Ep. 32: Doug Forbes & Elena Matyas | Camp Accountability
Summer camps should be filled with worry-free joy; however, tragic stories of abuse, accidents and even loss of life, plague our inboxes. The issue of summer camp safety is near and dear to our hearts here at crime stoppers because we successfully partnered with Representative Murphy to get a summer camp safety bill passed in Texas in 2019.
This week on The Balanced Voice we sit down with Doug Forbes and Elena Matyas whose six-year-old, Roxie Forbes, tragically drowned at a camp in California in the summer of 2019. After her death, the California Department of Social Services determined the camp to be an illegal child care facility with fraudulently certified lifeguards. In this episode, we discuss the dangers that can arise at summer camps and the lack of oversight of camp facilities. Ultimately we answer this question:
What should parents take into consideration before choosing a summer camp?
More about Doug Forbes & Elena Matyas:
Doug and Elena's lives were turned upside-down after the loss of their beloved daughter, Roxie. Doug Forbes is a former marketing executive who advised tech giants in brand initiatives. He completed a master’s in journalism at Harvard, December 2020. Forbes is President of Meow Meow Foundation, a 501(c)(3) focused on water and camp safety following his 6-year-old daughter Roxie’s preventable drowning at summer camp. Elena Matyas is a seasoned attorney with one of the world's largest media companies, and Roxie's mom. Matyas serves as Secretary-Treasurer of Meow Meow Foundation and is dedicated to protecting other children from suffering Roxie's fate.
Roxie lived with a rare immunodeficiency disorder called Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) that made her immune system very weak. Despite her condition, Roxie was encouraged by her doctors to do what other kids did. She ran, jumped, danced, sang, traveled, learned, splashed around in the Pacific and the Atlantic, and she drove us nuts with her willfulness. Normal stuff. Growing up stuff.
Doug and Elena say the best part of Roxie was her "pee-in-your-pants sense of humor, especially because she used it to help other children—and adults—get out of their own funk."
Before her death, Roxie's health was improving by leaps and bounds. She was excelling at school, making many friends, and learning to swim and ride a bike. The loss of Roxie was a loss that no parent should ever have to endure and one that was completely preventable.
Resources & Links
Doug and Elena founded the Meow Meow Foundation which publishes resources for parents and caregivers to ensure children's safety, including this comprehensive list of questions to consider before sending precious cargo off to camp. Simply because a family member or friend refers a camp does not guarantee that the camp complies with essential health and safety standards. Find out more about he Meow Meow Foundation HERE!
Thank you for following along with The Balanced Voice. The views expressed in each episode are those of the podcast guest and do not necessarily represent the views of The Balanced Voice or Crime Stoppers of Houston.
Thank you to our Episode 32 Sponsors, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, Hallie Vanderhider, Sippi and Ajay Khurana, and Deep Water Productions.