It was supposed to be a fun week at summer camp. But a little boy told his mom camp was "a living hell." It's a story you heard first on FOX 5 and on Thursday, FOX 5 spoke exclusively to the angry mother of one of the campers.
She describes what happened at Camp Ernest W. Brown as "hazing." Her young son says camp is where you build campfires and sing songs. In his words, "this isn't camp."
"I absolutely feel guilty," said the mother.
She spoke to us by phone out of guilt and anger. She asked us to disguise her voice because she feels ashamed about what she says her 10-year-old son had to go through at summer camp.
"That was his first sleepaway camp experience ever," she said. "And I told him how exciting and fun it was going to be, and then he was basically terrorized for three and a half days."
She says it happened at Camp Brown in St. Mary's County, Md. The camp is run by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, but it's a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department.
The Boys and Girls Clubs abruptly closed Camp Brown last week for what they called "inappropriate fight club" behavior instigated by camp counselors.
"He told the [counselor], 'No, I can't fight,"' said the mother. "And [the counselor] told him he would teach him. In this training, he would tell my 10-year-old to put his hands up and then he would punch him in the chest and my son would fall to the ground crying. And he'd tell him, ‘Get up punk' and curse him."
She found out about it when she got a call informing her that all campers were coming home a day early.
"I was just so ashamed of myself," she said. "I just felt tricked and just incredibly angry that they would dare do that."
This mother says that what makes her feel even guiltier is that when she dropped her son off at Clubhouse 14 on Benning Road for that week of camp, she got a bad feeling based upon the behavior of some of the counselors.
"Cursing and using all kinds of lewd terms and just being vulgar. I should have ran," she said.
In a letter marked "Confidential," the Boys and Girls Clubs told parents Wednesday: "rest assured that, again, our top priority is the safety and well-being of your child..."
Some of the counselors at Camp Brown came from the city's Summer Youth Employment Program.
"Why doesn't a child have someone supervising them?" she asked. "They're children too. They're teenagers. Why were they unsupervised? How did they do all of that? How did you have a whole fight club for three days and no one knew it?"
FOX 5 has learned that some counselors have been fired. But that doesn't ease this mother's anger.
"You locked your little kid in a room with a thug for a week. That's basically what you're doing," she said.
We want to emphasize there are no accusations against MPD officers.
There is a criminal investigation into the actions of some counselors, but not all of them. That is being handled by Maryland State Police and St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office.