Wednesday, February 20, 2008

City Leaves Seven Year Old Behind on Ski Field Trip

Dual income families face a conundrum when it is school vacation time. If they are not going away on vacation that week together, or if the parent is not taking time off to stay at home with the child, and if they don’t have a nanny or grandparents who are willing to babysit nearby, they often will rely on some kind of paid babysitting program for child care. These are run by private entities, non-profit organizations (museums) and town government agencies.

In my area in Connecticut some towns and cities offer various programs through the parks and recreation departments. For a fee the parent can drop off the child for full day programs. They usually call this “vacation camp”. The purpose is babysitting but to get through the day and make it fun they usually focus the program around a sport skill, something recreational (art camp) or they go on a different field trip each day. Some groups frequent museums while others do things like go skiing.

Other times a museum or aquarium will run a full week program, or a private art school will run a full week art class program. Sometimes historical societies will run programs.

Here is a sad tale from New Haven Connecticut. Yesterday a city program’s field trip to go snow tubing at a ski place resulted in a seven year old named Tony, being left behind. The city workers didn’t notice he was missing as they boarded the bus, or when they got off the bus. No one realized a problem existed until the mother arrived at pick up time.

The boy was alone at the ski resort, outside in the cold, unattended for three hours. Three hours.

The WTNH story said this:

Tony says, he came down a hill on the snow-tube and everyone was gone.
"Yeah, and then I saw that the class wasn't there or the bus," Tony said.

Not knowing what to do, he sat outside in the cold for nearly three hours. "I just went to sit on the snow tube and then I was crying."

Another child finally noticed him -- alone and upset -- and he was taken to the office.

"That whole time he was there, two, three hours -- anything could've happened," Amanda said. "He could've broken his leg...or somebody could've stolen him, I didn't know.
I have volunteered at Cub Scout summer day camp three times. The thing I do often is count. I constantly count my Scouts to make sure they are all there. Last year I had 17 Scouts under my supervision and I was a lone adult leader, sometimes with the aid of a Boy Scout, but not always. I counted and counted and counted. Before moving to tne next activity, I counted, while at the activity, I counted, so on and so forth. We also have a sign in and sign out policy at drop off and pick up times. While at camp, there is a buddy system and no child is to go anywhere alone. It is a pretty tight and safe system, it seems to me, and it works.

More quotes:

News Channel 8 was not able to confirm whether a head count was done or not. The city says Parks and Rec is taking this very seriously. They are investigating all this and say that this has never happened before.

Amanda says that what really bothers her is that New Haven Parks and Rec didn't even realize he was missing. And she doesn't believe a head count was done on the bus. After an awful and anxious afternoon -- she says there are just no excuses.

The supervisor says, I'm so sorry, there's nothing I can do but apologize and I can promise it'll never happen again," Amanda noted. "I said, well, it's not gonna happen with my child cause I'm not sending him back there."

I say, it sounds like a good idea, mom, to not return him to that program until they have more solid safety policies in place.

I also think the Woodbury Ski Resort needs more general supervision. A boy sitting on a tube by himself crying for three hours, unnoticed by staff seems nearly impossible to me. It is a good thing that a mother saw him and took him to the ski resort’s office to notify them of the situation. Again, “it takes a village to raise a child” and in that case I mean the nice mother who helped the boy, not the City of New Haven’s paid staff for this school vacation babysitting program.

Article Title: Young Boy Left Behind on Ski Trip
By News Channel 8's Annie Rourke
Published in:
Posted Feb. 19, 2008 10:15 PM

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1 comment:

SilverDill said...

Unfortunately, the fact that no one at the ski resort noticed this child is a reflection on our society as a whole. "I don't want to get involved". I'm willing to bet that someone else saw this child and just didn't do anything. A sad, sad reflection. I am so happy that child was found and is safe. I hope maybe his mother will find a better way of dealing with his school vacations, like staying home herself.