It’s summertime and the living unfortunately isn’t always easy. Parents looking to add fun and educational excitement to their child’s summer experience, or if they need a place to leave their children because they work 8-5, beware!
There is a Better Business (BBB) alert for Be Inspired Cultural Camps which used to be Inspirational Keys Performing Arts. These programs are, or were, based in Memphis but are found in cities across the country. Detroit, San Francisco, Miami—here is the link to the camp’s sketchy website that lists all the places they are located.
And HERE is the camp’s Home website.
In the Mid-South the BBB have received complaints from several states. The program didn’t come through with the many activities as promised and parents will likely lose their money. The camp claimed to be for young and older children.
Worse, these camps rent space from reputable universities, as they did with Rice University and the University of Memphis.
The camp seems to have been sponsored by a non-profit organization called SMART Schools Inc. at least in Houston. SMART Schools contracted with Be Inspired Cultural Arts to operate the camp. HERE.
Tommie Henderson of SMART Schools says his organization made the call to shut down the camp because SMART Schools Inc. could not verify counselors had state required training, and because advertised curriculum was not being offered and SMART Schools claims it never received money from Be Inspired.
Rice University refused to permit the Be Inspired Camp to open because there were not enough counselors for the students and it was unsafe.
The camps also advertise being located in reputable places like Florida Gulf Coast University and Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium in Lee County. In Louisville, the program was housed in a church and an elementary school. HERE is the ad for the camp being held at Florida Gulf Coast University.
I could find nothing further about how the program is working out in Florida.
These locations make the camps doubly deceptive. Parents trust universities, churches, schools and local community centers which study the environment. They might wrongly believe these institutions are putting on the program directly.
Those facilities, it would seem, have a responsibility to the public before renting space to such questionable groups.
Here are some key factors to look for when you’re considering a learning program for summer or during the school year. Consider these questions with charter school selection too.
- Look for the name of a contact person, or preferably many names of qualified individuals, on the website. There are no people to contact on the Be Inspired Cultural Camps website. There is no listing under the “Who Are We.” Any reputable program lists instructors for the program—credentials, degrees and backgrounds.
- Make sure your money is refundable. Get it in writing and make sure it is written clearly.
- Ask around. Do you know other parents who have enrolled their children in these programs in the past? Word of mouth can provide the best information.
- Is it community run? Learn who is really running the program or the volunteers involved. You usually know the people behind library programs or Vacation Bible Schools. I’m not saying these programs will be good or bad, but you will at least be somewhat informed.
- They promise too much. The Be Inspired Cultural Camps website promises a long list of activities. Community colleges sometimes offer summer programs for children, but they will tell who is teaching the class and more about each program. And they include the name of the instructor and contact person.
- Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If you Google Be Inspired Cultural Camps, and the BBB, you will find information that raises red flags. You will learn that the camp changed its name and read about many other complaints. You will learn who runs the programs—in this case Quinton Cox. I always check the BBB no matter what business I am considering for any service.
We all mess up because we trust in something or someone who makes promises they don’t keep, so don’t feel too bad if you got ripped off. By all means gather information from the BBB and report the group you feel did you wrong. Try to get your money back.
The BBB also has information about charter schools. Type in the name of the school and BBB and see what they say.
Stay cool this summer. Connect with others. It’s a tough old world.