Derry Township severs ties with camp contractor after alleged abuse of campers

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DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) – A summer camp in Dauphin County was cut short after some say discipline from the camp supervisors went too far. 

“Apparently the kids were told to shut up repeatedly. There was also a lot of profanity used,” said Karen Wall.

Wall sent her kids to day camp in Derry Township during the last week of July, expecting them to learn and play a variety of sports. But instead, she was told that campers played the silent game.

“One of the punishments was they were put in a porta john or a porta-potty and locked in there and other children were instructed to rock them back and forth in the porta-potty,” Wall said.

Wall reported the incidents to the Derry Township Parks and Recreation Department.

“I spoke to the assistant director. I also spoke to the director,” Wall said. “They both went immediately over to the park that afternoon to investigate the situation and interview both of the counselors that were there.”

Despite the counselors denying the allegations at first, the next day, the camp was canceled.

“I think we all know our kids aren’t perfect but when they give you such detailed reports about kids being treated inappropriately, that it’s really important to take those allegations seriously,” Wall said.

The counselors were hired by a third-party vendor that ran the camp. Parks and Recreation Director Matt Mandia says they’ve worked with that vendor for 10 years. But after this incident, the contract with them was severed.

“These were really young kids that were involved,” Wall said. “And I just felt that the parents needed to be aware of what was going on because I knew that there were dozens of kids attending this particular camp.”

“We set a very high standard in Derry Township in our recreational programming and that type of behavior is not acceptable,” Mandia said.

No criminal charges are being filed.

All families who signed up for the camp were refunded.

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