by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- Upon the Rock just finished its eleventh year of Christian camp, reaching 150 children ranging from third-graders through high schoolers. Another hundred people participated in the ministry during spring and fall work camps and family camp. Campers come from all across the front range of Colorado, from out of state and even from overseas. “We’re excited to be here, because we can impact our local community, too,” Mark Brunner says. “We’ve had kids from La Veta and Walsenburg and their families participate in the camp.” Kimberly Brunner adds, “God makes it possible through donations for a third of the campers to attend on partial scholarships.”
Before Mark and Kim ever met in high school, each had a vision of working with youth in a Christian environment; for Kim it was underprivileged kids, for Mark, a youth camp. After they married, their separate dreams began to mesh, and they incorporated Upon the Rock ministry as a non-profit 501(c)(3) in 1994. Kim, with a masters degree in elementary education, and Mark, a licensed electrician, both gave up their jobs in order to give the ministry their full-time attention.
As they set about trying to find suitable property for a residential youth camp, they looked in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana and Colorado. Although a property in Boulder County seemed ideal, the price was four times what they could afford. Looking a little further, they found a “diamond in the rough” near La Veta, up Indian Creek road, just west of Sulphur Springs. Says Mark, “God worked it out. The views are amazing, and the price was what we could afford.” The seller, who believed in the vision of the camp, carried the note on the 160-acre property. Upon the Rock was able to pay off the property in 2007, just seven years after closing.
About a third of the camp’s counselors were campers from Upon the Rock’s first camp, “Alpha.” They’ve gone through the entire camp experience and are able to return and serve as leaders.
Until the La Veta property is developed and ready for campers, Upon the Rock rents Golden Bell Camp, near Divide. Eventually they will transition everything to La Veta. According to Mark, the next hurdle is to get Huerfano County approval to build the camp buildings. The ministry is currently accepting funds for developing the camp’s water, power and septic.