Thousands of Iowa kids will spend time at youth camps this summer and in light of the tragedy last week in western Iowa, many parents have questions about how camp organizers are prepared for severe weather. A tornado struck a Boy Scouts gathering at Little Sioux Scout Ranch one week ago today – killing four teenagers and injuring more than 40 other people.
John Roosa is camp manager at the Iowa 4-H Center near Madrid in Boone County. The center, situated on 1,100 acres of land, is one of largest youth camp sites in the state and hosts hundreds of children from June through August. Roosa says counselors are trained what to do with the kids if storms are on the way.
"In the event of severe thunderstorms, (the children) are confined to their cabins so they’re not outside," Roosa said. "And in the event of tornado warnings, then they go to a central lodge that’s in their village." The 4-H camp does not have a storm shelter.
Roosa says there’s no basement in the lodges, so in the event of severe weather, the children are taken to the inner most part of the lodge – the shower area – which is surrounded by concrete walls. Nearly 800 children will attend a Catholic Youth Camp this summer at the St. Thomas More Center in Panora.
Des Moines Catholic Diocese spokesperson Anne Cox says a storm shelter on the camp was dedicated last year. "I know they’ve had the kids (in the storm shelter) at least once this season because of severe weather," Cox said. Iowans that camp at state parks are advised to take cover during severe weather in concrete shower rooms or bathrooms.