In the 1967 movie classic Cool Hand Luke comes that famous line used by the Captain, played by Strother Martin: "What we've got here is failure to communicate."

It's the perfect application for the Baker Administration and the Department of Public Health, seeing how they dropped the ball to give the Massachusetts Camping Association an advanced warning that their decimated season would become vaporized because of COVID-19.

The association represents day and overnight camps that weren't told of the last-minute changes in guidelines of Phase 3, and who were hoping to open this week. Instead of responding directly to the association, the Baker Administration sent a last-minute statement saying that it had revised its decision based on the best intentions of keeping the public safe. Just like that and at the drop of a hat, an entire industry is brought to its knees without warning.

Other states gave overnight camps at least a month's notice about what to expect and when, but Massachusetts gave no new guidance as of Sunday, the day before overnight camps were scheduled to reopen on Monday.

The thousands of disappointed kids and the thousands of dollars wasted just to get the camps ready for occupancy is dizzying, not to mention the dilemma parents of the children are facing now that there's no place for the kids who won't be attending overnight camp.

In the weeks before, the association reached out to the officials many, many times and were met with crickets. I'm stunned at this lack of communication from the state. They didn't even get a phone call or email about it. Camps stand to lose about $450 million this summer and over a third of them may not survive.

What oxygen is to life, communication is to leadership. There's absolutely no excuse for the Baker Administration and the DPH not to consult and at least warn the camps of their closure.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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