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New Hampshire summer camp sends children home after 6 unruly days

“So many things are wrong with this place.”

Camp Quinebarge in Moultonborough, N.H., closed after just six days. Isabella, 11, and Kayden Gove, 8 , both attended camp and had to go home. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Camp Quinebarge sent all of their campers home after an understaffed and disastrous six days forced the camp to shut down, according to The Boston Globe

“We have been in tears, bored, and devastated the whole day,” a camper wrote in a letter home.

The rural overnight camp offers two-week programs for children ages 6 to 16 at the campsite in Moultonborough, N.H. The camp has been in operation for 85 years.

Daily activities include horseback riding, field trips, and arts and crafts. This year, activities were reportedly mixed with dirty dishes, vomiting campers, and a counselor being punched in the face.

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“You have to trust us. You have to,” the Globe said one camper wrote in a letter home. “We are not joking and we are not having fun. So many things are wrong with this place.”

Parents were stunned to receive an email from camp staff telling them to pick up their kids over a week early after a challenging six days finished with a delay from the camp’s food supplier Sysco.

“Shock does not even begin to cover it,” parent Rebecca Grove told the Globe.  She also told CBS Boston there was an “atrocious lack of communication from the directors going on.”

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Camp Quinebarge cancelled all of its upcoming summer sessions until next year. While Grove said she was refunded, other parents said they have not been so far.

The Globe wrote that Eric Carlson, executive director and recent owner of the camp, said the unfortunate ending was not due to long-term issues, but rather a combination of issues, many caused by the pandemic. Carlson has run the camp with his wife, Lesley, since 2012.

This year Carlson reportedly had a particularly hard time hiring staff and was training some members only a few days before camp started.

“I was hired about four days before campers arrived,” said MJ Lowry, a 21-year-old counselor. An email obtained by the Globe said Carlson was looking “to hire 15-20” people during the week of training.

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The Globe also reported that some counselors quit, and others were fired.

One camper also allegedly punched a counselor – giving him a bloody lip – and hit another camper in the head with a wooden block. Carlson told the Globe this camper was sent home after three days.

“Upon reflection, we know that camp is only good for the kids if we can ensure their health and safety,” the Globe said the Carlsons and camp director Nick Hercules wrote in an email. “That is why as soon as we finish our closing work for 2021, we will begin preparing for summer 2022.”

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Read the full story at BostonGlobe.com.

Update: After the Globe published its report, the camp’s owners, Eric Carlson and Lesley Marcus Carlson, pushed back on the story, releasing their lengthy statement in full on Facebook. In it, they acknowledged the staffing and food supplier issues but painted a different picture of the campers’ shortened experience.

“In many ways, the one week of camp this summer resembled any other in our long history: There was a lot of laughing, singing and playing, and the kids loved the non-activity time the most as they were able to just hang out and be kids,” they wrote. “That is what made the decision to cancel the remaining sessions after just a week of camp so heartbreaking. It was a decision not made lightly.”

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“We desperately wanted to make the summer of 2021 a return to normalcy but were ultimately unable to,” they added later. “We immediately notified families that they would be refunded their tuition for the remainder of the summer.”

Dear Parents:I hope this note finds you and your families well. I am writing today about a story that appeared in The…

Posted by Camp Quinebarge on Friday, July 23, 2021
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