YMCA reduces capacity, cancels Hamilton summer camp for kids due to staffing shortages

Close to 600 Hamilton kids had to be dropped from YMCA camps in 2022 due to seasonal staffing shortages. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steve Ruark

The YMCA of Hamilton-Burlington-Brantford has reduced capacity at a pair of its summer camps and cancelled another amid recent workforce challenges.

Spokesperson Kyla Kumar told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton the agency is short some 40 workers precipitating the mothballing of a camp earmarked for Allan A. Greenleaf Elementary School in Waterdown.

“Typically, we would hire in the summer at our day camps, about 145 staff,” Kumar said.

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“We’re sitting at 104 right now, and so we’ve had to make this decision to reduce capacity at two of them and cancel one at Allan A. Greenleaf.”

Tansley Woods Community Centre in Burlington and Camp Chippewa at Christie Lake Conservation Area in Dundas are the camps affected by capacity changes.

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The YMCA exec said “staffing was in place” at one point this year but dropped due to a couple of trends that have seen staff opt out.

“One of them is that many offers that we put out there, about 25 in fact, and individuals elected to decline them for potentially other alternative opportunities,” Kumar said.

“Then we had about 19 people who accepted offers and ultimately resigned due to other factors, maybe other opportunities.”

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Kumar said the employment pool has been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not running in 2020 and executing smaller camps in 2021 shortened the list of available qualified candidates for positions.

“We have our leadership and training program, for example. That’s really about building the foundational skills to come work in camps if you choose to do so. That hasn’t run in two years,” Kumar said.

Summer camp capacity at the YMCA has now been reduced by about 31 per cent or about 593 children who had been registered for summer camp.

Those hundreds must either find an alternative or not go to a camp.

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Families last to register were the ones scratched from the list, according to Kumar. The action was necessary due to safety and the quality of programming.

“What we have said to families that were impacted is that we’re still recruiting,” Kumar said.

“If we’re able to see more people join the YMCA as employees, we’ve put them on a waitlist … and they will be the first that we call to bring back to programs.”

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