School’s out for summer — and the pool’s out for some Red Hook campers as well.
Three weeks into the camp season, city bureaucrats are still blocking kids from Red Hook Recreation Summer Camp from using the neighborhood watering hole — and parents are irate.
“Government should be ashamed of itself,” said one mom, Elizabeth Ernish.
The camp, run by the Parks Department, has been using the adjacent pool for years to teach underprivileged children how to swim. The camp has always followed the proper procedures, including employing an on-site aquatic director required by the city. But this summer, the Department of Health denied the camp’s permit, even as it approved pool permits for five other camps.
The agency did not give a reason.
“I’m outraged that my kids are being denied the right to swim and have to be stuck inside, watching kids from other neighborhoods come in and use the pool next door,” Ernish said.
Some parents have tried to make it a class issue, but several of the five camps that have been approved are non-profit camps serving inner city youth.
Still, the denial of the Red Hookers has parents hot under the collar.
“Whoever heard of a summer camp at a pool where the kids are not allowed to swim?” said Alan Mukamal, who has two children spending a hot July without a swim program at the Red Hook camp.
Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said that his agency doesn’t have anything against the Red Hook kids, but merely that the camp didn’t follow proper permit procedure this year.
The Department of Health would not explain the screw up, saying only that it is working with the Parks Department — it’s a Parks Department camp, remember — to complete the application.
As city officials point fingers, kids just want to do what kids do in summer: cool off in one of the city’s best public pools.
For now, the campers are spending their day playing foosball and air hockey — both delightful pastimes, of course, but no substitute for jumping into three feet, 10 inches of icy cold water.
“It stinks that we can’t swim,” said Miles Mukamal, 9, a camper.