Fire Destroys Camp Sweeney Building; Donations Needed - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Fire Destroys Camp Sweeney Building; Donations Needed

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 WHITESBORO, TX -- The fire started Sunday afternoon. No one was hurt, and camp is over for the summer, but it will be rebuilding all year to get back what was lost.

It's the last day for kids and counselors at Camp Sweeney. But as goodbyes are said and things are packed up in this building, just a few hundred yards away -- rebuilding is just beginning -- after a three alarm fire destroyed it.

"We had about a half million dollars in damage and insurance is only going to cover about a quarter of that." 

It's just a slab now, but it had nineteen washers and driers, an arts and crafts room and jet skis andat'ss -- all gone in a matter of minutes -- even destroying counselor's cars.  

"We are actively starting a capital campaign to rebuild that facility before next summer," said Preston Walhood, program director. 

Staffers doing laundry immediately called 911, but it burned so hot that it went through parts of this foundation, leaving behind only rock and ash.

'In the sixty five years that the camp has been around, we've never had a fire at the facility so it was definitely a shock that it happened," Walhood said.

The camp is the only in the world to offer an escape to kids with type one diabetes. Giving them a support system and bonding experience many can't find anywhere else. Former camper and now counselor Carsen Rusell has been here just about every summer since since her diagnosis at age eleven.

"It completely changed my life," she said. "It made me who i am today and also taught me how to take care of myself and live a healthy lifestyle."

Both Russell and Walhood say the camp is resilient -- and what the fire burned down -- doesn't change the uplifting message of the camp.

"I'm still in contact with all those people I went to camp with as a camper," Russell said. "I would call them when times got rough, so we still get together. We are family."

Camp Sweeney is setting up a spot on it's website for donations at www.campsweeney.org They will also hold an arts and crafts drive this spring to re-gain some of those lost supplies.