Takoma Park Parents know that getting into summer camps is highly competitive. Parents begin registering as early as December to make sure their kids have a full summer schedule, which can be very stressful.
Last week, the FBI announced several accusations of a major summer camp bribery scheme, led by several Takoma Park parents and camp counselors. According to the report, parents paid thousands of dollars to make sure their kids had a spot in camps that were already advertised as full.
For many parents, waiting too long can mean their child won’t get into the most desirable camps, such as Vegan Cooking Camp, Barista Camp, and the top-rated Drum Circle Camp, and will have to settle for less popular choices, like Outdoor Activities Camp and Hiking Camp.
“There’s no way a responsible parent should have to settle for Hiking Camp,” stated Maggie Lowe. “Imagine not being able to reach your kid by cell phone at any moment of the day due to poor reception. I can see why some parents would bribe their way into something else.”
The report showed that the counselor of the Social Media Camp, Takoma Park’s largest camp, was reported to have received ten of thousands of dollars in bribes spanning five years. “It’s a very popular camp with limited availability, which means it was an easy target to catch parents,” explained an FBI agent. “All the kids have FOMO about missing Social Media Camp. It’s where they make all their IRL friends.”
In one particular instance, a parent was able to lock in a spot for their son in the popular Takoma Soccer Camp, even though their son had never played soccer. This parent had paid 1,000 dollars to a private coach who then registered the child online. “I’m not even sure why this parent felt the need to do this,” remarked a soccer camp volunteer assistant. “Most of these kids at our camp have never played soccer before.”
Bribes ranged from as little as 50 to 1,000 dollars, and payment types included cash, donations to fake charities, and free parking behind Mark’s Kitchen. While most bribes were under a thousand dollars, one large bribe reported by the FBI was a wire of 250,000 dollars for their daughter to attend the Stanford Prep Sailing Camp.