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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Olga and Travone Mister did not know until after their child drowned in July that summer camps in Missouri are completely unregulated.

These parents don’t just want to warn you, they also want to enlist you into action.

“I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other family,” Olga Mister said.

Her son TJ was just starting his third day at a summer camp on July 20 when he drowned in the Kennedy Recreation Complex Pool in South St. Louis County.

“We can’t turn on the news next time and see another kid has drowned or another kid has died due to unregulated camps,” she said.

Summer camps are exempt from childcare licensing, both in Missouri and Illinois. That means…

  • No required background checks
  • No requirement for the number of adults needed to supervise children
  • No required facility safety inspection, like daycares face

Olga said, “You were the one who brought light to it. We had no idea.”

Missouri addressed the summer camp licensing exemption just this year with Senate Bill 683, which broadens the type of programs exempt from childcare licensing.

Olga recently started a petition titled ‘Camps have to be regulated to keep our children safe.’ It asks for 1,000 signatures and she has nearly reached that goal.

“We’re going to keep going,” said Olga. “My son always said, ‘never give up,’ even if you’re sad.” She added, “We have to make a change.”

The Mister family is also holding a fundraiser and awareness event in November, featured in the flyer below with TJ’s picture.