Outrage sparked as Easter Kids’ Camp is cancelled and its future remains dubious

The cancellation of the Easter residential Kids’ Camp has caused outrage this week, after the Trustee Board decided only to maintain the non-residential Kids’ Club scheme

Kinchin promised in her manifesto to “work for the future of Kids’ Camp”; but it isn’t on this Easter [Photo: Joey Ellis]

Kinchin promised in her manifesto to “work for the future of Kids’ Camp”; but it isn’t on this Easter [Photo: Joey Ellis]

The cancellation of the Easter residential Kids’ Camp has caused outrage this week, after the Trustee Board decided only to maintain the non-residential Kids’ Club scheme.

A previous YUSU Charities Development Officer has claimed that the decision is causing Kids’ Camp to move “backwards” and that Kids’ Camp has a “responsibility to the community” that will leave a void if cancelled.

This news follows concerns raised earlier in the academic year that the removal of the Student Development and Charities Officer from the Union would threaten the future of Kids’ Camp. It is no longer within the Student Activities Officer’s remit to manage and run the camp, and finding someone to take on the responsibility has proved problematic due to the experience and training required to take on the responsibility of the project. The previous Officer maintains, however, that “the only way there could be a potential liability is if they [Kids’ Camp] were seen to be negligent.”

The previous Officer cites how “impressed” the Chair of Safeguarding in York was by how “well covered” Kids’ Camp was when she was an Officer in the Union.

She added: “The Union has the responsibility within the city to fill the gap within the community.”

Jamie Tyler, Student Development Officer from 2008-2009, said: “There needs to be someone in the Sabb team to champion Kids’ Camp.”

One member of the Kids’ Camp Working Group, a sub-committee of the Trustee Board, told Nouse: “All the training that we have to go through makes it impossible for there to be any potential liability… Kids’ Camp has been running for 40 years and has never encountered any problems before.” 

Tim Ngwena, YUSU President and Chair of the Trustee Board, commented: “Unfortunately, the primary concern has to be the liability… People have to separate the emotional attachment they have to the experience with the management and organisation of the project.” He added that one of the reasons why there have not been more meetings regarding establishing a residential project this Easter is because it “costs so much money and staff time” to hire a person to organise and manage Camp.

This follows information given to Nouse this week detailing how there have been no more than two Kids’ Camp meetings this term. One member of the Working Group also complained to Ngwena about the minuting of the meeting, in which it was officially decided that Easter Camp would run as a non-residential project.

Rhianna Kinchin, Chair of the Working Group, has been accused of failing to take “adequate minutes” during the meeting, in which the decision made was “huge… for a project that has run for over 40 years, and represents a massive failure on both a democratic and good governance dimension.” Kinchin stated in her manifesto last year that she wanted “to work for the future of Kids’ Camp” and that this meant “finding a way of running camp with minimum risk.”

Tyler added: “They [YUSU] can definitely do more to save Kids’ Camp.”

Kinchin commented: “I fed back the suggestions of the informal group to the Trustee Board where the Board asked for an extensive review and decided to formally recognise the group; the decision to make Kids Camp non-residential at Easter had to be taken to ensure the project’s future.”

19 comments

  1. Why has this come out immediately after the election? surely this was decided quite a while ago as Easter is getting very close?

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  2. 16 Mar ’10 at 6:31 pm

    In the know...

    This was decided quite a long time ago, and gets confirmed by the Trustee Board even though it’s been a foregone conclusion. That there wasn’t going to be a residential kids’ camp was one of Nick Scarlett’s reasons for having his ‘save/safeguard kids’ camp’ policies, he even mentioned that at Hustings and at later dates: so why is this even a news story? Just another dig at Rhianna by the sound of it: this sounds like yet another excuse to make her look bad.

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  3. 16 Mar ’10 at 7:01 pm

    not convinced

    I don’t think the lack of substance to this story is Nouse’s fault. I think they have been misinformed by Mr/Mrs informant and Mr/Mrs member of the Kids Camp working group.

    The future of Kids Camp was put into question when the YUSU restructure was passed two years ago. From then on in it has been an uphill struggle for YUSU to find a way to continue the project and, it has now literally been carried as far as the Sabbs can – now it’s up to the Trustees. Credit where credits due – YUSU have been working to save Kid’s Camp!

    Also:

    “Kids’ Camp has been running for 40 years and has never encountered any problems before.”

    Really?
    http://www.nouse.co.uk/2008/05/13/executive-votes-to-suspend-kid%E2%80%99s-camp-following-%E2%80%98incident%E2%80%99-during-april-session/
    Boom boom pow.

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  4. This article, in conjunction with Nick Scarlett’s campaign for YUSU Student Activities Officer, has had a huge positive impact on the future of the project.

    The Kids Camp Working Group actually met today, and a number of key decisions were made that pretty much ensured Kids Camp would run as a professional, residential project for two weeks over the summer. Rhianna will be posting a blog about this soon, I believe.

    The campus media (and indeed election campaigns) get a lot of stick for commenting rather than participating in the process of improving student’s lives. In this case, they both helped to raise the profile of the issue, making sure YUSU realised just how important it was to students.

    This is *exactly* what should happen in a member-led democratic organisation.

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  5. 16 Mar ’10 at 7:36 pm

    Just so you know

    Yes, there may have been incidents before.

    Hence why it is in quotes. Not stated as a fact. This is one of the source’s opinions.

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  6. 16 Mar ’10 at 7:49 pm

    not convinced

    Correct.

    That is why I said “I think they have been misinformed by … Mr/Mrs member of the Kids Camp working group” – that was exactly my point.

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  7. “That there wasn’t going to be a residential kids’ camp was one of Nick Scarlett’s reasons for having his ’save/safeguard kids’ camp’ policies, he even mentioned that at Hustings and at later dates”

    Correct.

    I think it’s important to clarify that it is understandable that this Easter hasn’t run as a full residential Camp. Of course, it’s massively disappointing – however in addition to the restructure (appointment of a Camp Manager in replacement of an SDC), the loss of the Bramhope venue has led to it being almost unfeasible to run a perfect Camp at Easter. My intention is to ensure that there is a long term, sustainable future for Camp and that it runs THREE times in a year. That hasn’t been feasible this year due to a collection of circumstances which have been beyond Rhianna’s control. At the moment the Working Group are pushing hard to work towards a solution for Summer with some exciting ideas, and I think that with the work done so far this year alongside that in the next 12 months we can create a long term future for Camp. As not convinced stated, “The future of Kids Camp was put into question when the YUSU restructure was passed two years ago” and with the work Rhianna and myself (and the other members of the working group including the YUSU CEO) are doing now and next year, we can hopefully put an end to the “will it run/won’t it run” facade that’s occurring every year at the moment.

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  8. 16 Mar ’10 at 10:18 pm

    Dubious about Nouse

    Rhianna’s comment, “the decision to make Kids Camp non-residential at Easter had to be taken to ensure the project’s future” renders this story a little pointless. She shouldn’t be criticised for making sure the future of Kids Camp is planned thoroughly and not rushed before Easter. She’s doing what she said she’d do.

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  9. To say there weren’t issues before is a bit silly – there have been issues every year that I’ve been here and I know that there were many issues before it whether it’s the liability of YUSU, the absence of years of training that some people think volunteers should have had, the risks in any given location, the value of the project compared to its cost…

    I know that Rhianna’s been working a lot on it (and in particular very recently) and whilst it’s unfortunate – and I had hoped (as someone on last summer’s Kids’ Camp) that there wouldn’t be issues this year after Jamie Tyler put a ton of effort into safeguarding it towards the end of his time in office – it’s good that more effort is going into making it safer and better for the future.

    Still, does indeed seem an odd time to write the piece >.>

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  10. 17 Mar ’10 at 1:12 pm

    In the know...

    It just sounds like a Scarlett-boosting, Rhianna-downing article. Massive kudos to Tom Flynn and Nick Scarlett for both coming out (seemingly) in support of Rhianna in their comments, considering all that has happened over the last couple of weeks. Nouse, think about being a little more responsible when you write articles, please?

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  11. “Massive kudos to Tom Flynn and Nick Scarlett for both coming out”

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  12. Its important to clarify that http://www.nouse.co.uk/2008/05/13/executive-votes-to-suspend-kid%E2%80%99s-camp-following-%E2%80%98incident%E2%80%99-during-april-session/ was overturned shortly after it was decided. I think the camps were run that summer. The arguments were heard at the YUSU committee, including from staff members against it, but the anti camp side lost.

    Has anyone considered the liabilities involved in the extreme sports that we do?

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  13. 18 Mar ’10 at 11:28 am

    Apparently in the know

    @Convinced

    Comparing KC to extreme sports is a poor example.

    Those that undertake such risky sports are applying the risk to themselves when they take part. What KC volunteers seem to forget when they get on their high-horse about helping kids from poor social backgrounds, is that these kids cannot be their guinea pigs to this exercise in self-gratification.

    Yes, KC does bring a whole lot of good to both the volunteers and the children that attend but this is still not good enough reason to allow something with so much high risk to take place, and KC in its previous form, WAS high-risk.

    So Kinchin was right to stop it. And Scarlett, good luck in sorting it out, but whatever way you look at it, you can’t deny that last summer’s camp was a legal minefield and could not have gone on.

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  14. ”The arguments were heard at the YUSU committee, including from staff members against it, but the anti camp side lost.”

    Hmm that meeting was a prime example of people putting their personal views above their responsibilities as a trustee. Those present could have been told ‘do not run camp’ and the vote would still have gone the way it did.

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  15. “What KC volunteers seem to forget when they get on their high-horse about helping kids from poor social backgrounds, is that these kids cannot be their guinea pigs to this exercise in self-gratification.”

    Are you kidding me? Maybe if more students were mindful of giving something back to the community, then we wouldn’t have anywhere near so much trouble with York residents? Projects like Kids Camp are not about self-gratification: they are about student development and social responsibility. If you honestly think that anyone involved in Kids Club, Camp, or mentoring schemes like the Island do it for selfish reasons, then I pity you. You must lead a very self-involved life to assume others do the same.

    “So Kinchin was right to stop it. And Scarlett, good luck in sorting it out, but whatever way you look at it, you can’t deny that last summer’s camp was a legal minefield and could not have gone on.”

    From this statement, you must either have been a volunteer, or one of the Trustees who visited Camp? In either instance, you should also then be aware of the issues that we had regarding referrals that led to the problems you cite. Issues that were subsequently and immediately addressed. That, of course, does not mean that Camp didn’t need to change – and indeed things like employing a professional Camp Manager are great steps forward.

    To finish, regarding the issue of risk. Even the YUSU CEO pointed out in this week’s Working Group that it was not the riskiest project that YUSU run, and that it’s benefits vastly outweigh the potential costs.

    Why don’t we stop discussing whether it *should* exist, and instead start talking about some positive ideas to make it better?

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  16. 18 Mar ’10 at 12:56 pm

    Apparently in the know

    “Are you kidding me? Maybe if more students were mindful of giving something back to the community, then we wouldn’t have anywhere near so much trouble with York residents?”.

    That is just about the most ridiculous thing you’ve come up with to date. Do you honestly think that the fifteen or so kids that attend KC are going to change the community’s view on students?

    Flynn you’ve hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned when you concede that there were some pretty big problems with KC in 08-09.

    And the fact of the matter is, that following ‘the incident’ reported in Apr 2008, YUSU had a wakeup call to address the problems of camp, but didn’t do so, and instead ran another three fairly risky episodes, following a weak meeting of reinstatement that Anon. refers to.

    You’re right that the scheme needed to change, and Rhianna was right to suspend it until it did, otherwise these problems would have continued to have gone addressed.

    But whilst we’re on the subject, your behaviour when posting under pseudonyms (in particular towards Rhianna) has been disgraceful – we all know who you are on this. And whilst I realise that I’m a hypocrite in my own anonymity, I can’t be bothered with all the snide remarks and bitchiness that you are your crew will subject me to on campus if I post under my own name.

    Though I’m sure that won’t stop you.

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  17. “Though I’m sure that won’t stop you.”

    Correct. Except instead of making baseless and incorrect accusations regarding anonymous posts that have nothing to do with this discussion, I’m just going to point out the gaping holes in your arguments.

    “That is just about the most ridiculous thing you’ve come up with to date. Do you honestly think that the fifteen or so kids that attend KC are going to change the community’s view on students?”

    First off, I was talking about the range of projects that YUSU participate in with respect to working with Kids. Secondly, 3 camps per year, with 20 kids equals 60, not 15. Add to this the amount of children linked up with the Island, and those that come on Kids Club, and you end up with a significant amount of York residents coming into contact with these project(s) first hand.

    But putting all this aside – projects like this should be publicised in the local media etc – which *will* help shape the view of the community on York students. Rachel Hesselwood’s (brilliant) policy during the recent elections relating to this is *exactly* what is needed.

    Lastly, regarding the suspension. The summer camps in 2009 were over 7 months ago. The point of this article is, I think, that it shouldn’t have taken YUSU (not Rhianna, hence the article approaching Tim Ngwena for a quote) this long to get the ball rolling on making the changes that Camp needed. Again – surely this is a positive thing? The campus media and election campaigns should be about triggering change – exactly what has happened.

    Stop taking it all so personally, and start making some constructive comments. If you know so much about camp, why not post some ideas to improve it, instead of continuing a pointless argument?

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  18. I should also point out that that post was my last on this topic. The Working Group is moving forward again, and I’m confident Camp will survive in a much improved format – good for YUSU, good for students, and good for York.

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  19. 18 Mar ’10 at 2:16 pm

    Actually in the know

    “So Kinchin was right to stop it. And Scarlett, good luck in sorting it out, but whatever way you look at it, you can’t deny that last summer’s camp was a legal minefield and could not have gone on.”

    It did go on. And after reviewing the Kids Camp situation in Easter a couple of years ago, it continued. The reason is that there will always be a risk with this kind of volunteer project – you’re taking the kids most likely to misbehave and sticking them together. Even at home a lot of these kids will storm out if they think they’re being told off so of course you’ll have difficulties. But on the other hand this is the highlight of their year and who the fuck do you think you are to say that Kids Camp is an “exercise in self-gratification” when it’s one of the best things that this University does?

    If you actually are in the know, and aren’t just basing your assertions on rumours, then there’s a limited number of people you could be. Definitely not a volunteer with an attitude like that. I agree with your thoughts on having to change it and that there are probably better ways of running it but to say that the previous camps were a disgrace – when they massively helped some children’s lives – is just appalling.

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