A picture of the scouts and some of the equipment they say has been stolen. (Courtesy of Boy Scout Troop 127 of Kathleen, Ga.)
Local Boy Scout leaders say they couldn't believe their eyes: Someone stole a trailer full of their camping gear from the church where they meet.
For the last 13 years, Boy Scout Troop 127 has been sponsored by Andrew United Methodist Church in Kathleen, and for as long, they've kept a trailer of their camping supplies around the back. Church leaders kept their own trailer right beside it.
Both were gone Monday evening when the scouts tried to do an inventory before their next trip.
"It took a while to sink in," says Joe Craft, Troop 127 Scoutmaster.
At first, he assumed someone from the church had moved it.
"We expected to find it around the side of another building," Craft says.
Steve Geeker, Troop 127 Committee Chair, says he thinks the thieves used two trucks to get both trailers at the same time.
The theft won't stop Scouts from making this month's scheduled trip to the Appalachian Trail, but Geeker estimates the loss of the trailer and its equipment amounts to about $15,000 the troop doesn't have.
So this weekend, Geeker and others plan to pass out flyers at pawn shops and flea markets, appealing for help.
"The goal is to recover or find one or two items and then backtrack to find everything else," he said.
Some of the younger Scouts don't know yet because the theft wasn't discovered until the end of their meeting. Those who found out were shaken.
"It's just disbelief. How could someone do that?" Craft said of the scouts' response.
Geeker says he's still surprised that someone would "come to a church and take a trailer that's marked with Boy Scout logos."
But even in this rough patch, Craft says he expects the Scouts will learn something valuable.
"It's a leadership challenge for some of the boys," he says. "Now they have to answer, 'What are we going to do next?'"
(An earlier version of this story incorrectly called the church Saint Andrews Methodist. We regret the error.)
Troop127 Theft List