Staff Makes Your Program. Recruitment Strategies Are Key!


Recruiting and finding the right staff is key to a quality program. When you have this in place, your enrollment will continue to grow, and retention of campers will be strong. As a parent, I love to know that my child knows someone at camp. Besides the friends she makes, nothing makes you happier to hear how much she loves the teacher, counselor, or instructor. It is not easy finding great staff to work with children. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, this isn’t a joke job. These staff are learning serious professional job and life skills each day. We are also living in a world, where these teens are connected to their cell phone or computer all the time. Many forms of communication are not done in person, they are done through texting. The face to face communication and learning to work together is a huge skill that you will have to teach this new group of staff coming up. So how do you find the best staff besides just posting the job online? Make sure you mention the true value of working as a counselor and at the YMCA. What are the benefits besides getting paid?

I have listed a few things that I have done or stolen from other people. The key thing is to remember what it is like to be 16 or young again. Give them time to apply, get the position out there early, and this will also give you time to do some of these ideas below!

  1. Get away from your desk/computer, and go talk to them in person. Visit local schools. Talk to the career counselor and get them your information, student council/clubs, table in parking lot at Lunch if they leave school to eat or outside cafeteria if they stay on campus, and any other teacher/current staff you can talk to that will help promote the job.
  2. Visit local church youth groups or Young Life if you have a chapter in your area. These have great teens, and also keep in mind that not all teens go to public schools.
  3. If you have a YMCA facility, advertise to your membership. Many parents have neighbors or teens of their own looking for jobs. Put up flyers, have a recruitment table in your lobby like you would do at a school.
  4. Talk to your staff. Give them flyers, have them talk to their friends. Some of your staff are in college, even though it is not close to your YMCA, they may reach someone that lives in your area. If you don’t communicate the job, they will not know it is an option.
  5. Use your personal and program social media platforms. Advertise to your networks, it takes one time for someone to scroll and share the post with someone. When you are using social media, try and use a picture of your actual camp like I did in this post. Let the applicant see the fun that is actually happening.
  6. Try and setup group interviews. Many times in jobs, you may never hear back or get an interview. With group interviews, everyone gets a chance to be interviewed. Even if they don’t get the job, you are using your platform to train them and get them ready for their next step.
  7. Have an incentive plan. If we hire 1-2 of your friends, you can earn swag or something fun. I would have never worked at the YMCA if my friend didn’t tell me about it.

Parents choose and return to camp because of the staff. If they have a great experience, they are likely to come back. Many of the surveys I see are parents shouting out specific staff members they really loved. You can spend all the money you want on supplies, but if you don’t have the right people executing those games/programs, you just have a camp that looks good. That will get old very quickly for your parents and especially your campers.

I often hear or have seen from other colleagues that I don’t have enough time in my day to do these recruiting ideas. Many of these are not executed during your After School program time, they are done early or in the middle of the day. You can make time, and more importantly you need to make time. As you have seen in this post, staff is key to everything. I have also heard, how do you hire young high school staff? They seem to be too young or immature for the role. Actually, I have seen the opposite. It is all in how you hire, and then train that staff member. Just because you are in college/older, doesn’t always guarantee that they will be more mature or a better staff member.

Feel free to email and share any of your ideas to me around recruitment and finding the best staff. I will post this on my website in the Resource Zone. I will do a post in a few weeks on why an enrollment/marketing plan is important, and then also how to lead the best staff trainings since you have hired these new all stars. Summer 2020 is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Take it one step at a time, and make sure you are getting prepared early!


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