By STEVEN T. DENNIS
Participation in Washington County's summer day camp program has dropped more than 80 percent since the county began charging a fee three years ago.
The once-thriving recreational camp had 1,106 participants at 12 sites in 1994. Those numbers dropped to 833 youngsters and nine camps in 1995, and 519 youths and eight camps last year. So far, only 170 youngsters have registered for six camps this year, prompting recommendations that at least two more camps be cancelled for lack of interest.
County Recreation Superintendent Stacey McLeran, who oversees the program, said the main reason for the drop in attendance has been hikes in the fees charged. The camps were free in 1994, but the county imposed a $12 fee in 1995, a $36 fee in 1996 and a $90 fee this year in an effort to make the six-week program self-sufficient.