Brant Lake Camp counselor Dylan Stolz has been arrested on criminal charges for alleged sexual abuse of nine campers at the all-boys camp in the Adirondacks. Stolz allegedly fondled the boys in their bunkhouses and camp showers. Stolz is facing 26 criminal charges, including 14 felonies. The camp is marketed an an exclusive, boys-only camp in Horicon, New York that has operated for nearly 100 years. Stolz worked at the camp for more than three decades. Stolz, age 51, also worked as a 4th-grade teacher in the Hewlett-Woodmere school district in Nassau County, according to law enforcement.
Summer is the time of year when many parents send their kids off on that grand adventure: sleepaway camp. Summer camp can be an exciting time for kids, when they make new friends and get a taste of independence from their families. Parents, too, often appreciate the weeks of sleep-away camp, for a variety of reasons. It is an enormous leap of faith for parents to hand their child over to a camp for sometimes weeks at a time. They have to trust that the child is in a supervised, safe environment with responsible adult leaders. But as we see every summer, no place is completely safe, not even the idyllic summer camp.
The fact is that no matter how picturesque the camp looks in its brochures, the risk of childhood sexual abuse in summer camp exists and it occurs more often than most people realize. No matter what we do to protect our children, there is always a risk that they may be harmed when they are away from us. Sleepaway camps in particular pose some unique opportunities for sexual predators. Children are away from their parents, may be homesick and may not have made any friends, making them vulnerable to attention that they receive from older campers or staff.
There is no fool-proof way to protect your child from all harms while at summer camp. There are, however, some prudent considerations and questions to ask when selecting a camp:
- What risk-management procedures does the camp have in place?
- How are staff, counselors, and volunteers screened and selected? Are criminal background checks being performed prior to supervision?
- How are volunteers trained before they supervise camp-sponsored trips?
- What kind of discipline code is followed? Is it enforced? By whom?
- Are yelling, bullying, harassment, or physical force tolerated? How are incidents of violence and abuse handled?
- Do campers know who they can talk with and what to do if they feel unsafe?
- Are appropriate procedures in place to prevent teachers, counselors, and volunteers from being alone, one-on-one, with children?
- Are at least two counselors or adults present in each cabin at a sleep-away camp?
- On field trips, is there adequate supervision for the size of the group? Are there, for example, at least two staff members or volunteers for class trips of eight or ten students?
- Are age groups reasonably established and kept separate for activities and sleeping?
Our attorneys are experienced in representing victims of child sexual abuse at summer camps in civil lawsuits. If you or someone you know was a victim of child sexual abuse at a summer camp, please contact our law firm at (954) 641-2100 or send an email to sexual abuse attorney Adam Horowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.