Aspen Camp receives more than $10,000 in donations, pledge of support from Airbnb after vandals strike | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Camp receives more than $10,000 in donations, pledge of support from Airbnb after vandals strike

After breaking into the kitchen and pantry at the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a vandal felt compelled to leave a message that said, "We are not Deaf."

The Aspen Camp School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has received more than $10,000 in donations and priceless amounts of public support after word got out that some of its facilities were vandalized during the X Games.

The nonprofit Aspen Camp also is in talks with Airbnb to recover costs for the damages.

"We've been overwhelmed, in a good way, with the calls, emails and social media messages of community members locally and far away (with) their support," said Katie Murch, marketing and strategic director for the nonprofit organization. "This will definitely help us repair the damages, add security measures and support at least three summer campers' scholarships."

The camp suffered damage to two of its four cabins on Snowmass Creek Road and its commercial kitchen was vandalized last weekend. The kitchen is off limits and locked, but an unknown person or persons gained access through a service window and raided the pantry.

Someone also scrawled, "We are not deaf" on a sign taped to a refrigerator.

The cabins were rented to groups attending the X Games, Murch said. There were 49 people total. It appeared to camp staff that the groups were separate from one another.

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The deaf camp didn't require a damage deposit because it has found over the past year of renting facilities that its occupancy rate was better without the extra fee, Murch said. The cabins are rented when camp is not in session. The cabins are rented through Airbnb, which released a statement this week.

"We take incidents like this extremely seriously and are urgently investigating what happened," the statement said. "We are in touch with our host and are giving them our full support. Additionally, we have reached out to local law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation.

"Our community standards prohibit behavior like this and if a guest violates our policies, we will take action, including suspension or permanent removal from our platform," Airbnb's statement continued.

Airbnb spokesman Jeff Henry pointed out that the company has the Million Dollar Host Guarantee program, where eligible hosts are reimbursed for damages. It is free to all hosts and for "every single booking," the policy says.

Murch said talks with Airbnb continue and they are "still figuring out the details." Nothing has been settled as of Friday morning, she said. The Aspen Camp also is talking to its insurer.

The Pitkin County Sheriff's Office sent a deputy to the camp on Snowmass Creek Road and documented the damage. A status update on the investigation wasn't available Friday.

The Aspen Camp is rushing to fix damage to a doorframe and deep-clean two of the cabins where there was vomit left behind and a pervading smell of smoke. Murch said the person who made the reservation in one of the cabins where repairs and cleaning are necessary has been in contact with the camp.

"We are still unable to pinpoint the person(s) responsible for the common area issues," Murch wrote in an email. "No one has come forward as the person responsible or as witnesses."

The cabins are needed in less than two weeks for a winter camp for deaf children.

"We've been challenged by being understaffed, which we are trying to remedy right now," Murch said. "We have not had much luck with volunteers for manual labor, but a lot of offers from local businesses have come in to help us with security, painting and construction work."

Murch said there has been so much support expressed and inquiries made that the camp is trying to keep people updated via posts on Facebook.

"Overall, the whole situation has taken an emotional and physical toll on our team," Murch said. "We have emotionally broken down a few times but were uplifted by those messages and the donations that came, and still are coming, in. It was a nice reminder that there are good people out there and those true community members do care."

scondon@aspentimes.com