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Summer Camp

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Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney announced on March 1 that Melanie I. Bergstedt, 47, of Commack pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree for allegedly embezzling approximately $250,000 from a local summer camp during the course of her employment there.

Melanie Bergstedt

“This defendant placed her own greed above the welfare of children by stealing money earmarked for a summer camp and pocketed it for her own personal use,” said District Attorney Tierney. “If you steal from local businesses, you are also harming the Suffolk County community at large. Accordingly, you will be held to account for your actions and legally forced to repay the money you stole.”

According to court documents and the defendant’s admissions during her guilty plea allocution, between 2016 and 2020, Bergstedt admitted she knowingly and intentionally stole money by diverting payments made by customers into other bank accounts during the course of her employment at the local summer camp, headquartered in Commack. The bank accounts were opened under similar names as the camp without the owner’s knowledge or permission in an effort to conceal the theft and to use those funds for her own personal benefit.

Bergstedt is required to pay restitution to the victim and if she does not, she faces up to three to 15 years in prison. She is due back in court for sentencing on May 8.

Criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusatory instruments. Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. No one is above the law.

Photo from WMHO

This summer, the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO)’s Summer of Science returns to the Edwin Ernst Marine Conservation Center at West Meadow in Stony Brook. These open-air outdoor programs emphasize hands-on exploration of plant and animals species along the shoreline, student driven research projects, and scavenger hunts to compare & contrast the marsh and sandy beach habitats. 

Salt Marsh Explorers (ages 6 to 9) runs from July18 to 22 and Salt Marsh Detectives (ages 10 to 12) runs from Aug. 15 to 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Salt Marsh Scientists (ages 13 to 17) runs from Aug. 1 to 5 from 10 am. to 2 p.m. Registration is required for these programs. Depending on the program, cost per child is $275 to $325.

To learn more about Summer of Science programs, register your child, and to learn more about the WMHO, call 631-751-2244.

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Camp councilors stood with 100 young people who participated in this year’s Summer Buddies camp, where NSYC officials said there were no recorded cases of COVID. Photo from NSYC

By Liam Cooper

The North Shore Youth Council, located in Rocky Point, recently finished their Summer Buddies five-week-long summer camp, which started July 13 and ended Aug. 14. 

And as students reenter schools for the first time since March, it could be small but pertinent example of how to host young people in a single place while halting the spread of COVID-19.

At the camp, kids participated in gym activities, movies, outdoor activities, games, arts and crafts, and playground activities. Despite having activities that required close contact, the camp was able to keep its doors open, even during the pandemic. The camp ran for three hours Monday through Friday for children ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade. 

During these difficult times, NSYC officials said they successfully executed the camp program, hosting over 100 kids with a total of zero COVID cases. 

“It was a tremendous success,” said Stephanie Ruales, the Director of Communications and Public Relations of the NSYC. “At first we had some parents that were hesitant and only signed their kids up for one week at a time. But then they signed up for more weeks, saying that their kids really enjoyed the camp.”

The camp made sure everything was according to New York State guidelines. Although the kids didn’t wear masks, they remained socially distant. All camp counselors and staff wore masks. 

All the participating children had to complete a daily COVID-19 health screening before entering along with daily temperature checks. To reduce contact between the kids, the campers would travel to different activities in smaller groups. Time indoors was also limited.

Camp counselors were also in charge of cleaning everything the kids touched.

“There were lots of hand sanitizers going around,” Ruales said. “It was important to us that everyone felt safe and important. We wanted parents to know exactly what was going on in the camp and that they could trust us with their kids for 3 hours.” 

NSYC officials also wanted to thank camp directors Nick Mitchko and Alexa Setaro for organizing everything and displaying that recreational activities, with regulations, can still potentially be enjoyed even during the pandemic.