Lisa Lock is looking for answers after a summer camp she paid for was cancelled with no refunds being offered.
“Where did all the money go?” Lock asked when Global News spoke to her Thursday.
The Kelowna woman paid $800 for her two sons, Liam and Cameron, to attend a two-week long soccer camp put on by the Royal City Soccer Club, a non-profit organization that has been running summer camps across Canada for 28 years.
According to the Royal City Soccer Club, roughly 20,000 children take part in the camp every summer.
The organization sent a letter to parents via e-mail on June 1, advising that due to COVID-19, a decision was made to cancel this year’s camps, which run in July and August.
What got Lock really upset was that the letter stated that no refunds would be issued.
“I was outraged,” she said. “It is a significant amount of money.”
In the letter, the Royal City Soccer Club stated:
“Many camps and organizations, like Royal City Soccer Club, are non-profit meaning there are little to no reserve funds available. Most of the costs incurred for summer camp (some 90 per cent) occur in the 10 months leading up to the camp. Currently, most government funding does not help with the nonrecoverable costs incurred to this point.
“As schools closed, so did summer camp registrations. When registrations came to a screeching halt, so did cash flow. Summer camps everywhere need the help of their communities to survive. We do not have the reserves to refund families.”
Lock said she had also signed her sons up for other camps operated by non-profit organizations, and received full refunds when those camps were cancelled.
“There are many other non-profits that chose to fully refund. I think it’s just good business practice,” Lock said.
“Saying that you’re non-profit, therefore we don’t need to refund you, is simply not good enough.”
Global News contacted Jeff Bryer of Ontario, the founder and program director of Royal City Soccer Club.
Bryer refused to do a formal interview or provide quotes for the story, but told Global News that most of the money from registration fees has already been spent on things like advertisements to market the camps, as well as on administration.
That money, he said, can’t be recovered and therefore refunds cannot be issued.
“This makes me highly suspicious of how the operations are run,” Lock said.
“We had signed up in early March and then it was COVID and the world shut down, so I didn’t understand where all the money disappeared to within two months . . . Were you still actively advertising during that time? I would want to question where those funds went.”
Bryer told Global News he feels terrible and understands completely where parents are coming from, but unless government steps in with some kind of an aid package for non-profit organizations like his, there simply is no money available to issue refunds.
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Since Royal City Soccer Club will not be offering in-person camps, it is giving parents and children the option to take part in a virtual camp for the payment they have already made.
The organization is also allowing parents to defer this year’s payment for next year’s camp.
But Lock said for her family and others she knows in the same boat, that’s not an option they want to even consider at this point.
“People that are feeling a bit of distaste around this,” she said. “They don’t want to have their kids enrolled next year in Royal City Soccer Club.”
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