Michael Finkelstein lives in Green Valley, Arizona, where he and his wife retired.
He is also an amateur musician. He plays the trumpet and he has fond memories of attending Jazz Camp in Killington, Vermont, 15 years ago.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” he said Tuesday.
So, when he learned in April that Jazz Camp – operated by Camp for Grownups, which also runs a ballroom dancing camp –would be held at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, he called to make reservations.
He was told they could fit him in if he paid the full $1,500 – which included board and some meals – up front.
Then, last Sunday, Finkelstein received an email from the camp director, Byron Siegal.
Siegal wrote he had run out of money and was unable to get loans or to sell the camp, and as a consequence the 2019 camp had to be canceled.
“We thought we had the problem solved at the end of June with a prospective buyer, but after about a week, that buyer withdrew his offer. Immediately after that, we attempted to sell the camp to other possibly interested parties and had one possibility which did not come to fruition as of last Friday. So we are left with a situation where approximately $115,000 is needed to run the camp this summer and no place to get it,” Siegal writes.
Efforts to reach Siegal and Camp for Grownups by phone were futile, as no one answered and the voice mailbox was full.
People at the Crowne Plaza have likewise been unable to contact camp officials.
Michelle Dallaire, the Crowne Plaza’s director of sales, said Wednesday the hotel learned by email from one of the registrants that the camp was canceled last week. She said that the camp had “blocked out” a number of rooms that will now go unused.
“It’s a loss at our end,” she said.
The email Finkelstein received does address the question of refunds, saying none are available at this time.
“I personally have a 250k whole life insurance policy and I will prepare a trust for the deposits that you have made, so that you are guaranteed of getting your money back at least at some day in the future. It is my intention to continue to attempt to sell the camp, its assets and its history and website and also the website for Jazz Camp EUL. If a buyer can be found, then you will receive your deposits more quickly. I also intend to set up a fund from my earnings to refund your moneys but that will take 3-5 years,” Siegal writes.
Finkelstein was looking forward to going back to camp and the arrangement really worked out, as he and his wife would also get to see their grandchildren in East Greenwich. Finkelstein figured his wife would be with the kids while “I was going to become a kid again.”
The Finkelsteins are still planning to visit Rhode Island, but Jazz Camp isn’t on the itinerary.