I received the following Tweet on Monday morning:
“Seriously. If my kids don’t get into Pullen art camp and camp at Jaycee, I will have a rage blackout. #ITBproblems cc @WNFIV”
This is how I was alerted to what turned out to be a near riot over the City of Raleigh’s Summer Camp sign-up process. Apparently, the city offers summer camps for children from ages 3 to 16 in 36 locations in Raleigh. Parents were told that camp sign-up would be handled through a website that opened at 5:30 am on Monday morning. The website did its best Healthcare.gov impression and totally failed, crashing repeatedly and causing parents to lash out. Here is a brief sampling of the reaction: (these are real)
“Raleigh Parks and Rec has gone way downhill the last few years. Can’t say I’m surprised once again a major fail by them! I would not recommend them!”
“It was hung up, we HAD to cancel the transaction which logged us off. This is an AWFUL way to book camps!!!!”
“AWFUL. I was almost in tears at 5:50 AM on a Monday morning. My friends and I were in a text freak-out string. What is being done to fix and prevent it in the future? Would love to know.”
Hell hath no fury like an ITB mom text freak-out string. According to Andy Specht’s coverage, the city processed more than 8,000 summer camp registrations Monday morning, which caused the site to crash, resulting in a total panic among parents.
I totally understand the backlash. Having to deal with your kids during the summer is an ITB parent’s greatest fear. That’s why most parents send their kids to Camp Sea Gull or Seafarer for as long as they possibly can.
My first reaction to the news of the site being down was to view this as an opportunity. If I could log on to the site and reserve as many spaces as possible, I could then resell the spaces to parents who weren’t lucky enough to register. Basically I would create the Airbnb of summer camps.
I logged on and read through the camps and was dumbfounded. I figured these camps would consist of throwing some kids in a gym all day for dodgeball and limited water breaks. I had no idea how much time and effort the city puts into these. Below are just a few that I would sign up for if I hadn’t already aged out.
Bricks 4 Kidz – Jurassic Brick World with LEGO® Bricks
You’re about to enter Jurassic Brick Land! Build a world with LEGO4 Bricks that comes to life with a gentle Brontosaurus, ferocious Velociraptor, and terrible T. Rex.
Bricks 4 Kidz – LEGO® Bat League: Heroes and Villians!
Enter the dark city where a dangerous jokester and other evil villains wreak havoc. Thankfully there is a bat hero who comes out each night to fight against these evil-doers! Campers will improve their building skills and crime-fighting passion in this thrilling camp of bat heroes and villains!
Who done it? Campers will investigate a mock crime scene, finding clues through scavenger hunts, fun activities and discussions. They will use experimentation and forensic technology to explore, gather and analyze evidence to solve the mystery of the week. Campers will participate in a mock trial, acting as lawyers, judge and jury.
Holt Brothers Football Camp
Torry and Terrence Holt, former NC State and NFL football stars, will lead this one-week camp experience for boys AND girls interested in learning about sportsmanship and teamwork.
First of all, where were these camps when I was a kid? These sound incredible. Jurassic Park and Batman LEGOs that you get to keep at the end of the week, CSI: ITB and Law & Order: ITB Victims Unit rolled into one camp, and a football camp with former NFL players! I now see why parents had a full on meltdown over the possibility of not getting their kids into these camps.
Unfortunately, the registration wasn’t working for me either, which led to plan B. I would create my own summer camp where kids could come and learn how to run a media empire. At Finley’s Fun Work Camp, kids learn valuable life skills through the following activities:
Wash the Suburban, Tahoe, or Yukon – learn teamwork skills as you attempt to wash and detail these Wade Ave 500 road warriors.
Manage a LaCroix stand – not only are the profit margins huge at $5 per can, your little one will learn about supply and demand, managing inventory, sales, and marketing.
Constructing the downtown Raleigh canal – kids love heavy-duty construction equipment. So why not let them use it? Kids will have access to the finest heavy-duty equipment as they begin to dig out the canal.
Excavate Dix Park – we all know what lies beneath Dix Park. Let your kid be one of the first to uncover fossilized remains of the dinosaurs that used to roam these lands. (Any dino-DNA discovered during excavation will remain property of ITB Insider™ for future use in genetically engineering actual dinosaurs.)
Pick up my morning Rise biscuits and donuts so I won’t have to deal with the delays from road closures.
Just finished the Rise Challenge where you have to drive all over Raleigh to get to Rise because Hillsborough Street is blocked for the Krispy Kreme Challenge. @risecameronvillage . . . #rise #riseup #donuts #doughnuts #healthyfood #healthyeating #breakfast #biscuits #friedchicken #carbs #calories #local #eatlocal #shoplocal #raleigh #raleighnc #nc #northcarolina #startup #influencer #food #foodpic #photooftheday #photo
You’re probably thinking that all these activities are going to be super expensive. Fortunately, I figured out how to incorporate my sponsors to decrease the cost to campers. Snacks and lunch will be catered by 80Fresh and the SUV pick up and drop off lines will be brought to you by Thompson Buick GMC Cadillac. I’ll also be sure to use Walk West for my sign-up website so it won’t crash and cause an outrage. For just one case of LaCroix a day, you can sponsor a child to attend Finley’s Fun Work Camp.
My lawyer Stacy Miller, with Miller Law Group, said I’d be violating all sorts of child labor laws, no matter how silly and outdated they were. I suggested he represent the ITB parents who were unable to sign up for camp in a class action law suit against the city and let me take a referral fee for every client he got. He said that probably isn’t the best course of action.
Anyway, this was quite the fiasco. I fully expect the Holderni to do a parody video titled “Website Crashes” based on “Lightning Crashes” by Live.
Website crashes, a new mother cries,
Her Macbook Air falls to the floor…
I’ll let them take it from here. I’ve got to go to another ITBusiness meeting. Feel free to share your experience with signing up for summer camp in the comments.