Summer camp fun takes a turn
It’s a plot line right out of a summertime horror film: Kids playing in a park happily until the monster arrives. In this case, the children were part of a summer camp experience hosted by the Bethlehem NAACP. It was the organization‘s first time offering the camp for young people ages 5 – 18 at Saucon Park on Williams Street in Bethlehem.
The monster itself didn’t show up at the camp, but it left its droppings: the head of a dark-skinned baby doll ripped from its body and impaled on a stick.
The head was found by one of the campers in a muddy parking area near the pavilion rented for the camp. The rest of the doll’s body was found in a trash can nearby.
Bethlehem NAACP president Esther Lee said the boy who found the doll was frightened by the incident.
Lee said she is suspicious of the intent of the act. “I do think it was deliberate. Things seem to be reverting to the way it was - people doing hateful things to others,” Lee said in a telephone interview, and telling another Valley newspaper, “We’ve come from hanging people now and transitioned over to doing hate in another fashion.”
Lee called the act cowardly.
Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said it was “disgusting and despicable.”
Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime and are asking for help from park neighbors who might have seen someone in the park prior to the start of camp Aug. 2.
Prior to the incident, instructors and educators were onhand for the various sessions offering learning and fun activities.
Morning sessions opened with a brief welcome to a new day by Laura Lawrence, Bethlehem NAACP treasurer. Then Tomacene Nickens, Bethlehem NAACP’s second vice president, spoke about the history of the NAACP.
Retired Montclair University professor and former Bethlehem Area School District teacher Dr. Wandalyn Enix presented black history.
Stephen Lawrence, who most recently taught high school in South Korea and kindergarten in Macau, China, presented topics that stimulated youthful imagination, arts and crafts projects provided by Jessica Lee, Bethlehem NAACP secretary.
The Canine Unit of the Bethlehem Police Department was on hand for a presentation and Grace Spruiell led a sing-along. Randy Padfield organized games and the Bethlehem Health Bureau offered useful information.
“The three-day camp was enjoyed by everyone, youth and adults alike,” said Esther M. Lee, Bethlehem NAACP president, despite the doll head incident. “We are going to plan for another camp session next year.” The improvement of education for today’s youth is a major goal of the organization, according to Lee.