As Missoula schools wrap up for summer, working parents seek childcare options, such as summer camps. However, these camps face difficulties in recruiting both part-time and full-time counselors to accommodate the demand.

There are a wide variety of childcare programs in Missoula such as Boys and Girls Club, Parks and Rec, and Camp Fire. However, all have faced challenges in finding both full-time and part-time employees.

The Director's "Balancing Act"

Director of Camp Fire, Heidi Hedahl, explained that she needs 13 full-time counselors, but right now Camp Fire’s summer camp only has nine full-time and 10 part-time. “Some weeks are going to be great and some weeks are going to be stressful because some weeks everyone will show up, but then you’ll have weeks where people are on trips or someone gets sick,” Hedahl explains.

Hedahl said that in this economy the distribution of funding is like a “balancing act.” Since Camp Fire is a non-profit organization they have funding to have their starting pay at 13 dollars. She said that people come in asking to work two days a week and then ask for 16 dollars an hour. She wishes she could give all her employees 20 dollars an hour, but there are other costs when running a summer camp. Hedahl has to change budgets as the cost of everything goes up.

The Impact on Children and the Community

“The more consistent schedule, the more consistent the routine, and children thrive off of routine,” she said. When part-time counselors change their availability every week it changes the routine for the campers because they won’t know who to expect giving directions. Hedahl explains counselors can become “their person” which means that a counselor can become the child’s favorite. When the routine changes and “their person” isn’t there that day it also messes with the child’s routine.

When people step into a camp counselor role they are not only supervising the children, but they also build a connection and have an impact on the children. Counselors develop leadership skills not only to mentor children but also with fellow counselors. Being a counselor is a rewarding summer job that helps the community. To apply for summer camp counselor positions visit Camp Fire's career tab, or search for Parks and Rec and Boys and Girls Club on Indeed.

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