As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, finding employment for the summer has become an issue for students about to enter college as well as those in college.
Places that typically hire these young adults like summer camps and community pools have had to shut down operations in accordance with safety guidelines. For the City of Scottsdale, a lot of these seasonal positions were canceled and those who were planning to work at city agencies were not scheduled to work anymore, according to Ann Porter, communications supervisor for the city.
“We had a lot of staff that were basically sent home and then, as we’ve been slowly reopening, some of that staff has been [able to be] brought back,” Ms. Porter said.
The city does hire high schoolers for certain positions such as lifeguards, but with services like that canceled, they have had no need for them. Staff that remained if they were not sent home and experienced no major job interruptions were reassigned to different areas that may have needed more assistance.
Additionally, the city has implemented a hiring freeze which has prevented them from filling any lost positions, whether they came from a lack of scheduling or people quitting.
“That’s not a hard and fast rule to say that forever,” Ms. Porter said.
She further explained that if the economy should rebound fairly quickly based on any new data, then the city would most likely reconsider their hiring process. In the event that this would happen, she assumes that they would work together to look at any services that might have been reduced.
“It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen in the next few months, but I do know that they’re trying to take a very thoughtful and methodical approach to all of those types of decisions,” she said.
In the meantime, the city is working on its plans to reopen all services in the most responsible way possible with what workers they have left in place and look forward to offering more job opportunities as they arise.
“The most important thing to know is that staff have been working behind the scenes for months to make the best most thoughtful and safe plans for citizens [and] based on the feedback we’ve received a lot of citizens are ready to get back to life,” Ms. Porter said.
While the city was able to reopen with some in-person services throughout this major adjustment period, for summer camps like the Rancho Solano Summer Camps in Scottsdale, all of their in-person activities were canceled this season. Summer camps across the country like theirs have unfortunately suffered because of physical distancing guidelines.
According to Rob Elwood, CEO of the Rancho Solano Summer Programs, they have been working since February to accommodate and plan for the outbreak.
When things started looking less fortunate at the beginning of this year, they made the decision to halt their hiring process.
“We started to communicate with folks [that] we do not want to promise anything [and] if you have an opportunity to work elsewhere, please pursue it,” Mr. Elwood said.
For high schoolers, their chances of working at one of Elwood’s programs have been relatively low. In a usual year, they are able to take on younger hires but this year they have had to focus on counselors who are more experienced.
“Adults and college students are at the top of the pecking order, and the high school and the CITs, those counselors in training, are unfortunately not being hired as much as I’ve seen in the past,” Mr. Elwood said.
After coming to the conclusion that they would likely have to cancel their in-person activities, hiring new counselors had to come to an end, not only for Rancho Camps but for summer camps as a whole. This was further exacerbated by the economic pains that they have had to face with refunds for all of their camps.
“We don’t have the disposable sort of resources that we typically would put forth into that category so it is definitely not a good time for high school kids to be looking for summer jobs in the camp industry,” he said.
While it has been unfortunate to lose this season’s main revenue, Rancho Camps have opened online summer camp activities at a reduced price. They have been able to keep on some of these program directors and leaders in order to facilitate new summer programs via their website, onlineadventurecamps.com.
“We’ve committed to our staff and to those we’ve kind of held on to as best we can, knowing that if there’s an opportunity, we are going to get them involved and provide as much work and as much camp as possible,” Mr. Elwood said.
These new programs will take place as long as at least one camper is interested in the program. For each camper interested, a program gets to take place and they are then able to bring on another employee who needs work.
“Even if that just means we break even or lose a little money on a business transaction, that’s not what’s most important right now,” Mr. Elwood said.
“What’s most important is that we’re serving our communities.”
Editor’s Note: Caroline Yu is a student-journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism serving in a paid internship role at Independent Newsmedia.