NBC10 Boston Responds: Flippin' Out

A number of parents across New England are flipping out after a last minute summer gymnastics camp cancellation

A number of parents across New England are flipping out after a last minute summer gymnastics camp cancellation. They paid more than a thousand dollars for their kids to attend the camp and they want their money back.

Sophia was super ecstatic about attending gymnastics camp in July.

“I was excited about the Olympians that were going,” said Sophia.

“We’d heard about this camp for so many years and it was such a good reputation,” said Sophia’s mother, Christina Hutchins.

But it never happened.

“There was a lot of crying. A lot of crying,” said Hutchins. “She loves gymnastics she worked so hard to be a good gymnast and was so excited to meet famous girls and hang out with other girls who have the same passion as she does.”

Hutchins had signed her daughter up for the U.S. Gymnastics Training Centers overnight summer camp at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley the week of July 15th. U.S. GTC, based in Florida, bills itself as the nation’s ultimate training camp experience for gymnasts and has featured former Olympic stars. Christina paid $1,405 via certified check.

“On Friday, July 13th, I believe, I got a call in the afternoon,” said Hutchins. “It was the owner of the camp, saying the camp was canceled. I honestly thought it was a joke.”

She says the owner, Susan Jacobson, told her the cancellation was due to a dispute with the town.

“I was like so you’re going to contact people and there will be refunds,” said Hutchins. “She said it’s going to take some time to sort thru things. We’ll be in touch next week and then we just never heard anything, and I’ve called and emailed and I’m hearing of other people who have done the same and no response.”

NBC10 Boston Responds heard from other viewers who are in the same situation, trying to get their money back from U.S. GTC. South Hadley ‘s Town Administrator, Mike Sullivan, has been fielding calls as well from parents in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Maine.

“It wasn’t the town dropping the ball for sure, it was the town doing what we are required to do to make children safe,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan says the state adopted new standards and regulations for children’s summer camps this year, requiring more extensive inspections and paperwork. He says the town reached out to organizations, including U.S. GTC, earlier this year to give them a heads up.

“The state puts a 90-day requirement for applications to be submitted,” explained Sullivan. “We were contacting camps as a courtesy, not required, well before that in March and April, and we got no reply from this camp. We tried 11 different times over the next four or five months to contact them and they just did not reply.”

Sullivan says U.S. GTC’s owners didn’t submit an application to the Health Department until July 10th, five days before the camp was scheduled to open and too late to obtain a permit. U.S. GTC did not respond to our inquiries, but the company notified parents last week to direct all questions to Florida lawyer, Donna Bumgardner. Her office confirmed this week that the company is in the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida. The status of camp refunds is up in the air.

“It’s upsetting,” said Hutchins. “First it’s upsetting to see your daughters dreams crushed. And thinking of hundreds of other kids in the same situation, but we are going into the fall season and we have to pay for the club that she’s in now. We both work and we’ll be able to do it, but still, it’s a lot of money that we got nothing for.”

Parents who are seeking a refund should fax their contact information and proof of payment to Florida lawyer, Donna Bumgardner, so they will be a part of the bankruptcy claim. The fax number is: 954-724-4388.

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