Granite Gorge

The former Granite Gorge summer camp has been fined for violations.

ROXBURY — The owner of the now-defunct Granite Gorge summer camp is getting hit with a possible $24,000 fine for the violations that shut down the camp and resulted in a defamation lawsuit.

A letter to owner Fred Baybutt, on file with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services which oversees summer camps, lists 12 separate violations found at the camp. The violations range from not having complete background checks done on camp counselors, to not following requirements for handing medications for the campers.

Each alleged violation carried a $2,000 fine, for a $24,000 total. Emily Jones, with New Hampshire’s DES, said Baybutt has until July 12 to respond to the state and request a hearing on the proposed fines.

Baybutt can either request a hearing, pay the fine, or contact DES to work out an alternate resolution to the case, Jones said.

Complaints about the camp started coming into the state soon after the camp opened in June of last year, according to the DES document. Campers were allegedly swimming without lifeguards, and campers were found to be suffering from sunburns and heat exhaustion, according to one parent complaint.

A state inspection at the camp on July 3 found violations, and it found that the camp had two directors, a 17-year-old and a 21-year-old. Baybutt was given time to correct the issues, and he reportedly hired a 36-year-old to be the director for the camp. On July 27, state officials found out the new director had quit, and a new complaint was sent in about the campers being allowed to play in a river while watched by two counselors under the age of 18.

“The complainant was also concerned for the health and safety of the children at Granite Gorge camp asserting that there was a bee’s nest at the camp that had not been removed, and that there was an open well shaft at the camp, covered only by rotting boards,” the violation letter states.

That’s when DES officials moved to have the camp shut down.

A Nelson mother of four, Nicole Hutchins, sued Baybutt in small claims court seeking a $2,100 refund. Baybutt responded by suing her for $10,000 for complaining about the conditions at the camp to the state and the press.

Last month, Judge James Gleason ruled after a hearing in the 8th Circuit Court in Keene that Baybutt was not entitled to the $10,000, as his defamation claim lacked credible proof. Gleason also ruled that Baybutt did not have to pay the $2,100 refund to Hutchins, as the contract she signed included a cancellation policy that governed refunds.

If Baybutt fails to respond to the state by July 12, a hearing will be scheduled anyway, Jones said. Baybutt is not holding a summer camp this year at the property.

Sunday, October 20, 2019