HARRISBURG — A Montgomery County-based company that operates summer camps in Pennsylvania and four other states has committed to refunding tuition to consumers who paid them before the pandemic forced emergency declarations and closures, according to state officials.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced on Monday that his office entered into a settlement with ESF Inc., doing business as ESF Camps, under which ESF Camps has committed to refund all of the money following a short payment plan for those who opted for a refund in June.
“When the emergency declaration hit, I promised that we would protect consumers, and I pledged my office would work with companies before taking legal action. This settlement is a good example of this,” Shapiro said. “My office worked with the company to return to parents all of the money they paid to have their kids enjoy these camps. The company’s cooperation is appreciated, and it should be an example for others.
“My office will take whatever action necessary to make sure consumers are getting a fair shake,” Shapiro added.
ESF Camps is registered as a Pennsylvania corporation with an address of 750 E. Haverford Road in Bryn Mawr, according to court papers. The company operates camp programs at 11 sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and New York, according to court papers.
The company’s 2020 camp programs included mini camp, day camp, sportslab, tennis camp, senior camp, specialty major camps and academic programs.
Documents filed in Montgomery County Court indicate that on May 22, “as a result of both unprecedented safety challenges arising from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and operational limitations imposed by state and local authorities,” ESF sent an email to enrolled consumers advising them of its decision to cancel 2020 summer onsite programs.
The Office of Attorney General announced in May that while the public health emergency has been difficult for Pennsylvania families and businesses alike, consumers are entitled to a refund of their deposits and payments if a camp would not be operating this past summer.
The assurance of voluntary compliance will be filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Shapiro said.
Under the agreement, the company must honor all promises and agreements made in all of its communications with consumers related to cancellations and refunds, according to court papers.