Seasonal recruiting is one of the toughest challenges for companies across the country. Camps are unique because most of their hires happen right before the summer season. Camp staffers have to rapidly hire, onboard, and train workers. Being understaffed can cause many cascading issues like bringing in fewer children and lost revenue. After a pretty challenging year for camps, we are excited to see this business coming back. Today we will discuss some of the challenges camp recruiters face and some tips to help you bring in more recruits.
Challenges With Camp Recruiting
So, let’s start with the challenges that camp recruiters face. The hiring process in the camps industry is very consolidated. You have to quickly recruit, hire, and onboard dozens (or hundreds) of camp staff. It can be challenging to keep up with hiring demands, especially if you aren’t getting enough talent to fill your hiring pool.
You aren’t hiring any person; you are hiring people who need to have clean histories and the ability to teach children fun (but sometimes dangerous) skills like horseback riding, swimming, climbing, etc. There is so much liability in the camping industry, and hiring the right people greatly reduces that risk.
So, camp staffers often deal with a lot of paperwork and headaches trying to find the right people. Reputations, safety, and your community’s children are all top of mind when it comes to camp recruiting.
Go Where Your Ideal Workers Are
As you think about the challenges and issues of camp recruiting, it’s important to remember one thing: go where your ideal workers are. It can be easy to get sidetracked by all the bells and whistles of job boards and recruiting events. If your ideal workers aren’t frequenting those places, you don’t have to go there.
When you need to hire many people quickly, you need to spend as much time as possible in the places that matter. Focus on understanding who your ideal staff members are and where you can find them in your local community.
10 Camp Recruiting Tips
Now that you know about the challenges, let’s walk through some of the ways your organization can improve camp recruiting.
Attend Local Job Fairs
One of the first ways to find local candidates is by attending a job fair in your community. Job fairs typically attract lots of different candidates to one location, so you know you are seeing people who are ready to work.
Here are some places to find job fairs:
- Community centers
- Local colleges and universities
- State workforce services
If you have the capacity, you can also work with some other seasonal companies in your area to put on your own career fair to improve camp recruiting.
When you attend a job fair, make sure that you have a simple way to collect information and applicants at your booth. You can set up a couple of iPads at your table to collect data and walk people through a brief job interest form. Once that happens, you can send more information about applying to anyone who piqued your interest. Job fairs should leave you with multiple viable candidates. The best way to get this outcome is by going to these events with the best technology to help you get candidate contact information. You shouldn’t use a contact card with hard to decipher handwriting.
Focus On Creating The Most Organized Experience For Potential Hires
Often organizations with rapid hiring needs aren’t forthcoming about all the steps to their process. This lack of organization often creates a negative experience for potential employees.
In today’s modern age, candidates are used to being ghosted by their potential employers. Wouldn’t it make your company stand out if you were open and communicative from day one?
Utilize mass messages to send out frequent updates about where you are in the hiring process. Your company will stand out, even if a candidate isn’t a good fit for your summer camp right now. By giving people insight along the way, you’ll lose fewer applicants due to lack of communication.
Reach Out To Past Campers
Your past campers might have aged out of all of your camp activities, but they might be the perfect new employees.
Past campers know the layout of your camp and the majority of the activities you do. They have so much experience with your organization, and they could continue to be a great asset by becoming an employee.
For campers aging out of your services this summer, consider speaking with them to see if they’d like to work with the organization at some point. It doesn’t hurt to get a jump on next summer’s hiring process.
Offer Perks For Returning Camp Staffers
Next, you need to consider adding perks for any returning camp staff. When you have more returning seasonal workers, you have to hire fewer employees. You can use some of the money you would use hiring for that staff slot to award employees who return to work. Here are some perk ideas your camp might want to use:
- Increased hourly job pay.
- Offer a yearly, one-time bonus incentive.
- First dibs on sleeping arrangements.
- Improved learning and skill development opportunities.
- Throw a yearly party for returning workers.
Review Your Job Application
One quick fix to improve camp recruiting and attract younger employees is reviewing your job application. Camps are unique because you want to make sure that your employees are qualified to work with children, but you don’t want to scare off potential employees with a 10-page job application. Take some time to look over your job application and what you’re asking of your potential team members. Are you asking an 18-year-old for ten references? Are you asking a 20-year-old for five years of experience?
When crafting any job application for young adults, you need to keep their current life experience top of mind. Give your job application a look through at least once a year to make sure it aligns with your hiring goals.
Create A Stellar Referral Program For Employees And Parents
One easy way to boost applicants for your summer camp is to start an employee referral program. Tap into the network of your employees and the parents of summer camp attendees. Both of these groups have a unique interest in sending you quality candidates, plus the bonus incentives you offer sweeten the deal.
Your employee referral program doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple Google Form can help you organize potential staff members. After you get some basic information from the referrer, you can then reach out to those candidates.
Set up some parameters about what a successful referral looks like. Do hires have to make it all the way through the season? Do they just need to start the process? Consider giving a secondary referral bonus if that staffer returns the next season.
Lean On Your Community And Culture To Get Better Applicants
As a camp, you have an amazing employer branding opportunity. There are probably hundreds of pictures of your team, your kids, and the land you camp on. There is no better way to attract candidates than to give them a way to visualize what it’s like working at your company. Day in the life content can be beneficial for jobs like camp counselors.
Gen-Z employees enjoy working for organizations that take a stand and live their core values. Take a look at this careers page example from Avid4 Adventure. Our founder David Secunda was also the founder of Avid4 Adventure (which helped him as he was founding WorkBright.) Avid4 Adventure has done a great job building an employer brand around their camp and using that to get better job applicants. You see the impact they have on their community, and their company values are posted in several places on their website. Adding your values and a career page to your site can help you attract more qualified candidates.
Use Niche Job Boards
Some people love working at summer camps and are looking for that type of employment. If you have the time, add some of your job openings on niche job boards. It only takes a few moments to get set up, and these boards could potentially drive better-qualified staff your way. Here are a few niche job boards you might want to look into:
You could also use niche community job boards and Facebook groups. Most cities and communities have a place to put specific jobs. If you are running a camp in multiple cities, like one of our clients SOS Outreach, you might find this localized approach helps you tap into the best talent each city has to offer.
Utilize Social Media Advertising
Most young adults these days are on social media. In fact, the number is 84%, according to Pew Research. If you are looking to reach out to area young adults, using social media advertising is probably the most cost-effective way to do it.
- If you have an established website and brand, you can install a Facebook Pixel to retarget people who view your career pages.
- You can also use social media to target anyone who signed up at a job fair or even past employees when it’s time to reapply.
- Lastly, you can use social media to reach out to completely new candidates in your area, even if they haven’t heard of your camp before.
There are so many opportunities to use social media, and these ads can be more trackable than traditional newspaper classified ads.
Be Forward Thinking
The last tip we have to share about camp recruiting is a reminder to be forward-thinking. If you spend all your time this season thinking about the current camp, you’ll run out of energy and find yourself in the same position next year. Break the cycle of chasing after candidates by implementing some good policies this year:
- Treat current employees with respect.
- Host an educational meeting for current staff members about returning next year. Allow them to apply for next year preemptively.
- Start going to job fairs for next year right after the summer camp season is over.
- Take some time to go over your website and employer brand so you can get the pictures and website changes you need for next year.
Building A Great Camp Onboarding Strategy
Now that you have camp recruiting under control let’s talk about your camp onboarding experience.
At WorkBright, we know the importance of using stellar camp staff onboarding software. We have several camps as clients, and we help them onboard new hires quickly. Getting a full staff is only part of the issue for camps. Ensuring you have all the right paperwork on hand can be exhausting when hiring hundreds of people in a few days.
Our onboarding software keeps you in the loop with an easy-to-understand dashboard and reporting features that help you feel like the onboarding rockstar you are! With WorkBright, your campers can understand exactly what they need to get you, and they can upload everything right from their phone. It’s convenient for your and your new hires.
Recruiting and onboarding go hand-in-hand. Don’t forget to look at your onboarding process while building a better hiring experience for employees.
Conclusion: Camp Recruiting Doesn’t Have To Be A Challenge
Are you ready to take camp recruiting seriously at your organization? Use some of the strategies we discussed in today’s article to improve your process and get the best talent your community has to offer. If you are looking for more information on how WorkBright helps camps, don’t forget to check out our case study with Boy Scouts Of America – Denver.