Aspen Camp for the Deaf ransacked by renters during X Games | VailDaily.com

Aspen Camp for the Deaf ransacked by renters during X Games

Scott Condon
scondon@aspentimes.com

The Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is scrambling to raise donations to repair and deep-clean two cabins and restock its pantry after renters in town for the Winter X Games ransacked facilities last weekend.

The renters cracked a door frame, left trails of vomit in two cabins and broke into the commercial kitchen of the camp's facilities tucked in a secluded spot along Snowmass Creek Road, according to Katie Murch, the nonprofit organization's marketing and strategic director.

To add insult to injury, someone scrawled "We are not Deaf" on a sign posted on a refrigerator in the kitchen, Murch said.

"What was the point of saying that?" she asked, adding the act shows the highest level of disrespect.

The camp is a nonprofit on a shoestring budget, so it hopes to raise at least $4,000 for the repairs, cleaning and food purchases. Time is of the essence because winter camp for deaf and hard of hearing children begins in two weeks. Any funds raised beyond the $4,000 will go into the camp's scholarship fund, Murch said.

Meanwhile, the camp has made a direct appeal to representatives of the 49 people who stayed in the four cabins to set things right and pay for the damage, cleaning and food replacement, Murch said. So far there hasn't been any reply.

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The camp has contacted Airbnb about the incident because the cabins were rented through the direct rental service. Murch said the vandalism by the renters was also reported to the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, which took a report.

"We've been renting through Airbnb for about a year and never had this happen before," Murch said.

The camp's cabins aren't always in use, so it rents them out to raise funds for scholarships and operations. The cabins provide an affordable option for young adults, ski bums and families on a budget, she said.

The camp has learned over that year it could boost its occupancy by lowering the damage deposit. That level of trust backfired for the X Games guests.

Each of the four cabins was rented under a different name, she said. They were rented by young adults from the Denver-Boulder area, but camp staff doesn't believe it was one big group.

Two of the four cabins received damage or require deep-cleaning because of the vomit, sticky floors and smoky smell pervading everything, Murch said.

The renters had access to a common room where they can use a toaster oven, microwave and other kitchen appliances. The common room is separated from a commercial kitchen by a wall and locked door. The renters gained access to the kitchen and food pantry through a service window, Murch said. They obviously checked out various containers of food, she said.

In probably the most bizarre discovery for the staff, someone opened the wrapping on a very large collection of sliced pepperoni. Only a few pieces of the spiced meat were taken and the rest was discarded. There were signs that other food containers were opened as well, Murch said, so the camp cannot take chances that it was contaminated. Any food that was accessible will be replaced.

The Aspen Camp posted a Facebook message on Monday that it needed donations to offset the damage.

"We knew we would have a wild bunch for the recent X Games in Aspen," the post said. "We didn't realize the extent they would disrespect our campus."

Forty-two people donated as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, raising $2,115. Scores of people sent messages of support to the camp.

Murch said the incident will force the camp to be more careful in who it rents to and the terms, but the rentals have been successful prior to this incident and will continue.

"It really, really does help us out," Murch said.

For more information about the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, go to http://www.aspencamp.org and to make a donation go to http://www.aspencamp.org/donate.