Summer camp leaves parents high and dry

Published:
http://www.beinspiredarts.org/

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A Southwest Florida mom said she enrolled her three children in a nationwide summer camp that cancelled just days before it was set to start and has not been refunded her the money. Call for Action investigators uncovered the camp has a history of unsatisfied customers.

Loren Daniels searched for the perfect summer camp, which would allow her to enroll her three children, ranging in age from four-years-old to school aged. Then, one day she received a flyer for “Be Inspired Cultural Arts Summer Camp” in her child’s backpack. She registered her three children and attended a pre-camp meeting to meet the owner, Quinton Cox.

“We felt good. We were like, okay, this will work, it’s at FGCU [Florida Gulf Coast University], it’s right down the road, it’s local, we know the area, so it will be fine,” Daniels explained.

However, Daniels said just two days before the camp was set to open in June, Cox called her and said the camp was cancelled due to low attendance.

“I was like what are we going to do now? I was like what will we do, will we have to rush and find something else for them do, find another camp? And we just were confused,” said Daniels.

The timing of the cancellation could not have come at a worse time. After eight years of working toward a political science degree and raising three children, Daniels had just one general education class left, that she planned to take this summer.

“I was thinking it would be perfect during the summer to finish up this course and place the kids somewhere where they would be together most of the day. My husband can work,” she told Call for Action. “…but now it’s like I had to cancel my course, I had to drop it. I have to wait until fall, or maybe next year, to start the course, once they all start in school together.”

To top it off, Daniels had already paid $618 in fees to “Be Inspired” and she has yet to see that money.

“What he’s [Cox] doing isn’t fair. There’s parents all across the country who need assistance with their kids over the summer and he’s cheating them out of their money,” she said.

The camp was supposed to start on June 8 at Florida Gulf Coast University’s campus. In an email, a university spokesperson told Call for Action it was not affiliated with the camp, but was renting out its facilities. We requested public records and discovered FGCU cancelled the camp June 3, five days before it was set to open because Cox had not provided proof of his non-profit status, nor his certificate of insurance. Two requirements the university had asked for since Cox signed an agreement with the school, in March.

That was news to Daniels, who said Cox gave a different reason for the camp being cancelled.

“June 6 we received a call that we needed to contact them because there was something going on with the camp. And he let us know that it was going to be cancelled due to the fact that they didn’t have enough students registered,” Daniels recalled.

After Daniels contacted Call for Action, we uncovered “Be Inspired” has had problems this summer in multiple other locations. A police report in Miami revealed teachers contracted with “Be Inspired” walked off the job after two weeks without pay. The camp then closed.

In Memphis, the camp closed just a few weeks after it opened.

In Houston, parents were upset after the camp did not open the first day due to lack of teachers. The camp was reopened, and then closed permanently after a couple of weeks.

Call for Action wanted to help Daniels get her money back, so we called Quinton Cox, who agreed to speak with us via Skype.

“Upon doing the marketing piece in Fort Myers there, we had a very low number of students who signed up there, so we did have to pull out of doing the camp before we got started,” Cox told us. “About 85-percent of those students already received refund…There is [sic] less than 10 people that are still owed refunds, and of course we’re still processing those and we plan to get those out. We’ve had just some issues in being able to do those things as quick as we need to specifically because there was a 3rd party that I brought in as a partner to be the non-profit…This company basically crashed our operations.”

Call for Action talked to that “third party,” who we chose not to name because we cannot verify Cox’s accusation.

“I don’t know how to respond to it…I have zero affiliation with Be Inspired in Fort Myers, and I have, my organization had nothing to do with anything around Fort Myers,” said the third-party spokesperson.

Both told Call for Action they intend to take each other to court.

We also found the Better Business Bureau has issued an alert for “Be Inspired” because of the number of complaints they have received about the business.

“I just think that the most important thing is that something gets done about Quinton because if he’s not stopped, he’s going to continue to do the same thing every year. And parents are going to lose money,” said Daniels.

For more on how to pick out a summer camp, check out the Better Business Bureau.

 

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