By Stefanie Donahue
Just days after staff with Lions Camp Horizon put the finishing touches on a $90,000 project to replace a slew of Cold War-era kitchen appliances, vandals broke in and caused $10,000 in damage. And it’s not the first time, staff say.
Two incidents took place over the last several weeks, said Camp Horizon Foundation president Jan Polen. Each time, vandals broke into the on-site dining hall and discharged fire extinguishers, leaving a thick layer of chemical dust on the floor, furniture and appliances.
“It was a real shock,” she said. “It was just pure vandalism.”
In just a matter of weeks, Lions Camp Horizon will open its doors to hundreds of summer campers from throughout the Puget Sound. The camp serves individuals with developmental disabilities and is located at the site of the former Blaine Air Force base in Birch Bay. Polen said despite the damage, the camp will start on time.
The first incident took place at the beginning of April, Polen said. It resulted in little to no damage because the kitchen upgrade project had just started and most items in the dining hall were covered in protective plastic. The second time around was a different story. Vandals broke in sometime between May 7 and 8, just days after the kitchen upgrade was completed, leaving all the newly installed appliances covered in dust.
“It kind of went everywhere,” she said. “It’s a lot of cleanup.”
Aside from the having to clean up the dining hall, staff with Lions Camp Horizon feel lucky that nothing was stolen. Insurance will cover most of the damage, with the exception of a $500 deductible that will be covered with money left over from the kitchen upgrade, Polen said.
The incident was a wakeup call for staff, who are in the process of beefing up security at the site, which was without a video or alarm security system before the incidents. All it took was the snap of a lock on the dining hall front door for vandals to get in, Polen said.
“Other than committing crimes, the individuals responsible for this vandalism ultimately hurt the special needs community we are trying to support with our programs,” said vice president of facilities Don Webster. “If you know who is committing these crimes, please get them to stop or call the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. If we catch them, we will press charges.”
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating both incidents. Anyone who has information about these incidents are asked to call 360/778-6600. To learn more about Lions Camp Horizon, visit lionscamphorizon.org.