A neighbor and friend of mine sent her first grader to camp at the Maryland Science Center, or as she refers to it now, the Maryland Shopping Center. Seems the campers are making regular visits to the gift shop.
Here's what the friend, Janine Holc, a political science professor at Loyola University, posted on Facebook:
"I am livid! Anthony is in a science camp at the Maryland Science Center. Just found out the counselors take the kids through the gift shop every day and urge them to buy toys. They told Anthony: 'Tell your mom to give you money to buy something.' He blurted out, 'My mom does not have any money.' All the other kids then teased him. WT[HECK]???????"
After I spotted Janine's post, I emailed her to ask if I could write about it on this blog. Janine asked me to wait until she'd had a chance to speak with the staff, just to make sure her son had the story straight. She wrote back this morning:
"It's true!!! I talked to the camp director. She did not get why I might complain -- she thought I was asking to have him taken to the gift store more often!!!! ... Then she said most parents give their kids a ton of money to spend at the gift shop. How depressing. I sent him today in an Angry Bird T Shirt."
I've put in a call to the Science Center but have not heard back. Maybe there's a reasonable explanation for Camp Gift Shop, such as, they're studying consumer science. If and when I hear from the museum, I'll update this post.