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Local Scoutmaster frustrated after $7K worth of equipment stolen

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Posted at 8:57 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 13:10:26-04

One local Boy Scouts of America Scoutmaster is devastated after a trailer full of his troop's equipment was stolen Sunday.

"I wanna give up," said Robert Mealer of Troop No. 183 based out of Asbury Park Methodist Church. "I don’t want to be in society no more. I just wanna stay in my house and not even worry about it no more because I’m just tired of everything."

The trailer was recovered Monday, but Mealer said all of its contents are gone, including new Kodiak-brand tents, which cost between $550 and $700, large griddles on wheels which could fit 20 pancakes at a time, and other various cooking and camping equipment. All in all, Mealer estimates about $7,000 worth of equipment was taken.

"Without that trailer, we can’t go camping, without the proper equipment, nothing to sleep in," he said. "The troop furnishes all the gear for them to be able to go camping and enjoy."

The theft hit Mealer so hard, partly because he said his troop -- 10 boys and five girls -- worked for a full year to raise money to replace the old, hand-me-down equipment they had been using.

"These kids worked their butts off to buy this new equipment and now it’s gone," he said. "So I’ve still gotta tell my kids we can’t go camping no more because everything was stolen. So, put yourself in my shoes and try to tell 10 boys and five that we can’t do it no more."

Some of the equipment taken, Mealer said, helps him teach the kids how to get back to basics, such as cooking with their cast-iron Dutch oven over an open fire.

"A lot of stuff that we get back to the basics on, being able to teach the kids how to be sustainable out in a camping area where you can cook on open fires and stuff," he said. "There was a lot of stuff taken from that trailer."

But he said it's very frustrating that someone would do this to children.

"The way society is right now, we don’t need people stealing from kids," he said. "We’re supposed to be setting an example, and the only example that’s setting is that just ‘cause you work hard for it doesn’t mean it’s yours, and that’s just wrong. We need to have a little more consideration for our youth."

Another troop has set up a GoFundMe account in order to help Mealer's troop try and replace what they've lost. Mealer said he also can be contacted at (361) 533-1792.