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Camp for troubled youth looted

Dawn Witlin

MINTURN ” The young men from the big city came to Colorado to camp out under the stars, learn to trust each other and practice leadership skills.

They returned from four days in the wilderness to find their belongings ransacked and strewn about the rear of a stage at Minturn Middle School.

“It’s just so stupid though, you know,” said Darnell, a camper who lives at Father Kelley’s Home for homeless boys in Chicago. “It was stupid.”



Organizers asked that the campers’ last names not be used.

Darnell said thieves had taken his jewelry, a belt buckle that reads “New York” and his only pair of dress shoes.



The young men were hiking in White River National Forest with Meet the Wilderness, a program that uses outdoor activities to teach troubled kids life skills, leadership and teamwork. While camping, they left their belongings behind at Minturn Middle School.

Brian, a young man who lives at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago, said someone took his phone, portable Play Station, video games and his iPod.

“We were rushing to get back, just to get in and find out about this,” said Brian. “I didn’t believe it … til then Maurice (another camper) came out all pissed off and I was like ‘oh, this is for real.'”



Todd Rainville, a program director for Meet the Wilderness said the theft was shocking.

“It was a major bummer,” said Rainville. “We just apologized and filed a police report.”

Mike Beltracchi, executive director of Meet the Wilderness, said the theft may have occurred Saturday night while an employee of Minturn Middle School had a party for her 15-year-old daughter with a DJ.

“This is something that we just did not expect,” Beltracchi said. “They’re here to learn trust and responsibility. We’re just kinda hoping for someone to step forward and take responsibility and say this is what happened.”

Police said the theft is currently under investigation.

“An itemized list will be drawn up by the victims and a deputy will follow up,” said Patrol Officer Tim Comroe of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 328-8500 or remain anonymous and earn up to $1,000 by calling Eagle County Crime Stoppers at (970) 328-7007 or (800) 972-TIPS.


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