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Summer camp spots go to nearly 1,000 children

Camp Connect is an extended summer camp programme (Image from www.sportsandrec.bm)

In-demand summer day camp places sold out inside ten minutes, the Government said last night, with more than double the number of children accommodated compared with last year.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport revealed that 985 young people were signed up to programmes compared with 490 in 2023.

Its announcement came after frustrated parents commented online about the registration process, complaining that the website malfunctioned as they tried to secure spots on Monday morning.

The Camp Connect hub was allocated an additional $500,000 this year and a dedicated registration website provided families with information.

It was hoped that the increased funding would alleviate the stress of finding affordable summer camps by expanding availability and working with private camp operators.

A government statement last night said: “This impressive increase of 495 additional children highlights our commitment to providing enriching summer programmes and supporting Bermuda’s families.

“Furthermore, the wait list has been reduced dramatically, with 346 children on the wait list this year, down from 511 children last year.

“This reduction of 165 children demonstrates our efforts to make summer camps more accessible and ensure that fewer children are left without a spot.”

The statement said camps sold out in five to ten minutes this year, “an improvement from all camps selling out in ten minutes last year”.

On website performance, it added: “21,309 page views were recorded without any crashes, ensuring a smoother registration process for all users.”

Owen Darrell, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said: “The significant increase in registrations and the reduction in the wait list are clear indicators of our dedication to expanding access and meeting the needs of our community.

“We understand the importance of these programmes for our children’s development and the relief they provide for parents during the summer months.

“Our team has worked tirelessly to improve the system.”

He added: "While we are proud of these achievements, we acknowledge that some parents experienced difficulties during the registration process.

“This year marked the first time we included private camps in our registration system, which allowed us to vastly expand the number of available slots.

“However, this also introduced some unforeseen issues that we have been addressing promptly.”

One parent complained that when they tried to secure space at a camp, the name of another camp in a different location appeared on the registration page.

The problem appeared to have been rectified but yet another camp location was listed on a confirmation e-mail received later, leading to further confusion.

Parents with multiple children said it was too time-consuming to register and that the window of opportunity closed before they could complete the online form.

Others complained that the camps did not run over the entire summer break.

A parent commented on social media: “It was nearly impossible to sign up one child, let alone multiple and very few of the camps had a duration to September 6, leaving parents still looking for somewhere to send kids in August.

“I personally would have preferred that budget to go to extending the existing camps so they can operate until end of August/September.”

One camp operator also encountered problems with the system.

She commented online: “My section had a few errors. All my weeks were not listed even though it said July 1 to August 16, so parents were forced to pick other camps.”

The Government addressed concerns last night in its statement, which said: “Some parents encountered issues such as incorrect camp names and locations.

“These errors were due to information being entered into the system incorrectly and were rectified as soon as they were identified.

“E-mails were sent to all affected parents to confirm the correct camp locations.”

The statement said that despite a high volume of traffic on the registration website, it "performed well overall“.

It added: “However, we acknowledge that some users may have experienced errors due to various factors.

“We are continually working to improve our systems to prevent such issues in the future.”

On the waiting list and extra placements, the statement said: “We are reviewing applications and will pull from the wait list in the order of submission if spaces become available.

“While we cannot guarantee additional placements, we are committed to maximising our resources to accommodate as many children as possible.”

Mr Darrell said in a press conference last week that the portal would be “user-friendly” and “interactive".

He also predicted then: “The wait list should be reduced by more than half.”

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Published May 22, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 22, 2024 at 9:40 pm)

Summer camp spots go to nearly 1,000 children

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