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Stolen outdoor school trailer recovered


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    Missoula, Montana (Missoulian) — Two Missoulians found a stolen cargo trailer and some of the equipment belonging to Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures over the weekend.

Porter Hammitt, program director and lead instructor for the children’s adventure camp, reported the trailer missing to the Missoula Police Department on Feb. 1. On Saturday, someone called and told him they found some of the program’s life jackets and helmets. On Sunday, another person called him and told him they saw his trailer.

Many of the more expensive items, such as the program’s rafts and some climbing equipment, are still missing and weren’t in the trailer when Hammitt got it back. But, he said he’s grateful to the community for helping him during an “emotional rollercoaster.”

“The outcome is just this beautiful outpouring of love and support,” Hammitt said.

Hammitt began the adventure camp more than 20 years ago. While some of the equipment in the trailer was insured, he said it was hard to accept losing rafts and gear he’d accumulated over the last two decades.

After he reported the trailer missing to police, Hammitt began trying to recover the items on his own. He reached out to local pawn shops and posted about the missing trailer on social media.

On Saturday, Robert Cummins was on his acreage near the Missoula International Airport when he came across a pile of helmets and life jackets. All the equipment had “MOLA” written on it with the program’s phone number. Cummins was glad to get the gear back to Hammitt and said he thought anyone who came across the items would have done the same. He took another walk through the area Monday, but didn’t see any more equipment.

On Sunday, another person called Hammitt and said they’d seen the trailer near Fort Fizzle in Lolo. Whoever took the trailer had removed the license plates, torn off a small wooden utility box on the front and tried to scrape off two Harley-Davidson stickers on its sides.

“They only managed to scrape off one and must have thought it was too much work and gave up,” Hammitt said. “Some small satisfaction in that.”

Still missing are two 14-foot red Saturn Rafts; two 13-foot blue NRS rafts; three blue and two red Tributary Tomcat inflatable kayaks; two CampChef cook stoves; and climbing gear as well as other boating accessories.

Hammitt is still hopeful more of the gear will be recovered. He said he’s amazed by the help already received from people who heard about what happened.

“As soon as word got out, there was an outpouring of concern and support from people who I don’t even know,” Hammitt said. “Again I can’t thank everybody enough for the help and I hope everybody will have a chance to feel the support of the Missoula community behind you.”

Hammitt decided to start a GoFundMe page to try to recoup some of the cost of the gear in case it isn’t recovered. However, if it is, any money raised will be used to fund scholarships for kids who want to attend the camp in the future.

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