More than 60 campers, which had been turned away from a Philadelphia swim club because of their race, are being invited back to the facility.
More than 60 campers, which had been turned away from a Philadelphia swim club because of their race, are being invited back to the venue.
CNN.com reports that the decision came this weekend during an emergency meeting of the Valley Club, a private facility that advertises open membership. Club members voted to patch things up with the Creative Steps Day Camp, who’s kids had been turned away from the pool on June 29.
Campers complained of hearing club members ask why so many Black kids had shown up and expressing concern that the kids might steal things or harm other children. Parents think the kids were rejected because of their race since most of the campers are either Black or Latino.
The Valley Club claims they ousted the kids because the pool was understaffed and there weren’t enough lifeguards to watch all of them. It contends that they later cancelled the camp’s contract over crowding and noise concerns. "As long as we can work out safety issues, we’d like to have them back," said Bernice Duesler, the club director’s wife.
However, Althea Wright, the director of Creative Steps, said her campers were “emotionally damaged” by the incident.
"These children are scarred. How can I take those children back there,” she asked. "Are the members who made those comments still there?" Althea’s lawyer said the camp will give the invite “due consideration.”
Since the kids were refused, the club has come under investigation by Pennsylvania’s Human Rights Commission. The facility argues that Creative Steps wasn’t singled out and that it had to cancel contracts for two other day camps.
Overcrowding was the key issue with those organizations too, said the club’s director, John Duesler. He said that he underestimated how many kids would be coming to the pool. But according to e-mails, the club had ok’d a 10-to-1 ratio and was thinking of adding three lifeguards to accommodate that.
For now, the club is trying to figure out how it will reach out to Creative Steps and the other day camps
– Sonya Eskridge
Black kids banned from pool