Summer Camps Facing Staff Shortages, May Impact Programs this Summer

The summer season is just around the corner, which means summer camp for kids.

But just like other businesses this year, they’re facing a labor shortage, too.

“Our concern is we want enough staff for the kids who have said they are coming,” said Don Cochrane, Director of Operations and Programs at Center Lake Bible Camp in Tustin.

Last year, they didn’t hold their usual summer camp for 2nd through 12th graders because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Coming into this year, the way things used to be is not the way things are and we understand that,” said Cochrane.

And on top of changing guidelines for camps, they have to worry about finding staff for the summer, too.

“For our summer staff, it would be on a normal year between 25 and 30 [staff members],” said Cochrane.

This year, though, even with reduced camp numbers, they still only have 1/3 of their staff hired.

“With the way the pandemic has affected the economy, there are a lot of jobs available for young people that are going to pay a lot more than here,” said Cochrane. “People will be here because of the mission that we have, and we get to pay them what we can, but not in comparison to jobs they can get elsewhere.”

Cadillac Area YMCA’s Camp Torenta is facing the same issue. They have about 1/3 of their staff hired for the summer, too.

“We’re definitely behind where we normally would be,” said Mike Kelso, Executive Director and CEO of the Cadillac Area YMCA. “We start really in January, with this effort, then then it kind of goes down a little bit around spring break and end of semester exams, then we get a resurgence of looking for summer employment. That resurgence hasn’t been there as much this year.”

Camp Torenta is offering a $250 signing bonus to those hired to work this summer.

“If you’d asked me if we would offer $250 signing bonus for a seasonal seven week job a year or two ago, I would have just laughed and said no way,” said Kelso. “Obviously, times have changed.”

While camp doesn’t start for another month for both organizations, they’re already looking at the alternatives.

“On my girls side, I would have to be calling parents and telling them they can’t come to camp because we simply don’t have staff to handle the number of girls that are coming,” said Cochrane.

“We have plenty of housing, and the program can handle it, but we need people who want to be involved in kids lives,” he said.

Categories: Coronavirus