Someone dashed the dream of middle school students hoping to spend summer days kayaking in a Berkeley Boosters PAL program that serves low-income, urban youth.
As police probe who stole a trailer containing kayaks, life jackets and other program essentials from the far north end of Aquatic Park, Berkeley Boosters is appealing for donations so the popular program can continue.
“There are so many kids who benefit from this program,” said program director Sele Uperesa. “All the middle schools in Berkeley participate.”
The theft also hurts those who participate in the free after-school kayaking program during the school year, she said.
Kayaking camp is “one of the core pieces” in the Berkeley Boosters slate, which specializes in getting kids out of the city. Its offerings include two-week mountain biking, backpacking and sailing camps, and a day-long deep sea fishing excursion. The organization makes payment plans and scholarships available; no one is ever turned away for want of tuition.
“With that trailer, we can take the kids anywhere,” Uperesa said. “We can do some habitat exploration, bird watching, pick blueberries.”
Insurance will not cover the kayaks, valued at as much as $2,000 each.
On April 13 the life jackets turned up in an Oakland Dumpster.
The lot is owned by the city of Berkeley and leased to the Berkeley Water Ski Club. The Berkeley Boosters have stored the kayaks in the spot for four years without incident.
Those who wish to donate money can do so through Paypal on the website, or by sending a check to P.O. Box 17, Berkeley, CA 94701.
Those with information about the theft are asked to call the Berkeley Police property crimes division at 510-981-5737.