There are many wonderful people who live in the area of the Bills Creek Community Center. Some of these people also own family businesses in the area.
This is a story of one such family business. Boon Life Adventure. In February of 2021 Stu and Dee Senter purchased 86 acres of land on Bills Mountain. Much of the property had been logged so it was a perfect place to set up a family business that allowed them to provide ATV and UTV tours. Their goal was to create a group activity that would bring people together. A place where everyone, regardless of age or any other circumstances, would feel welcomed and rejuvenated. They would try to make sure all their guests had a safe but exciting day. The business was run as a family. Mom and Dad and their 3 children all were involved in the planning and the business operations.
In August of 2021 I got to go on the ATV tour. What a thrilling experience. The views on the trails are breathtaking. There were times I looked at some of the steep trails and thought to myself “there ain’t no way” but the battery powered ATV glided up and down the hills. At the end of the 2 hours we were dirty, sweaty, (it was August) and we were talking about when we could go again. It was a great time! The word that Boon Life Adventures offered young and old a unique and thrilling experience was spreading. The business was growing. More and larger groups were booking tours. On the evening of October 20th the family was reviewing the ride board for the next day. October 21st was to be a big day for the new family business, 32 guests had signed up for tours. A little before 9 PM, there was a massive boom that came from the garage built below the house. The explosion rocked the whole house. One of the lithium batteries that powered the ATV’s had exploded.
The heat generated from a lithium battery explosion generates a heat blast over 3200 degrees. When the first battery exploded the heat of that explosion caused a chain reaction of destruction which engulfed all the other ATV’S and UTV’s on site. It took less than four minutes for the flames to engulf the home. In less than four minutes the family lost their home, their business and all their belongings. What they did not lose was each other. It was a miracle that the family and all the family pets were able to get out unharmed. They all ran out into the cold October night without shoes without coats but with each other.
As tragic as that night was, the Senter Family would soon find out there was another side to this horrible event. While the fire was still burning neighbors brought over shoes and coats for the family to wear. They were invited to stay with a neighbor that night and in the days to follow carloads of clothes and supplies were donated.
Within a couple of days, several people who had spare homes offered the homes to the family. The beauty and grace of the people in our area quickly shined a light through the cataclysmic darkness that was engulfing the Senter family.
The Family had a decision to make. Will we stay in the area? Will we continue the business? Was this God’s way of saying no?
The Senters are a very close knit family and they are a very spiritual family. After personal prayers for guidance and group discussions the family, Stu, Dee, Anna, Zach and Josh, all came to a unanimous agreement. As a family they decided to continue their mission of a Christ centered, ADA friendly, group and family oriented activity. They would reopen Boon Life Adventures and after the love and kindness area people had shown, they would reopen and rebuild in the same area.
The rebuilding was a slow process. The Insurance Companies were very slow to move and to settle the claim. Once they did settle some would not rewrite coverage. The cost of the new insurance to cover the ATV’s went up over 500% compared to the old policy. Quality, gas-powered, ATV’s were also very hard to come by. Little by little the Family overcame obstacles and in April of this year they took out the first guests. Boon Life adventure can now accommodate groups up to 12 people. Additional ATV’s are on order that will take groups up to 27 people. In addition to the ATV/UTV tours Boon Life will soon have the area’s first outdoor escape room. The escape room should be open by the Summer. Longer term plans will include a remote control vehicle track for people to enjoy.
The Senter family reminds me of a quote by the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche once stated “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. This quote is meant to be used as an affirmation of resilience. Despite the emotional and financial wounds suffered by the family, they have, hand in hand, rebuilt and are stronger today than yesterday.
For more information on the Bills Creek Community Center please see our webpage https://www.billscreekcommunitycenter.com