Summer camps in Maine struggle to find camp counselors amid high demand

School’s out and Maine’s summer camp season is in full swing, but this year, it’s not all friendship bracelets and swimming. “We have about 70 staff right now, which, if you looked at it purely numbers-wise, it looks like we’re perfectly on target, but we have a waitlist with hundreds of people on it and we can not add anybody else unless we get more staff, “said Camp Ketcha director Kara Larochelle. Camp Ketcha in Scarborough is roughly 15 camp counselors shorts so they’re not operating at full capacity. For the past two years, they’ve operated with reduced numbers because of COVID -19, accepting fewer campers and hiring half the workers. “We’re kind of starting from scratch again,” Larochelle said. “We used to have a pretty high return rate and it’s just coming from a smaller pool now.” The camp hadn’t experienced staffing shortages prior to this year. They used to rehire about 70% of their counselors and had no problem reaching their goal of staffing enough workers to accommodate 350 campers. Now, Larochelle has to turn away hundreds of parents who are looking for summer camp openings. “I get calls pretty regularly saying – my day care is closing in a week; I need something, “Larochelle said.” Which sounds awful to go through as a parent. ” For many parents, summer camp replaces school or day care, providing safe and fun child care during their summer work weeks. “Especially as a day camp, we’re essentially functioning as a child care,” Larochelle said. “People do not send their kids here for a month at a time; they need to come here so their parents can go to work.” “The camp has increased their starting salaries across the board and hopes that more people will apply. They do not require any prior child care experience. Workers there say counselors get to work with great kids all while doing everything from archery to horseback riding.” Even on a challenging day, a day where it feels like things are going wrong – you look out on the field and the kids are so happy and fun, “Larochelle said.If you’re interested in applying you can do so on their website : Employment Opportunities | Camp Ketcha | Scarborough Maine (ketchaoutdoors.org)

School’s out and Maine’s summer camp season is in full swing, but this year, it’s not all friendship bracelets and swimming.

“We have about 70 staff right now, which, if you looked at it purely numbers-wise, it looks like we’re perfectly on target, but we have a waitlist with hundreds of people on it and we can not add anybody else unless we get more staff, “said Camp Ketcha director Kara Larochelle.

Camp Ketcha in Scarborough is roughly 15 camp counselors shorts so they’re not operating at full capacity. For the past two years, they’ve operated with reduced numbers because of COVID-19, accepting fewer campers and hiring half the workers.

“We’re kind of starting from scratch again,” Larochelle said. “We used to have a pretty high return rate and it’s just coming from a smaller pool now.”

The camp hadn’t experienced staffing shortages prior to this year. They used to rehire about 70% of their counselors and had no problem reaching their goal of staffing enough workers to accommodate 350 campers.

Now, Larochelle has to turn away hundreds of parents who are looking for summer camp openings.

“I get calls pretty regularly saying – my day care is closing in a week; I need something, “Larochelle said.” Which sounds awful to go through as a parent. ”

For many parents, summer camp replaces school or day care, providing safe and fun child care during their summer work weeks.

“Especially as a day camp, we’re essentially functioning as a child care,” Larochelle said. “People do not send their kids here for a month at a time; they need to come here so their parents can go to work.”

The camp has increased their starting salaries across the board and hopes that more people will apply. They do not require any prior child care experience. Workers there say counselors get to work with great kids all while doing everything from archery to horseback riding.

“Even on a challenging day, a day where it feels like things are going wrong – you look out on the field and the kids are so happy and fun,” Larochelle said.

If you’re interested in applying you can do so on their website: Employment Opportunities | Camp Ketcha | Scarborough Maine (ketchaoutdoors.org)

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