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Day camp staffing shortage hits Canmore

CANMORE – Like many other places in the Bow Valley, artsPlace is not immune to the ongoing staffing shortages. For the organization, the shortage is hitting the day camps that are held through the summer.
Canmore Civic Centre 1
Canmore Civic Centre on Thursday (April 21). JUNGMIN HAM RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – Like many other places in the Bow Valley, artsPlace is not immune to the ongoing staffing shortages.

For the organization, the shortage is hitting the day camps that are held through summer.

“The day camps are themed each week. We have coordinators and leaders who will plan activities based on those themes,” Shanon Fitzgerald, programs association for artsPlace said. “They will do visual arts activities, gameplay. We will go outdoors weather-permitting, and we will have guest artists drop in each week. So, there may be something special like painting or ceramics.”

Typically, seasonal staff is hired to help, who work from July to August.

“We are hoping to hire again for summer for those positions, but it is taking more time than usual,” Fitzgerald said.

The seasonal aspect of the work tends to focus on a particular demographic who already live in Canmore.

“It is unlikely that you can accommodate the cost of living of Canmore with seasonal employment,” Fitzgerald said.

Currently, there are three positions for seasonal staff but only one has been filled. Day camps officially started this week.

This situation is also something Fitzgerald has not seen in her time in the industry.

“Not in my personal experience with artsPlace or outside of artsPlace.”

Thankfully for the children who look forward to the day camps each year, they will run regardless of staffing levels.

“We are not planning to cancel this year,” Fitzgerald said. “We will just pivot as needed, maybe hire more guest artists, have some of our employees doing the teaching.”

The experience can be a very positive one for those who do work at the day camps through the summer, especially for individuals who want regular hours.

“It is absolutely fun and working with kids. We get to play games and do creative activities,” Fitzgerald said. “Hours are a benefit. It is regular hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., subject to change based on staffing. It is working with a small team, so it creates a close-knit team atmosphere.”

For anyone interested in working at the artsPlace day camps, you can visit www.artsplacecanmore.com or contact Fitzgerald at shanon@artsplacecanmore.com

artsPlace was not the only day camp provider hit by a staffing shortage this summer. The Town of Canmore, which runs its Big Fun Camps in July and August, was also dealing with staffing issues. The camps are run to provide families with children in Canmore childcare access during the summer break.

“We did find basically all the staff minus one. We did experience a slight reduction in staffing levels,” said Shaun Pearson, human resources advisor for the Town of Canmore. “What we did experience was it took us a long time to secure those staff.”

According to Pearson, staff for the day camps are typically hired two months prior to the July start date. This year, staff were hired only two weeks before the start date.

“It is minor in that there is a minimal service impact,” Pearson said. “It did require a lot of flexibility for the camp staff and administration staff to ensure the service to the communities were being met. It took a bit of juggling, but we made it work.”

Staff who work the camps, which run Monday to Friday during business hours until Aug. 26, are responsible for providing a fun and safe day camp experience for the participants.

“They plan and implement program itineraries that provide meaningful and age-appropriate activities for the children and youth,” Pearson said. “Their No. 1 priority is the supervision, safety and enjoyment of the participants.”

While the camp was unable to fill the last position, it won’t be hiring for that position now the day camps are about to begin.

“The day camps, we have closed the position. We are moving ahead in the roles.”