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Camp Counselors turn Boxing Promoters

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ROCKY M0UNT, Va. (Reuters) - Prosecutors accused three teen-age boys on Thursday of promoting fist fights between boys who were in their care at a summer camp and charging other campers admission to watch the boxing matches.

Franklin County prosecutor Cliff Hapgood said the charges against the three volunteer counselors at the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H camp included assault and battery, child abuse, disorderly conduct and felonious bodily injury.

"We haven't found anything like this before," Hapgood told a news conference in Rocky Mount, about 150 miles southwest of Richmond, Virginia. "I'm sure there have been fights between campers, but nothing like this."

The fights on July 2-3 involved eight boys aged between 10 and 12 at the camp run by 4-H, a nonprofit group that promotes rural values and agricultural lifestyles.

Quoting witnesses, Franklin Sheriff W.Q. Overton said the counselors, aged between 15 and 16, had charged $1 admission and placed bets on the outcomes.

One young boy forced to fight fractured a wrist, and the fights came to light after a parent complained that his son came home from camp with a black eye and a tale about being forced to fight five times by counselors.

Complaining to his parents, the boy said those who did not want to fight were sent to their rooms. Some others did not find out they were picked to fight until the last moment when they were expected to enter the ring.

Hapgood would not say how the fights took place at the camp, which employed 22 adult volunteers and paid staffers and 50 teen counselors.

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