East Texas summer camps are seeing an excess of enrollments and are struggling to find counselors

GILMER, Texas (KETK) – “So much better than the last two,” said DeAnna Hargrove, executive director of the Tyler Civic Theater.

Summer camps like the Tyler Civic Theater’s STAR Workshop are experiencing a boom in enrollment after being slow for the past two years.

“It’s been a disappointment to see less in recent years,” Hargrove said.

Executive Director DeAnna Hargrove says the pandemic has caused them to lose teachers. Luckily, they didn’t have much trouble finding replacements.

“We were able to reach out and find a couple of school teachers who were looking for summer drama work etc.,” Hargrove said.

Camp Gilmont in Gilmer was not so lucky.

“It’s definitely been a difficult year recruiting,” said Crosby Palmer, Gilmont’s program director.

Counselors and support staff such as lifeguards were difficult to find, especially when they needed to increase their staff.

“Compared to last year, enrollments for our summer camps are higher, but they’re lower than four years ago before the pandemic,” Palmer said.

During the pandemic, Camp Gilmont had to look at things differently, so they started offering families a chance to experience camp together. They also offer year-round retreats and a week-long sleepover experience for children. New this year is a day camp for children aged 5 and over.

“So in the past month alone, we’ve seen the majority of our applications and are again looking for more male employees,” Palmer said.

Camp Gilmont says they are still looking for male counselors and are looking forward to a great camp season.

“Gilmont’s mission is to be a safe, sacred place where all are invited to draw closer to God,” Palmer said.

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