State Sen. Anthony J. Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced Senate Bill  955, the Roxie Rules Act, which seeks to regulate recreational camps in the wake of the drowning death of a 6-year-old girl.

The lack of regulation for these camps became known following the death of Roxie Forbes, who was attending Summerkids Camp in Altadena. In researching camp safety issues, the child’s parents, Doug Forbes and Elena Matyas, discovered that more 1 million children attend thousands of California camps and that these camps are largely unregulated.

Portantino agreed that under California law there exists a deficiency in camp licensing, inspection and oversight. The Forbes family established the Meow Meow Foundation to educate the public about this gap in oversight. 

“As a father myself, I cannot begin to comprehend what has happened to the Forbes family. Losing a child is the single worst thing that can happen to a parent. It hurts even more because we know that this was a preventable tragedy,” Portantino said.

“I am very grateful that Roxie’s family is channeling their tremendous grief to make sure that tragedies such as this do not happen again. I want to commend them for all the work they have done to raise awareness and knowledge of the gaps in state law regarding recreational camps,” Portantino said.

California trails behind many other states in regulating recreational camps. Thirty-eight states have some sort of statewide camp regulations while California does not. This bill will correct this clear omission in state law and bring camps in line with other regulated services such as daycare facilities.

“Meow Meow Foundation is honored to work with Sen. Anthony Portantino on The Roxie Rules Act, a comprehensive recreational camp licensing, oversight, and safety bill that finally affords millions of California children the protections they deserve,” added Doug Forbes, who wrote about the tragedy for this paper and currently contributes to the news website Pasadena Now.

SB 955 will be heard in its first Senate policy committee in March.