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Parents in Dundalk upset about late notice of summer camp closing

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jun 28, 2024

DUNDALK, Md. — The Sky is the Limit, its the name of the theater program in Dundalk, which has been operating a youth summer camp every year for the last 35 years.

Many people were looking forward to watching their children perform Willy Wonka, and the children were even more thrilled.

“I was like so excited for summer camp. Like I was really excited," says Riley Phillips, who participates in the summer camp.

Things changed when their parents got an email from Baltimore County’s Department of Parks and Rec, that the summer camp is canceled.

“It's very frustrating to not know what is going on, especially when something is canceled a week before it’s supposed to happen," says Andrew Heisler, a former camp participant.

The theater program is open to all kids under 13, even kids with special needs.

Jeff Phillips has a daughter with autism and he says it was tough having to break the news.

“I didn’t even want to tell her. I was like, I don’t even know how to tell her and she was like 'well wait till I get home and we’ll break it to her,' and she was just, its hard to really describe how upset she was," says Phillips.

His daughter says it still hurts her and the other children to think about it.

“We are now like heartbroken, really heartbroken. It really breaks my heart, like, I was really looking forward to it," says Riley Phillips.

Parents say they were told the camp was closed because of staffing shortages, but they say they don’t believe it.

They say they think there is another reason the department canceled the camp.

“After talking to a few people, we started to figure out that okay, maybe there is something else going on here that they are not telling us," says Phillips.

WMAR reached out to the department to find out why the camp was canceled. The department sent a statement that said in part:

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, this year’s sky is the limit theater summer program camp has unfortunately been canceled. the department sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused families. And all families have been contacted and offered options such as registration transfers, help with identifying alternative camp prospects – including scholarships to help offset cost differences – and full refunds.”
Erica Palmisano, Press Secretary,Office of Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski

Parents say the other camps are not theater camps and may not be open to all of the children.

Jackson Ruth, who has been involved in the camp for two years, says he did not have a back up plan for summer.

“Now there is no place for me to really do anything for the summer and express myself," says Ruth.

Each parent paid over $300 for their children to participate.

They have gotten the money back, but now some parents say they have no child care options for their children for the next five weeks since they got such a late notice.

Parents are now hoping for clarity and that the issues the department is having doesn’t impact the fall and spring theater programs as well.