By: Billy BeerSlugger
You may have heard this story about a group of 60 kids from a day camp in Philadelphia which was bussed to the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley PA only to be told not to come back a day later after an emergency board meeting by the swim club.
The story is all over the news and reached national levels even moving Actor/Director Tyler Perry of the Tyler Perry movies to pay for a 3 day stay in Disneyland. There’s no denying that the kids in the day camp are primarily black and that the clientele in the swim club is primarily white. There’s where the story comes from; the sensationalism of racism.
Now the swimming club says they had legitimate crowd concerns which may or may not be true. One of the campers, Dymire Baylor, commented, saying, “I heard this lady, she was like, ‘Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ‘I’m scared they might do something to my child.” Two other campers reported strange comments, prompting one to ask, “Am I too black to go into the pool?”.
Well you might just chalk that up to what Obama might call being a “typical white person“. As in there is an inherent reaction to white people that’s “been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way and that’s just the nature of race in our society”. (And he’s right we do have to break through it).
But I digress, the issue here is that the summer camp paid $1,900 to have the 60 kids go to the pool every Monday for 90 minutes for the duration of the summer. I did some math and it essentially breaks down to $2.64 per visit. Now the swim club supposedly received multiple complaints from members leading to the emergency board meeting that terminated the Day Camp membership. I think the economics of this decision are pretty easy. A swimming membership for the summer for one person can range from $300 to $350 in the area for a single person and a family of four can be around $600 – $650. So from an economics standpoint if you lose 5.5 singular memberships or 3 family’s of four due to the kids being there the swim club takes a bit of a bath. Not to mention dealing with the other “typical white” people who don’t relinquish their membership but complain constantly.
This is all conjecture but I’m thinking from a economical and “dealing with bullshit” standpoint, you say let’s give the kids back their money, keep our “typical white” members happy that are our bread and butter. You cite crowd concerns/safety and that’s your alibi. Seems to work for me except maybe the alibi wasn’t airtight and you didn’t count on the national news coverage on your ass and the racist label hung over your Swim Club sign.
There really was no winning angle to be played here. Either lose money and reputation with your members and let the kids stay the summer or refund the money and take whatever the parents, media and Tyler Perry throw at you. It’s sad but the real wrong move was to invite the group at all. Every private swim club board in America has now been served up a lesson in how not to get into a Public Relations nightmare and possibly a $50,000 fine; don’t go out of your way to try and do a good deed and give some underprivileged youngsters a place to swim. So in effect what may seem like a win against racism and anti-civil rights actually just made it ten times harder to get underprivileged kids into nicer private swim clubs. It’s a double edged sword but it looks like the kids are at least going to get $50,000 minus lawyer fees. Hopefully it all goes right to a college education fund, I could get my Michael Phelps on with that scenario. Of course that’s not going to happen.