LITTLETON, Colo. – Summer may not be as fun for the kids at Shiloh Academy in Littleton this year.
That’s because thieves helped themselves to a truckload of outdoor camping gear that was stored in a shed behind the school.
The tents, sleeping bags, fishing rods, backpacks and tackle boxes were used to expose the kids, many of them with emotional or mental health needs, to summer day trips, or end-of-summer camping trips in the mountains.
"Many of our kids haven't been west of C-470," said Program Coordinator Steve Cashman. “Our trips give them a chance to hike, see a waterfall and fish.”
“Every summer, we probably have 20 to 30 kids who catch their first fish ever,” he added. “That’s always a huge reaction for any boy.”
He said previous day trips have included stops at St. Mary’s Glacier and Mount Evans.
Cashman told Denver7 that he came to work Tuesday morning and noticed a bag of fishing reels missing from his office.
He also found the door on the shed, behind the school, left wide open.
When he stepped inside, he noticed everything was in shambles.
“The only things that hadn't been touched,” he said, “were the textbooks.”
He said most of the stolen camping equipment had been donated to the school over the last 15 years.
Good vs. Evil
Cashman and Shiloh's Administrative Officer, Anna Miller, say there is a lot of good in the world.
They say the current remodeling effort, which is taking place during Spring Break, is a good example.
"Our Colorado Gives campaign raised $18,000," Miller said. "The money is being used to re-carpet classrooms, install new windows and to replace plumbing fixtures.
She said several local companies donated time and materials, and that some gave Shiloh steep discounts.
When asked if the building had been left unlocked, during the remodeling work, Miller replied, "No. As far as we know, it was secure."
“I don’t know who, or how they did it,” Cashman said regarding the theft. “I was just very disappointed that they did it to kids.”
"It's devastating," Miller said. "The summer program is just a few weeks away, and we don't have the equipment we need to take kids on those trips."
Investigators from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office are trying to get to the bottom of the case.
Plea for Help
Miller said she hopes more than anything that they can “rebuild this program for our kids.”
She’s asking anyone who plans to replace their camping gear this summer to consider donating their old gear, if it’s still in good condition, to Shiloh.
Anyone who has camping gear they’d like to donate, can take it to Shiloh’s Administrative Office at 6588 W. Ottawa Avenue in (Littleton) Unincorporated Jefferson County, 80128.