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Kids weight loss camp that closed has history of violations

July 16, 2021 GMT

KENT, Conn. (AP) — A children’s weight loss camp, which closed this week amid a state investigation into the safety of campers, has had a history of regulatory violations, state records show.

Camp Shane shut down its Connecticut location at the South Kent School on Tuesday after its operator said it could not adequately staff the facility. The group has operated similar camps across the country.

The state Office of Early Childhood and the state Department of Children and Families put out a joint statement that same day confirming the state had launched an investigation “due to concerns about health, safety and well-being of children enrolled at the summer youth camp.”

Camp Shane is among 417 camps in the state licensed by the Office of Early Childhood.

State records show that inspections conducted in 2019, when the camp was located in Pomfret, found 62 violations, including a failure to file plans for operating a youth camp, the improper medical training of staff and the improper distribution of medicine.

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Owner David Ettenberg told Hearst Connecticut Media on Thursday that any violations were minor. Messages seeking comment from Ettenberg Friday were not immediately returned.

He told NBC Connecticut that he closed the camp this week after he could not find replacements for several staff members who quit because of COVID-19 protocols that required them to stay on campus.

Parents told the television station that there were serious problems at the camp, including stolen medications and the improper monitoring of medical conditions.

“You pick a medically supervised camp for all of these reasons to know that they’re safe and monitored and yet they weren’t from day one,” said Pamela Artigas, of Vero Beach, Florida, who had a 14-year-old daughter at the camp. “They weren’t.”

Ettenberg confirmed that a child was injured at the camp last weekend when a goal post at an athletic field fell on her. But he said there were four staff members nearby and the staff shortage did not create a safety issue.

“They were missing activities, yes, but they were always, always, always safe and really not until the last bunch of days the kids were happy,” Ettenberg told the television station.