuals and as a collective community.  I thoroughly enjoy demonstrating that “OMC’s work is aimed at helping to make the transitions associated with immigration more efficient so that each of us in our many roles, whether we are immigrants or receiving community members, have an increased chance of reaching our highest potential for the betterment of ourselves and for our community.”

Thank you last but not least to the White House and Welcoming America staff for putting forth the effort to recognize this work.  Congratulations to you and my fellow honorees for your extraordinary contributions to our nation.


I will be providing a follow-up email after the event to share additional information.  As always, let me know if you have questions.

With sincere regard,

Brenda Zion
BIA Accredited Representative
Executive Director, OneMorgan County


Flooding In Colorado

[Road damage on Pingree Park Rd between Jack’s Gulch and Fish Creek Trail Head. The road has been closed starting at Jack’s Gulch.]

Colorado and New Mexico continue to be affected by the unprecedented storms that have settled over the Rocky Mountain region since last week. According to the National Weather Service, the Poudre Canyon has received more than 15 inches of rain in the past four days and was expected to receive an additional 1 to 2 inches overnight. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management announced today that 12 additional counties have been added to the September 12, 2013, presidential emergency disaster declaration for the Colorado flooding in Boulder, El Paso and Larimer counties.

Since last Thursday, many front range roads leading into the mountains have been closed including all access roads to Sky Ranch. To comply with evacuation orders and for the safety of everyone, Sky Ranch had to cancel the all camp reunion last weekend. While we are saddened by this situation, we are thankful that no one is currently stranded at Sky Ranch.

According to Army spokesman Major Earl Brown, U.S. National Guard and U.S. Army troops have rescued 1,750 people cut off by washed-out roads in the mountain canyons of Boulder and Larimer counties. Officials estimated Sunday roughly 1,000 people still  need to be evacuated from canyons south and west of Fort Collins. FEMA is bringing in two, 80-person search and rescue teams today to assist with operations. A Type II team arrived yesterday with 50 additional people to help with planning, coordination and resource allocation for all areas of Larimer County.

At this time there is no access to Sky Ranch. The Poudre Canyon and Rist Canyon have received some damage and are closed to the public. The Buckhorn Canyon has extensive road damage and in some areas the road was washed away completely. The Pingree Road is also damaged, Andy and I did try to get up to Sky Ranch yesterday and assess conditions but were thwarted in our efforts. We were finally able to reach the Pingree Road but could only drive a few miles before being stopped by mudslides, rock slides and flooded roads.

We have learned that the camp has been without power since early Friday morning and know we have lost all the food in our refrigerator and freezer. Ironically a Poudre Electric repair truck is also stranded near the camp. After a windstorm that caused major damage to buildings in 2011, a fire, evacuations and bears in 2012, I was hoping that 2013 would be environmentally uneventful.

We ask that you pray for all those Colorado communities that have been devastated and isolated by the flooding. As the weather clears and crews can assess all the damage to roads in our area, we will have a better idea of when we will be able to get back up to Sky Ranch.


Brad Abbott, Executive Director

Due to flooding and severe weather conditions throughout the metro and northern Colorado area the All Camp Reunion will be canceled.  Sorry for the inconvenience and we are keeping those affected by the severe weather and heavy rain fall in our thoughts and prayers.

As of right now we have not discussed re-scheduling the event but will keep you posted if we decide to do so.

-Sky Ranch Staff

A Colorado Fall

Another summer is under our belt and the fall has greeted us with sunshine and rain, more sunshine with cloudy skies 5 minutes later- temps in the 80’s quickly followed by temps in the 60’s and 50’s.  Yes it is typical Colorado fall weather, which makes it wonderful.  Evidence of the falls arrival is seen through the already changing leaves on the aspen and the o so quiet nature of the camp that follows a summer of 800+ campers running through the forest.   Yes fall is upon us and summer has reached its end but incredible ministry is still happening even if in a different way.

To kick off the fall we had Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, CO join us for a weekend of work projects.  These projects included painting the backpack center, stocking the wood shed for the fall/winter as well as revamp the Tutu cabin.  Christ Lutheran Church from Highlands Ranch, CO joined us for a week to continue improvements on the nature center which serves as our staff lounge and living area.   Christ Lutheran has put in many hours and days for the past few years to make the Natch a place for the staff to spend time in community or rest during their time off.

Jeff and Kim Kelty joined us this fall to help clean camp for the winter as well as build a new green house.  This green house was made possible through the WELCA Environmental Stewardship Grant.  The green house (which is much larger in size) will allow a full cabin the opportunity to plant herbs and vegetables and learn how they can be environmental stewards.

There is a lot to look forward to this fall.  We are incredibly thankful for all the churches and volunteers that will join us for work projects and retreats.  Without their help this ministry wouldn’t exist and we wouldn’t have been able to come as far as we have these past few years.   It’s incredible to witness the hard work, dedication and passion so many have for this community.

Also happening this upcoming weekend is our all camp reunion on Sept 13-15.  Everyone is welcome to help celebrate a ministry that has meant a lot to many throughout the past 50 years.  Weekend activities will include hiking, arts & crafts, basketweaving, high & low ropes, several worship opportunities, campfire sing-a-long with s’mores, and guest musician and storyteller Jonathan Rundman.

Register by calling the office at 970-493-5258.  Adult weekend rates, including lodging/meals/programming, are: $115 in the lodge; $105 in a cabin; $90 in the campground. Call for child rates.  Cost for the bus is $45 per adult and $35 per child under 12 with a $150 family maximum. Deadline for bus reservations: : 9/9/13..

A one-day Bus Excursion sponsored by the Thrivent Community- Sky Ranch Network will be Saturday, September 14th. Luxury coach transportation to Sky Ranch is available with several stops along the Front Range. Enjoy lunch and a variety of camp activities including a concert by Jonathan Rundman ( Fun on the bus includes Sky Ranch Trivia with fabulous prizes.

Drive up on your own for lunch and the concert on Saturday for $35/adult and $25/child.