Hawaii summer programs having trouble finding applicants

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Summer camps and programs across Oahu are having trouble finding applicants.

City officials say they want to avoid closing a Summer Fun program site over a worker shortage.

Ellana Swiney was looking forward to signing up her 7-year-old son for the Summer Fun program, but those open spots did not last long.

Swiney said, “It was obviously filled up, and we have to wait for another opening to enroll my son into the program.”  

The high demand even crashed the City’s registration website on its first week of signups. The City’s Parks and Recreation spokesperson Nathan Serota says the program is looking to accommodate 6,000 keiki in 2021, but in order to do so, it needs more workers.

“We still have several dozen positions left, really last time I looked we had about a 25%-to-35% vacancy rate, so we really could use as many employees as possible,” Serota said. “Really the bottom line, the more employees that we have, the more kids that we can accommodate.” 

Kalihi and Kailua have the highest need for workers out of the 62 summer fun locations.

“There’s one site that I know of that really needs employees,” Serota said. “What we’re trying to do is get some other employees to handle that, but really the more pool of employees that we have to work with the better.”

It is not just the City that is seeing a smaller pool of applicants. The Salvation Army is hiring lifeguards, music teachers and sport coaches. While the YMCA’s creative and digital marketing manager Lisa Zhou said they are hiring at all YMCA facilities, Zhou said they are looking to bring on about 50 employees from entry level to more experienced.

The YMCA is even offering an extra incentive.

“A lot of that has to do with the competition,” Zhou said. “We are offering a hiring bonus for anyone that applies to work at the Y for any position and gets hired by June 20th, they will receive a $50 bonus.”

More workers could mean fewer kids placed on waitlists.

Swiney said, “These kids have been home in an apartment or in a house with no socialization and these programs are so needed.”

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