The New York Post gave this particular summer camp a very apt nickname – “Camp Crook.” And there is a good reason for the name. According to the paper, a man who was big on greed and low on morals reportedly conned families into enrolling their children in his day camp, where they were to bask in the glory of summer fun with trips to amusement parks and outings to Chuck E. Cheese. But Camp Vision Now turned out to merely be a plot to divide unlucky parents from their money. Oh, and the con man? He also claimed he was a pastor.
Dejean Gathers of Atlanta, who stated that he was a pastor at the Prophetic Promise Cathedral Church, sold enrollment to his mostly fictional Camp Vision Now (with locations in Brooklyn, The Bronx and New Jersey, among others) on the discount site Living Social for $500 to $1000 for a nine-week session. He even built a website (which is currently down) and started a Twitter account to give a vision of a functioning camp.
Families reportedly arrived at their designated meeting points on the scheduled days only to find that they had been fooled. Although six of the seven locations were made-up meeting places, the con man did attempt to run one real camp in Brooklyn. He staffed the camp with three counselors where – according to the New York Post – “the campers were herded into libraries or led on aimless walks around Brooklyn to kill time.” But Gathers’s attempt to create a real Camp Vision Now was thwarted by the city’s Health Department because he did not have any permits.
Gathers did not respond to defend himself or to comment on the situation. Fortunately, Living Social has promised to refund the money to parents who fell for the con. It’s sad that the parents were taken advantage of in the first place, but it just proves that one must know a camp by valid reviews, reputation, or by recommendations. Even worse, what if the camp wasn’t just fake but one that planned to harm the children? A scary thought for sure.
Do you do research on the camps you put your child in?
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