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Maine summer camps ready to welcome campers back

Some camps across Maine are dealing with a post-pandemic worker shortage
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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FAYETTE, Maine (WABI) - School is out for the summer, and that means many kids will be heading to Maine summer camps.

TV5 visited Camp Winnebago on Echo Lake in Fayette Thursday to see if they have enough staff to help with the 150 campers arriving Friday.

“The kids have been waiting for this for nine months,” said third generation owner and director of the camp, Andy Lilienthal. “Now, they’re coming, and it’s, for many people, the best part of their year.”

60 counselors from all over the world will be on hand for the camp’s 103rd year giving boys ages 8 to 15 a unique camp experience in Maine.

“Most of our recruiting and enrollment happens before the end of the year,” said Lilienthal.

He says he’s aware some camps have had to curtail their programming because they cannot fill positions.

At Camp Winnebago, they, too, had that same concern.

“We we’re definitely worried. The issue is the timing. Some people will come on board earlier in the year, and others, it’s almost a last minute decision,” he said.

Lilienthal says they’ve had to be flexible and hire people who they know will fit in with the camp community.

One position they found challenging to fill - trip leaders, those who will lead on overnight camping trips.

“It’s been harder to get people to come in and take the responsibility of leading these trips where they’ve been used to doing a lot of work in their own,” he explained. “People are either reluctant to take responsibility to come and work with children in that way, or we’re competing with McDonald’s in some ways for jobs who are paying $16-$18 an hour.”

No campers have been turned away from Camp Winnebago due to any staffing shortages.

While some camps in Maine may be struggling, Lilienthal says one good thing about them is that each one has a mission.

“When people relate to the mission and want to help sort of promulgate that, it’s easier to bring people in because they want to be something more than just a paycheck,” he said.

Click here to learn more about the camp and employment opportunities.

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