The Great Bag Debacle has upended the operations of hundreds of summer camps and the lives of parents from the Poconos to Maine. Camp Trucking, which had been in business since 1974, was the exclusive provider for nearly a hundred camps. An average camper, staying three to four weeks, arrives with two duffels big enough to accommodate a six-foot human, Mr. Aboudara said.
“It obviously was a huge shock,” said Gary Glaser, the owner and director of Camp Nock-A-Mixon, in Kintnersville, Pa., which serves about 500 campers and 1,000 duffel bags each summer. “I’m really disappointed with the owner of Camp Trucking. If they had reached out and said, ‘We’re in some financial trouble,’ I would have said, ‘My people will help you load the trucks.’”
After asking parents for time to sort it out, camp directors began working the phones. Some chartered separate buses just for the luggage. Some linked up with UPS, FedEx or U-Haul. Others reached out to or were contacted by Camp Trucking competitors.
Keith Klein, a senior partner at the Laurel Camps, which has programs in Readfield and Casco, Maine, oversaw about 1,000 campers this summer. Within 18 hours, Mr. Klein and his staff figured out how to shuttle 1,450 duffel bags to 23 states and seven countries in less than a week’s time — with Ship Camps. All bags will be whisked to children’s homes. Laurel Camps is footing the bill. (According to a spokesperson for Ship Camps, the company has transported over 10,000 large trunks and duffels. Only about 20 to 25 percent of the camps are paying for these services, which leaves parents to pay the extra costs.)
Parents are disputing the Camp Trucking fees with their credit card companies, but so far there haven’t been any resolutions. “We told them they’ll probably become creditors in a liquidation and get 20 cents on the dollar in five years,” said Mr. Aboudara.
Emails and calls to Camp Trucking headquarters went unanswered. The president of Camp Trucking, Stuart Seller, hung up when contacted. In a subsequent email, he wrote, “There’s nothing to say.”