UNF summer camp undergoing changes after a boy nearly drowns

Hannah Lee, Editor-in-Chief

A six-year-old boy was pulled from a pool during UNF’s Youth Sports and Fitness Camp after being underwater for a long period of time. He wasn’t pulled out by a lifeguard, but by a random passerby. The incident occurred June 12, and the camp has since undergone massive criticism.

The father of the boy, John Phillips, a civil trial attorney at Law Office of John M. Phillips, posted on Facebook that while his son is okay, he is upset at UNF.

“At pick-up yesterday, Bennett was walked out by an adult with UNF who explained there had been ‘an incident.’ Apparently, they allowed Bennett in the pool without a vest on (Bennett said was sent into the pool with mere noodles as floating devices) and he sunk,” the post said. “He grabbed another child who had a vest when he started to go under.. She didn’t know ‘why the lifeguards didn’t see it.’ Someone pulled him out. She said she was going to ‘check on’ some things and make sure it didn’t happen again. You are right it will never happen again. You don’t get that many chances to injure my child.”

In a recent update on Facebook, made on Saturday, June 15, Phillips stated that his son will be meeting with UNF President David Szymanski and that UNF will be making changes to their summer camp program and seeking third-party accreditation and review. According to the post, there is a video of the incident which depicts seven counselors standing around the pool talking to each other, while more than 50 children, aged five to six, were swimming.

Spinnaker reached out to UNF and received a statement that changes will be made in the camp.

“Every camper in the youngest group, who are ages 5 and 6, will now be required to wear life vests while in the pool,” the statement said. “Previously, swim tests were given every Monday, and campers who passed the test weren’t required to wear a vest.”

The changes will include a required life vest for the age group of 5 and 6-year-olds and ensure the camp counselors completely surround the pool.

While UNF didn’t go into detail about the incident, they did state that there are three lifeguards on duty for this age group and that there are 10 camp counselors who are Red Cross and First Aid certified.

Spinnaker has also reached out to Phillips for a statement saying that he will talk about the incident at a later time, but UNF is currently handling it to his satisfaction.

Spinnaker will update this story as more information becomes available.

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