Parents bring attention to summer camp safety after 6-year-old daughter drowns

In 2019, 6-year-old Roxie Forbes attended her first summer camp in Southern California. Less than two weeks after it began, she drowned.

Now, her parents are fighting to change how summer camps are regulated so no one has to suffer tragedy like they did.

"I'll never forget my wife's scream when we arrived at the hospital, which was only 40 minutes after we dropped her off," said Doug Forbes, Roxie’s dad.


Before enrolling her in a camp, Roxie’s mom, Elena Matyas, asked a series of questions. But now she says it wasn’t enough.

"It's amazing that we hand our children off willy nilly to these people that we do not know," said Doug.

Elena and Doug started the Meow Meow Foundation to honor Roxie’s memory and teach what they believe camps don’t want parents to know.

"Most of these camps are inspected for building code reasons or structural local ordinance reasons, but they're not required to have emergency action plans," said Doug.

The day Roxie died, none of the camp counselors were trained to perform CPR and they didn’t have proper water safety training. They didn’t even know how many children were in the pool and they didn’t make sure Roxie, a non-swimmer, stayed by the steps.

"Another red flag is transparency. Does the camp allow parents to come on site… that's a way for them to control the environment and not allow you to see what actually goes on," said Elena and Doug.

In Illinois, camps are required to be licensed by the Department of Public Health. A list of camp violations, accidents and disease outbreaks is available upon request from IDPH.

However, it’s up to each camp to self-report these incidents to the state.

Illinois summer camps are required to check the sex offender registry each year when hiring staff. A minimum of one person, certified in American Red Cross First Aid, is required at the camp. And, a lifeguard with state mandated certification is also required.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says they inspect youth camps prior to opening and once during operation.

The camp where Roxie died never stopped operating.

To find out if your child’s camp has reported any violations, you can email

To see if a camp is licensed, you can go here:

However, IDPH says the list has not been updated yet with 2021 camps.

To view summer camp safety and drowning prevention information please check out the Meow Meow Foundation at