EASTLAND Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The Solid Rock Camp just outside Eastland is no stranger to strangers. Since 2012, they’ve hosted church camps, retreats, and many other outdoor activities and events for folks from all across the state, though their mission changed recently when wildfire flames threatened the towns nearby.
“We said, ‘OK, what resources and things has God given us to use and what is our best effective way to do that?'” says Solid Rock Executive Director Bryan Wilson.
As of March 18, the camp opened its doors and beds to out-of-town first responders who came to help in the firefighting effort.
“Most of the ones that have been staying with us have come from the Metroplex. We’ve averaged about 50 a night. One of our firefighters said to us, ‘This is the first time in several days that I’ve been able to sit at a table and have a hot meal,” Wilson says.
Not only has Solid Rock been able to provide beds for the incoming firefighters and free meals every morning, Wilson says they’ve found a bit of time for recreation.
“When we were waiting on them to come in one night, we were playing a camp game, they hear them playing and laughing and they’re like, ‘You’ve got to show us this game,'” says Wilson.
The Solid Rock college interns were in the middle of a game of “Pool Pig,” a camp game played on a billiards table. Wilson says they taught a few of the first responders to play that night.
“It felt really good not only to give them a meal but some mental reprieve from the devastation they’re facing in the community,” Wilson says.
The grounds are also shared with another group of responders, the Texas Baptist Men (TBM), a state group with a wing devoted to disaster relief. Though as Wilson pointed out, they are not exactly as their name implies.
“Which they laugh about. They’re not all from Texas, they’re not all Baptists, and they’re not all men,” Wilson says.
The TBM have been able to headquarter out of the Solid Rock sanctuary, going out into the communities to help clean up rubble and debris from impacted homes.
“While the cleanup might require different tools and different procedures, the people respond the same way: they’re hurting,” says incident commander Paul Henry.
Through their partnership with Solid Rock, TBM has also set up a laundry service unit, cleaning clothes free of charge for the first responders and families impacted by the fires.
“We hooked them into our system. Families are able to bring their laundry there, get them washed and returned to them,” says Wilson.
All of these services will be available for as long as the need is there, according to Wilson.
“They’re wanting to be a partner and a help in the communit,y it’s just really a blessing to see that from them,” Wilson says.
First responders in need of lodging and families in need of a reliable way to wash their clothes can reach out to Solid Rock at their website or by calling (254) 647-3219.