Camps in the Ozarks struggle with staff shortages

Summer camp is something kids look forward to every year, but this year’s camp may look a little different thanks to staff shortages.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 5:31 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Summer camp is something kids look forward to every year, but this year’s camp may look a little different thanks to staff shortages.

The Springfield Greene County Park board Is operating at 75% capacity for the SPARC Camps due to the lack of staff. Specialty camps like farm parks or equestrian camps are fully staffed, but those are much smaller camps.

“Everything is full,” said Jenny Filmer Edwards with the Springfield Greene County Park Board. “We have waiting lists for all of our camps. We could use more camp counselors so that we can expand our operation. It feels like a regular camp. We could make it a little bit bigger if we had more staff.”

Boy scouts are hosting Camp at Camp Arrowhead this year but are depending on troop leaders for extra help.

“Six weeks ago, I needed 22 more staff members, and at that point, we started reaching out to our scoutmasters and the scout leaders that are coming in,” said John Feick, CEO of the Ozark Trails Council. “The things we teach here at camp and the camp setting, troops do on their own as well. They might teach wood carving, or they might teach canoeing are those classes. We have pretty much subject matter experts in our troops that will be here in camp with us. Without those scout leaders at camp with us, we will be challenged to offer a good quality program.”

Feick says he has spent more time trying to find staff this year than in the past. This year several counselors are starting their first job at camp.

“A lot of them are younger and maybe a little less experienced than we would normally have, but one of the good things for us is that when our troops come to camp, we’ll probably have 50 to 60 adult scout leaders that will come with them,” said Feick. “When we need somebody to help teach first aid and maybe a more experienced person, I guarantee you there’s a couple of guys or men or women in that group that can help us do that.”

Girl Scouts will not have residential or overnight camps this year due to the lack of employees. The press releases states

“Girl Scouts summer camp requires many, many resources to run safely. Due to a severe staffing shortage, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our resident camp opportunities. Our top priority is always the safety of our girls. Without a full, qualified staff, we are unable to provide the safe, fun, and enriching experiences as previously planned.“

While the Girl Scouts do not have an overnight camp, there are several day camp opportunities for girls to learn and explore the outdoors and learn new skills.

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