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More like bummer camp

Marketplace Staff Jul 25, 2007

More like bummer camp

Marketplace Staff Jul 25, 2007


Doug Krizner: Summer camps are in full swing. You may have nostalgic memories of your camping days, but what you remember and kids today experience are very different.

Now, it’s not only the campers who have to follow the rules, it’s the camps. From WBUR in Boston, Monica Brady-Myerov reports.

Monica Brady-Myerov: Camp Young Judea, in the woody pines of southern New Hampshire, offers everything from volleyball to archery for more than 300 boys and girls. But what this sleep-away camp doesn’t have is something else you might associate with summer camp: a campfire.

Ken Kornreich: We have a traditional area… We don’t do a lot of campfires any more.

Ken Kornreich is the owner and director.

Ken Kornreich: You have to permit them. It’s windy — we live in an area here, as you saw when we walked… Everything is pine needles. If it’s dry or windy, can’t do it.

A number of camps in New England have cut back on fires because of permit problems. Also, camps are facing rising insurance rates. Some camps are paying twice as much for insurance as they were five years ago.

Marci Kornreich: I don’t think it’s changed the fun of camp, but it’s definitely changed the way we do things here.

Ken’s wife and camp assistant director Marci Kornreich.

Marci Kornreich: I remember when I was a camper here at night. If you were bad — if you didn’t listen to the counselors who were on duty — they would make you stand under the lights and let the mosquitoes bite you. And if you did that today, you’d be facing a lawsuit.

And angry calls from parents, says Bette Bussel, head of the New England chapter of the American Camp Association.

Bette Bussel: Certainly camps are developing risk-management plans to look at all the activities that they do. It doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily do them.

But insurance companies have forced many changes in camps, such as Camp Sewataro, a day camp in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

Owner Mark Taylor says their insurance has tripled in the past 10 years, even though they haven’t filed a claim in 48 years.

Mark Taylor: We had riflery — that had to be taken out. And there was a ropes course that was taken down… They didn’t demand we take it down, but pressure was applied to have us remove it.

What else won’t you find today? Counselors say they are told to stop wedgies, pranks, wet towel snapping and wrestling on bunk beds. It’s no surprise camps are trying to reduce risk during free time, that’s when most accidents happen.

In Boston, I’m Monica Brady-Myerov for Marketplace.

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