With Hurricane Irene behind us and power restored to the people of Woodbridge, Beecher Road School finally started the day after Labor Day. On Wednesday, the Parent Teacher Organization held the back to school ice cream social. This is an annual event where a handful of parents in the PTO work diligently to get the school year off to a good start, and just about everyone else breathes a sign of relief.
Further complicating this year’s back to school ice cream social, it was raining yet again, so the event was held indoors. I was even later than I had anticipated due to a couple accidents on the parkway I passed on my way home. All of the energy of the children released itself in a level of noise which would have dissipated much more nicely outside.
To the parents of older children, the whole event was very familiar. It was the same old faces same the same stuff. Dr. Stella, First Selectman Sheehy, Senator Crisco, and Representative Klarides all did there part. For new families, it was a chance to meet other parents and members of the community and get a sense of the school their children were now attending.
Yet after Hurricane Irene and the cleanup, after the concerns about Hurricane Katia, the wildfires in Texas, the debt crisis in Europe, and gridlock in Washington, it was good to see the old familiar rituals carried out and the ability of people to carry on and make the best of things, even if it was a rainy start to the new school year.
With provisions ready, and tired after a week on the Cape, I went to bed early and managed to sleep fairly soundly until about 2 AM when the wind started picking up. We still have power, and the only flickering of lights may actually be my sleep eyes blinking.
We live in a fairly heavily wooded area and for the past two hours, there have been plenty of sounds of things banging around outside.
I check what is going on online. Power has gone out in Milford. 34,000 people in CT are currently without power. As I write this, a message flashes on the screen saying it is now 40,000. Various roads have been closed, including the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkway, if reports are correct.
Meanwhile, I read reports of friend from high school, oh so many years ago, having gathered at a reunion back in Williamstown. It would have been great to have been there, but not feasible.
Inside the house, Avery, our neighbors dog who is staying with us, is a bit rattled by the storm. Reilly, our cat, is asking to go outside. He’s normally an indoor/outdoor cat, but we’ll try to keep him inside during the storm.
I’ll post this now, hopefully before we lose power.
Fiona, who has been going to the Woodbridge Recreation Summer Camp for the past few years, came home recently and proclaimed that she hated it. It was a surprise, since just a few weeks ago, she was eagerly trying to recruit additional friends to join her at camp. What brought about the sudden change of opinion? She says that one of the campers is always picking on her and that her counselor, who also babysits for the camper Fiona says picks on her, does nothing to stop it, and in fact joins in on the bullying. My wife attempted to contact them via email when she learned the details, but since it was after 4 PM on Friday they never responded. In fact, when the camp leaders showed up at 8:20 this morning, well after the early drop off time, they were reportedly defensive saying that they didn’t respond to emails during the weekend, and that they didn’t have time to deal with the issue because they were about to have a staff meeting. They did say that they had spoken with the counselor who said that there was nothing wrong going on.
According to Fiona, the straw that broke the camels back was when she was pushed into the pool with her clothes by the camper that has been consistently bullying her and the counselors did nothing. She also says that the counselor that babysits for the bullying camper threatened to kick Fiona in the face if Fiona did not run quicker in one of the games they were playing. Put simply, my daughter said that she no longer feels safe going to Woodbridge Rec Camp.
I could easily go off on how it appears as if the camp does not have a sufficient policy in place for dealing with bullying, sufficient training for the staff about bullying, or whether or not they have sufficient hiring policies or background checks. I could talk about the liability that this places on the camp and the town. However, there is a different aspect I want to focus on.
If a company has a loyal, long term customer who suddenly starts complaining about the service of the company, the company can dismiss the complaints, lose a customer, and potentially gain an adversary, or they can demonstrate that they take the concerns of their customers seriously. From a strictly business perspective, it is clear that Woodbridge Rec has failed. Given the unsatisfactory responses my wife received from various people involved with the Woodbridge Rec camp, she posted a comment on Facebook and several people came forward speaking with her about their experiences with bullying taking place at Woodbridge Rec Camp and the failure of the camp staff to address it.
So, until there are some major changes in the way the Woodbridge Recreation Department handles concerns about bullying, safety and liability issues, I will have to firmly advocate against the Woodbridge Recreation Department.