Summer Camps Reopen But Struggle to Find Counselors

Summer Camps Reopen But Struggle to Find Counselors

“They make a commitment, then they find out their friends are doing something else, or the job opportunities are ramping up,” he said. “Throw in the trauma of a year and a half of the Covid experience, and it undermines the sense of what matters. The commitment level is weaker. It’s all about me and how I’ve suffered so much in the past year and I need to take care of myself.”

Many camps have tapped into networks of former campers to fill vacant positions, or offered higher wages or time off to make the positions more appealing, said Michele Rowcliffe, executive director of the American Camp Association’s New England chapter.

It is nearly unheard-of for camps to shut down midseason — the financial fallout alone could be devastating — but this month, so far, the directors of three camps in the Northeast have made that decision.

Appel Farm Arts Camp, a camp in Elmer, N.J., notified families this week that late-summer sessions would be canceled. The camp offered refunds or alternative bookings at other camps. Staff was short in the kitchen, the facilities and among the cleaning teams, and food supply chain problems “made keeping camp open unsustainable,” Greg Orlandini, secretary of the Appel Farm board of trustees, said in a statement.

Some parents said they were supportive of the decision.

“There’s going to be angry parents, but I’m not going to be one of them,” said Nicole Warner, whose daughter Piper, 14, was planning to attend. Marybeth Boger, whose son Zamir, 11, was enrolled in a session later in the summer, said she commended the camp’s leaders for making a tough call.

“It takes a lot of courage and belief in what you do to say, ‘This year, it is not possible to provide the experience we want for your kids,’” she said.

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