YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh closes swimming at all 22 summer camps

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There are few pairs that belong together as much as swimming and summer camp -- perhaps peanut butter and jelly or french fries and ketchup, but few other combinations can compete.

But for the time being, swimming is not allowed at the 22 camps operated by the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh. Each camp site must be inspected and approved before it can reopen for aquatics.

The YMCA suspended swimming Tuesday at all of its summer day camps after a 6-year-old enrolled in a YMCA camp at Carson Middle School nearly drowned last month on a field trip to the Baierl Family YMCA.

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare notified the YMCA that it needed to shut down the program at Carson after concluding that some of the camp counselors were not equipped for their positions.

Steve Davis, senior vice president of human resources and leadership for the Pittsburgh region, said it was found that some of the counselors were not able to correctly or quickly identify their assigned campers. Those counselors were fired from their camp jobs.

The Carson Middle School counselors were not following requirements outlined by the State Department of Public Welfare.

Counselors should be assigned specific campers to supervise. That did not happen at the school, which is what led to the young child nearly drowning, said Anne Bale, spokeswoman for the department.

The YMCA decided it was necessary to review the supervision at all of its local day camps to ensure appropriate steps are taken to protect children.

Officials will travel to various camp sites in the next few days to conduct internal audits. A few of the sites already received approval to reopen, Mr. Davis said.

He said as part of the inspection, counselors will randomly be asked to identify and locate their campers, as part of the enhanced hands-free visual system now in place. Hands-free refers to counselors not needing a list of names to identify children.

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Jessica Tully: jtully@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1159 and on Twitter: @jessalynn4. First Published July 10, 2013 3:45 PM


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