First published in the Feb. 10 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
In response to the drowning death of 6-year-old Roxie Forbes at a Los Angeles County summer camp, as well as traumatic incidents at children’s camps statewide, state Assemblyman Chris Holden introduced Assembly Bill 1737, a measure that establishes health and safety standards to protect millions of child campers and counselors.
“When parents take their children to day camps throughout the year, it is under the assumption that they will be protected, make friends and return home safely afterward,” said Holden. “We want to give parents and guardians a peace of mind to ensure they know their child is secure in California.”
The assembly bill would clarify that day and overnight camps attended by children are subject to California Department of Public Health regulations and specifically outline the obligations of CDPH, local agencies and children’s camps prior to and during operation of the children’s camps. The bill would also require children’s camps to include in their operating plan submitted to their local agency normal operation procedures, security and emergency procedures, health and safety policies, and indicate whether the camp offers any high-risk activities, such as swimming and horseback riding.
In response to the death of their daughter, Doug Forbes and his wife Elena launched Meow Meow Foundation, the nation’s only camp safety nonprofit. They successfully established new camp safety and drowning prevention laws in Los Angeles County and worked with legislators and health and safety experts throughout the United States to establish measures that would protect millions of children at camps from harm.
“The camp responsible for my daughter’s death remained open the entire day she died and every day thereafter,” said Roxie’s father, Doug Forbes. “Camp owners emailed thousands of parents telling them they wanted ‘to keep the day as normal as possible,’ and they prevented those parents from picking up their traumatized children. I contacted Assemblyman Holden because nothing is normal about affording camps the latitude to inflict such harm without accountability. I will stop at nothing to keep children and parents from similar suffering.”
“Children should not worry about their own safety, it is the responsibility of the adults providing supervision while their parent or guardians are at work,” said Holden.