BRYAN, Texas — Nationally there’s been a camp counselor shortage and Bryan is not immune. We spoke with Bryan Parks and Recreation to see how the shortage is affecting their summer and why you should consider being a counselor this summer.
“The most rewarding part of it for me personally, and what I try to get into the whole culture of our staff is every day knowing that you might be the greatest role model and person that kid may have in their life,” said Thomas Sanders, recreation supervisor for Bryan Parks and Recreation. “You never know what’s going on at home. You don’t know what that kid might be going through. It’s that back layer of it that maybe a 16-year-old doesn’t think about, but the biggest way for you to make an impact in your community right here in Bryan.”
While being a camp counselor has its rewards, Thomas says he is not seeing as many applications.
“In the typical year, I need to hire, let’s say, about 30 to 40 people extra of my returning staff and I’ve only had about 20-25 apply, 24 to be exact,” said Sanders. “It’s difficult and we want to make sure we have a highly qualified staff.”
Today, he has 27 applicants but still needs more to keep up with the demand during summer camp. Thomas needs about 18-20 more applicants to operate at full capacity.
“We average about 165 kids a day so [it's] really helpful for a lot of families and then Neal Recreation Center is about 150-160 kids per day,” said Sanders.
There are about six to eight kids per counselor, Thomas says. This means that if they are short on counselors, that’s additional families without childcare for the summer.
It's Montanna Ondrovich's second year as a counselor. She says the kids are the reason she keeps coming back.
“I feel like I’ve learned patience and a bunch of other things from the kids being here,” said Ondrovich. “I do want to see the kids that I saw last year because I grew close with them, and I missed seeing them.”
Lead counselor at Camp Hero, Hunter Vanetten, says his experiences here are memories he'll never forget.
“I make a different camp memory or like a good memory every summer because I get to meet new people, engage with them, see what they’re like; just make new friends every summer,” said Vanetten. It’s always exciting. You get multiple new skillsets you can carry on after college- whatever your field of work is. You learn a lot here.”
With summer camp starting May 31, starting next month, there is still a need for camp counselor applications to sustain the volume of kids they typically see during summer.
Jordan Driver is a lead counselor and shares why it’s the best job and why people may not be applying.
“I think it’s the most fun job you can have,” said Driver. “You get paid to be a kid as an adult...I think a lot of people would be super into it if they knew about it. They just don’t know that we do this. We’re fun. It’s a fun program. The kids are great. It’s a great environment to be in.”
Thomas says becoming a camp counselor offers you a flexible schedule, starting pay at $10 an hour, and the opportunity to help the community.
The summer camp program will last 10 weeks and operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
For more information on how you can become a counselor, Thomas says you can contact him directly via phone or email.
Phone: (979) 213-7061