Barrie Recreation Staff “In A Groove” When Setting Up Strike-Related Day Camps

City Staff Establishing Alternatives For Parents With Very Little Notice

When Simcoe County members of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario walk a picket line on Monday, the City of Barrie will be ready.

Two day camps have been set up, one at East Bayfield, the other at Holly Rec Centre, both accepting applications. And this was no small feat.

“We’ve had some challenges with things on our end because we don’t get any advanced notice of course,” says Alex Malmsten, Recreation Supervisor with the City of Barrie. “The first thing we try to do is make sure we have some space, and that’s kind of been a juggling match. We may be having to relocate preexisting programs.”

Once the space is secure, then staff have to be found to man the post, an added challenge as many qualified camp councilors have gone back to school themselves. “We’re very fortunate that we have a good number of staff trained on our summer camp system,” says Malmsten. “But some of them are high school students, some of them are college students. So it’s a matter of trying to flex their schedule to work with us.”

The location is locked down, staffing has been secured, but what to do all day? “We really run this as sort of a generic camp. So there’s going to be activities, crafts, sports games, all your sort of camp activities,” Malmsten said. “Unlike our summer camp where we’re running a sports-specific camp where we know everyone is gung-ho to play dodgeball all day, here we don’t know what the kids’ interest is going to be until they show up.”

Malmsten adds that, as more one-day strikes arise, he and his team get in more practice in setting up these pop-up camps. “We’re sort of in a groove now where we’ve done it enough times that it’s pretty lickety-split. The main thing is securing staff, but we’ve been very fortunate, as I said, that we’ve been able to have some of our great summer camp staff who are willing to help out.”

You can register your child for the January 27th day camp at either Holly or East Bayfield here.