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Gillette population expected to jump by almost 55,000 people while hosting religious camping event this summer

A mural at Gillette's downtown 3rd Street Plaza.
(Will Walkey/Wyoming Public Media)
A mural at Gillette's downtown 3rd Street Plaza.

A summer event will make Gillette the largest town in Wyoming for a week. The International Pathfinders Camporee is a youth summer camping event hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It plans to bring around 55,000 people to the town of Gillette.

That amount of people would give Gillette a population of 80,000.That would break single-day attendance records in Wyoming, previously held by Cheyenne Frontier Days with 25,000 people in attendance. Jennifer Toscana, Director of Public Affairs with the City of Gillette, said despite the challenge presented, the city sees a great opportunity to highlight itself on the map.

 “It is an exciting opportunity to showcase our community and show representatives from around the world what we've got to offer here in Gillette,” said Toscana.

Gillette will see campers from around the United States and the world, as international visitors are invited to attend in-person or virtually.

The International Pathfinders Camporee takes place once every five years since 1985. It’s been held in Colorado and Wisconsin in the past, but this will be the first year the Camporee sets up in Wyoming. Additionally, this is expected to be their largest year yet.

According to Jessica Seders, executive director of the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau, this year’s ticket sales already outsold any of the previous year’s sales. For the City of Gillette, that looks like sold out hotels and fully booked campsites.

This however, is what the city was expecting. Preparations and renovations have been underway since a little before 2021, when it was announced that the camporee would be switching from Wisconsin to Gillette.

Townspeople have made their voices heard. The primary concern was the short- and long-term impact to the local area. Residents felt that the environment, both human and natural, was not prepared to handle that many people. All the extra cars on the roads, and all the waste that comes with large events, these could leave problems behind for the residents to deal with. However, the city moved forward with plans since they feel they are capable of handling the influx.

“In response to recognizing that all of the available hotels and campsites in Gillette are sold out for the camper event,” said Toscana “Just this week, our city council approved a resolution that is going to allow our residents to rent out tents, campers, motor homes, and similar facilities on their private property temporarily from July 31st, through August 13th.”

Additionally, the city has been making improvements to its wastewater facility, providing additional resources to their solid waste removal fleet, and coordinating public safety. Gillette’s Police Department will be coordinating with other town’s departments, county sheriffs, and other state officials to ensure public safety during the week-long event.

Toscana suggested residents follow the City of Gillette’s social media accounts to help stay in the loop during the week of the Camporee.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.

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