By: Robert Garrison
ESTES PARK, Colo. – The YMCA of the Rockies’ Estes Park Center touts on its website it offers “a wholesome, spiritual environment where families, friends and groups will be inspired by nature.” But Douglas County school officials and parents say their students’ recent stay at the Estes Park lodge was far from a “wholesome” experience.
Highlands Ranch parents are upset after they say their children were exposed to bed bugs and drug paraphernalia during a school-sponsored trip to the Estes Park center earlier this week. The infestation prompted school officials to cut the trip short.
Saddle Ranch Elementary 6th graders participating in the outdoor education program arrived at the YMCA of the Rockies’ Estes Park Center Tuesday morning. The students and accompanying school staff were scheduled to stay in quarters called the Rainbow Lodge at the center, according to Dave DeLuca, the director of the Estes Park YMCA.
When students arrived at the lodge, they encountered rooms in disarray and an exterminator who showed them signs of a significant bed bug presence, DeLuca wrote in a letter he sent to parents. The exterminator was on scene because previous guests of Rainbow Lodge had complained to YMCA staff that they were affected by the bugs, DeLuca said.
According to DeLuca, when school staff, armed with digital photos of the infestation, approached the front desk about different accommodations, they were told that couldn’t be done, and that Rainbow Lodge would be ready for the students shortly. But after continued discussion, YMCA staff ultimately agreed to relocate the students to a different lodge.
However, when Estes Park staff and school personnel inspected the new rooms offered to the students, they found dead bed bugs and several hypodermic syringes, a small spoon and a prescription drug wrapper under a mattress at the lodge, DeLuca wrote.
Larimer County Sherriff deputies were called after the discovery of drug paraphernalia. However, DeLuca admitted YMCA staff were initially hesitant to call authorities.
“YMCA staff was immediately called to come to the building, where they took possession of the materials. It was observed by school personnel that our staff did not seem confident in the proper handling of such items,” wrote DeLuca.
The incidents were more than enough for school personnel, and they cut the trip short, leaving the next day. The school was given a full refund and parents were informed of the situation at the lodge through DeLuca’s letter.
DeLuca apologized to parents and said he would be meeting center staff to review practices and procedures to ensure the issues the students encountered would not happen again.