Pre-pandemic activities at Camp Krem.
(Courtesy Camp Krem)
Recovery & Reopening

‘So mean’: Camp for people with disabilities burglarized months after CZU fires destroyed facilities

The break-in is believed to have occurred around Jan. 19, though the exact date and time are unclear because the property has been vacant for months after the fires.

Camp Krem, a Boulder Creek camp for children and adults with disabilities, had just been in the early stages of rebuilding after the CZU Lightning Complex Fires destroyed its campus in August.

Now, it’s suffered another setback: Amid more fires countywide several days ago, vandals apparently struck, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage and stealing a portable generator worth thousands more.

“It was just mean, so mean,” camp director Christina Krem told Lookout on Thursday.

The break-in is believed to have occurred around Jan. 19, though the exact date and time are unclear because the property has been vacant after the fires, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Ashley Keehn said.

Windows on the camp vans were broken out. Thieves also siphoned gasoline from the vans, stole gas hoses, a portable pool pump and a large generator valued at up to $20,000, Krem said.

The vans, which the camp removed from the property during fire evacuations in August , had recently been moved back to the site. “Really no reason to destroy the only thing we had left,” said Krem, who hopes to use the vans to take campers on field trips after the COVID-19 crisis ebbs.

Initially, the camp reported on Facebook that it had been vandalized and burglarized twice in recent weeks, but it now appears that all the damage happened at one time, with organizers discovering the full extent what happened over time. Either way, “it has really kicked our small non-profit while we were already down, but we won’t let it dampen our spirits,” camp organizers posted on Facebook.

The camp has been hosting virtual programs five days per week to help campers stay connected and engaged during the pandemic, but there is no replacement for the real thing, Krem said.

The camp — which served 804 people of all ages in summer 2019 — had been a place where people with disabilities could “be independent from their families, they can have complete freedom of choice ... develop friendships that they maintain throughout the year,” Krem said.

Its programs also provide a “respite” for parents and caregivers of people with disabilities, who can require intensive, 24-hour care.

“They get to take a break from the daily demands,” Krem said.
The camp was almost completely destroyed during last summer’s fires. And although people in the community have given generously to the recovery effort, it will cost at least $5 million to rebuild the campus, according to Krem.

The recent theft and vandalism will be an added expense, with the camp possibly having to invest in a new security system, she said. Since Camp Krem posted about the break-in on Facebook, it has received more than $2,500 in donations, she said.

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  • Learn more about Camp Krem
    Founded in 1957, Camp Krem provides camping, recreational, educational and respite services to children and adults with developmental disabilities around the year.