FT. LARAMIE – Nestled into the countryside of Goshen County near Ft. Laramie sits a kid’s summertime paradise.
Haven on the Rock is undergoing big changes this year with several new staff members as well as some familiar faces in new positions.
Haven’s new Executive Director Karisa Bennett began working with the camp, which offers a “Christ-centered Camping Experience,” in 2010.
Bennett and her husband Zach were part of the merge between two other camps – Adventures in Christian Kamping and Rim Rock – to form Haven.
Bennett said the two camps were both paying insurance and being ran by individuals who were looking to step back a bit and the merge in 2012 allowed them all a win.
At the time of the merge into Haven, Bennett said she became the Program Director and Zach the Facility Coordinator.
Bennett said the Executive Director position was opening up recently, so she applied.
“It was just a natural fit because I’ve been with both camps before and then there through the merge. This will be our eleventh season out here,” Bennett said.
The camp plays a huge role in all of the Bennett’s lives.
“We’ve raised our family out here, we have three kids that come every summer,” Bennett said. “It’s definitely a family affair.”
On site the campers are able to get involved with many different activities on the 100 or so acre property including camping facilities designed as an Old West town, a farm that will have a variety of animals and trail rides.
The majority of campers come from the Casper area and Bennett said when they have campers who didn’t grow up in the country, they get the opportunity to teach the kids about the outdoors.
Bennett said they also have to watch out for risks to the campers in that situation as well.
All safety precautions are taken to ensure the safety of the kids while they are hiking, zip lining, doing archery, trail riding or throwing tomahawks.
Bennett said they have to make sure that the kids going hiking take care and watch for snakes, but they have been lucky thus far.
“A few years ago when all of the tornadoes hit, we had campers, and everyone took shelter, and it was like there was this bubble over Haven just protecting us from the weather,” Bennett said, “And it was scary to kind of watch it all happen but nothing was on top of us. And nothing came near us and that’s a cool story to tell of God’s provisions and protection up here.”
The Bennett’s have poured their hearts and souls into the program and Bennett said her kids, Daniel, Hope and David, love being able to make so many new friends every summer.
“I don’t want to do a lot of change in the beginning just because I’ve been a part f it for so long. I’m excited to have fresh blood come in for programming – somebody new – I feel like I did all that I could in that position,” Bennett said.
Bennett said a huge focus of this coming season is focusing the kids to make “every moment intentional.”
The camp is undergoing some physical changes as well as staff.
Bennett said they have desperately needed new bathroom facilities and said the cadets at the Wyoming Cowboy ChalleNGe Academy have been a huge help by hauling around supplies for the project.
The camp has a lot of volunteer-based involvement because it runs off of the registration fees of campers and other churches and organizations that want to help.
Bennett said they offer scholarships and do what they can for every kid who is interested in spending time at the camp. They operate under the concept that no kid should be turned away from the experience just because they can’t afford it.