On March 28, Beth Stare called the RoundTable to say she was concerned about a game called Mafia-Angel that had been played at the day camp at Ridgeville Park District on March 25 and 26 in a program for 6-11 year olds. In the game, a camp counselor who was still in high school played the role of the Mafia.
Ms. Stare directed the RoundTable to a Facebook post in which she describes the game played on March 25: “One by one each child was told a detailed often gruesome and violent story about how they ‘died’ until a survivor remains. My daughter was chased by a 12-foot scary clown into an elevator where the clown bashed her head in with a hammer. My son was swimming in a river when three men pulled him out and stabbed him with knives and bashed him into the sand. My kids said they didn’t want to play, but they were told they had to sit in the circle or else ‘We’ll call your mom.’”
Ms. Stare said she told the camp supervisor the next morning that she thought the game was not appropriate for elementary students, and the supervisor agreed it was not appropriate for young kids, but said older kids like the game. Ms. Stare said she thought her kids would not be included in the game on March 26, but her son was.
Brian Rosinski, Director of Parks and Recreation at Ridgeville, and Natalie Sallee, Program Director, told the RoundTable the game was a “mistake.” In a post to Ridgeville’s Facebook page, they said, “We missed the mark in a big way today, and for that we apologize. Ridgeville staff prides itself on creating fun, creative outlets for children in our community. When you trust us with your children, whether it be in class, as a camper or even as a camp counselor, it is our top priority to keep them – above all else – safe. This not only means safe physically, but safe mentally and emotionally as well.”
Ms. Sallee told the RoundTable she talked to staff and was told that Mafia-Angel had been played in different variations in the past, sort of like a murder-mystery, but that on March 25 and 26, it “took a gorier turn.” The violent scenarios used in the game last week were not provided by Ridgeville to the counselor, she said.
Ms. Sallee said the game was stopped and not played on March 27 after it was brought to her attention, and that it would not be played again in any form – with any age group at Ridgeville. Mr. Rosinski confirmed that Mafia-Angel was gone.
Mr. Rosinski said camp staff will be trained that violence, in any form – including game form – will not be tolerated at Ridgeville.
Ms. Sallee said she was glad that Ms. Stare reached out and raised her concerns. “It allowed us to be agents for change to benefit the community,” she said.
Mr. Rosinski and Ms. Sallee said Ridgeville has many programs that have benefited kids and the community for many years, and they each look forward to improving and enhancing their services.