By Lisa Jenson
Sep 13, 2017

18 Hole Golf Tournament to Benefit Fire-Damaged Thunder Ridge Scout Camp

Ken Garff St. George Ford Lincoln and Sun River Golf Club are sponsoring an 18 hole golf tournament at the Bloomington Country Club Thursday, Oct. 19th to benefit  BSAThunder Ridge Scout Camp affected by the Brian Head fire this year. 

Register for the Golf Tournament Here

Purchase one of three packages to participate in the tournament:  

  • Individual Entry Fee $250,
  • Gold Team Package $600 for a team of Four
  • Platinum Team Package $1,000 for a team of Four–includes signage.   

Here are some fun opportunities in addition to the tournament:

  • Four chances to win a car
  • Hole in one challenge on each of four Par 3’s  
  • Chance to win a car on each Par 3
  • Tournament play will be four-man scramble
  • Includes a continental breakfast and lunch

If you would like to donate money to this benefit, but are not interested in sponsoring a golf team, please contact:  David Peterson 435-813-2252 or Scott Brandt 435-673-2029 .  If you need more information on the tournament, contact these individuals as well.

Fire in the Sky at Thunder Ridge Scout Camp

The Brian Head Fire was a human-caused fire that began on June 17, 2017, on lands administered by Brian Head Town, Iron County, in cooperation with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands and grew into a large wildland fire on land administered by the Cedar City Ranger District on the Dixie National Forest.  Driven by steep terrain, low humidity, and erratic winds, the fire spread quickly. In total, the fire burned 71,673 acres of land. The Brian Head Fire is the fourth largest fire in Utah history. 

Fire in the sky above Camp Thunder Ridge

Fire in the sky above Camp Thunder Ridge

On the evening of July 20th, I was asked to go to a fire meeting in Parowan, Utah. That evening we found out that camp was in imminent danger from the fire. The fire was 1.5 miles away from camp, but the northern edge of the fire exhibited extreme and erratic fire behavior. This was due to low humidity and the shift in the winds that day. We were told it was not a matter of if the fire would reach camp that night, but when. The fire management team told us that saving Thunder Ridge Scout Camp was their number two priority after saving the town of Brian Head. I spoke with several fire management team members after the meeting, and the outlook was grim. However, they were confident they’d have firefighters in place to do everything they could to save the camp. Three very large fire retardant drops had already been made around the perimeter of the camp. 

That evening I had barely arrived home when I received a phone call from Ken Carpenter, Parowan City Police Chief and volunteer from Cedar Breaks District. He said, “Lisa the fire has reached camp. It is headed down the hill and I’m not sure what is going to happen.”

I was heartbroken but confident that the firefighters would do all they could to save our beloved camp. 

After dark, I received some video from our Camp Properties Manager, Dave Merrill. It was video taken from inside the camp by the firefighters fighting the blaze. It was amazing to see the fire all around and hear them say, “The archery range; I think we saved it” and “the obstacle course (COPE course) we will not let it burn.”

They literally got trapped in the camp that night and managed to save all the main structures and the core of camp.  It was truly by the grace of God and hard-working firefighters that the main part of camp was saved that night. 

Recovery After the Fire

While the main core of camp was saved from the wrath of the fire, 75-80 percent of the 1,280 acres were burned.  The restoration efforts for the camp are going to be widespread and expensive. Logging of the burned trees and their removal will be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Replanting of grasses, trees and other vegetation will need to take place. Flash flooding and soil erosion will be a concern for the next several years so flood control measures will need to be in place. Road improvement and maintenance will need to be done due to erosion and deterioration from the runoff after the fire. Some program areas and campsites will need rehabilitation.  We will need to rebuild certain areas, such as; our Low Cope Challenge Course, this was man made and not cover by insurance.  Repairs to the water system will need to be done. 

History of Thunder Ridge Scout Camp

Thunder Ridge Scout Camp was only an idea and a vision in the minds of some dedicated Cedar Breaks Scouters back on the evening of August 24, 1968. Morris Shirts became the informal chairman of this group that decided a camp needed to be built in Southern Utah. Over the next several years this same group of Scouters met many times to work out the details of location, property acquisition, overcoming objections, planning a road, acquiring water rights, developing a water system, dealing with sanitation and naming the camp. 



The core committee was composed of Morris Shirts, Alma Lawrence, Garth Green, Kerry Jones, Ross Hilton, Graham Mc Donald, Norman Grimshaw, Stan Shakespeare, Kendall Gurr, Charles Blackburn and Paul Hitchcock. The committee looked at 10 different sites. The final selection was originally called Braffit Scout Camp and was acquired from the BLM under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1954 for 5% of the actual value. The original road was not viable, so when selected as a bicentennial project, the governor involved the Utah National Guard, Companies C and D of the 1457 Engineering Battalion. They completed the project in ten days. $5,000 was a bicentennial grant which was matched by the Utah National Parks Council. If this had been a normal project it would have taken over $500,000 and taken several months. The road was surveyed by engineering students from the local college. There were hundreds of other volunteers who worked on the projects, donating labor, material and equipment. The total actual cost of the camp was less than $20,000, which was mostly donated. The dedication of the camp was held on August 29, 1975. 

Our efforts with this golf tournament are to restore Camp Thunder Ridge to its previous beauty as much as is humanly possible. This camp has a lot of tradition and means a great deal to the people of southern Utah.  It has also been a wilderness camping experience for many others, including those that have traveled to this camp from out of state.  While nature will run its course, we will also need to step in and help to restore the camp.  This restoration will take time, volunteer efforts and monetary support.  Thank you for your support of this golf tournament. 



Author: Lisa S Jensen | District Executive, Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America

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