TRAVERSE CITY (WWJ/AP) – Grand Traverse County officials have issued a public health advisory after learning operators of a children’s summer camp didn’t notify parents about campers using a bucket as a toilet and other unsanitary conditions.
The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that county health officials issued the advisory Thursday after inspecting the Little Artshram Summer Camp at the Historic Barns Park last week in Traverse City.
Officials say camp workers also buried excrement from the bucket in part of a community garden used for flowers and trees.
Health officials say they asked camp director Penny Krebiehl for contact information for campers’ parents, and Krebiehl’s attorney Kristyn Houle declined, citing privacy concerns.
Houle said the advisory surprised officials at the now-closed camp. She said they promised to notify parents and are fully cooperating.
“We are cooperating 100 percent,” Houle said.
Krebiehl sent an email to campers’ parents Aug. 3, and said the camp had closed because it didn’t have a license. The email did not mention the toilet bucket or other issues.
Little Artshram board member Rokko Jans said camp operators plan to test soil to ease concerns. He said previously that the bucket was part of an aboveground composting toilet and children didn’t touch it.
The health advisory has advised campers’ parents to watch their children for diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloody stools, vomiting or fever. The advisory also warned gardeners who rented garden plots to thoroughly wash produce and monitor their health.
“It’s simply not a hygienic environment for children and I am very concerned,” health department director Fred Keeslar said.
According to documents obtained by the Record-Eagle through a Freedom of Information Act request, health officials may be seeking legal action against the camp to ensure compliance with sanitation laws.
The Little Artshram Summer Camp offers weekly day-camps over a 10-week period at a cost of $150 per week. According to their website, the camp is “inspired by and offers a creative, nature-mimicking approach” with programs “guided by an ecological design process.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.