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Boy Scouts' camping gear stolen

By THOMAS LAKE
Published February 28, 2007


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TRINITY - The boys retreat to the woods about once a month, leaving behind their electronics. They tie timberline hitches and make sparks from flint and steel. They sleep in tents and tell jokes by the firelight.

The Boy Scouts of Troop 177 go camping with equipment they bought themselves. They raised the money through monthly dues, and through hawking popcorn and Christmas wreaths.

On the evening of Feb. 20, the boys held pack inspection in their meeting room at the YMCA on Photonics Drive. They wanted to be prepared for their camping trip to Fort De Soto Park the following weekend, where younger Scouts would learn to build shelter from sticks and palm fronds.

Scoutmaster Rocky Macaluso told them to sit down.

"Guys," he said, "we have some bad news."

The troop stored the camping equipment in a utility trailer in the YMCA's parking lot. Minutes earlier, a troop member had gone to fetch something from the trailer and discovered the padlock missing.

Tents, canopies, camping lanterns, cooking kits, portable stoves.

Gone.

A sheriff's deputy came out. He looked for fingerprints. None. He looked for evidence. None. He called it a burglary.

The camping trip was canceled. The troop won't camp again until it gets new equipment.

The stolen items were worth more than $3,000. Troop committee chairman Larry Guthrie said it could take years to raise the money for replacements.

The boys were stunned, but Scouts pledge to be cheerful. They finished the meeting and went outside for a game of tag.

Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.

Fast Facts:

How to help the troop

Donations toward replacing Troop 177's stolen camping equipment can be made at any Bank of America branch. The account number is 229004726666. For more information, call committee chairman Larry Guthrie at 727 858-4946.

[Last modified February 28, 2007, 00:25:13]


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