Summer camps deal with numbers game

NANAIMO: Demographics plays a part in summer camp attendance.

Zach Giszas

Zach Giszas

Nanaimo parks, recreation and culture is dealing with a numbers game when it comes to its summer playground programs.

While attendance at camps at Mansfield and Harewood Mining parks remains steady, the program at Deverill Park could use a boost in participants.

“Deverill not as busy as it used to be. We’re not sure if people don’t know about us, or whether the demographics in the area have changed,” said Deb Beck, recreational coordinator. “It seems to be more of a location where camps like the Boys and Girls and daycare camps come to utilize the waterpark.”

Overall, numbers are lower than last year, but it differs from camp to camp, said Beck.

“I’m not sure what it is. Some people say the weather is better compared to last year and people have taken off,” she said. “Or it could be a lack of awareness. We have information out there, but where people are going for their information may be something we need to tap into.”

The city will also consider moving a camp if residents show the demand is elsewhere.

A program at Departure Bay was moved to Pawson Park at Kennedy and Franklyn streets because of demographics.

“We need to find out where the young families are who would benefit from the program,” said Beck. “If people are interested in a free summer playground program in their neighbourhood, they can contact us and let us know.”

But no matter the location, the opportunity exists for kids to enjoy themselves.

“The beauty of our program is it is drop in. You can come for one hour, you can come for two hours, you can come for the full day or the full week,” said Beck. “The leaders are fabulous with lots of creative ideas and the program brings the sense of community back to a neighbourhood.”

Morrell Nature Sanctuary is enjoying encouraging numbers for its summer day camps, but organizers have worked at building the numbers.

“This has been our busiest summer in more than 10 years,” said Michelle Fitterer, summer camp coordinator. “Last year 350 kids went through the camps and this year we’re already at 522 with another month to go.”

But tough economic times in 2008 forced the cancellation of some of the camps as numbers dropped by close to 130 children from 2007.

“We had to change our advertising technique,” said Fritterer. “We used to take posters to the elementary schools, but now send a brochure home with every student that comes through our school programs. Now we know the message is going straight home to the parents.”

Beck said the city is always trying to create awareness of the camps, tying in with the Summer Lunch Munch and Science in the Park programs and using social media.

“We’re working on a YouTube video to show  people who have missed out what’s available,” she said. “The opportunity is there for another month of fun.”

For more information on parks, recreation and culture camps, please call 250-756-5200. For Morrell Nature Sanctuary, please call 250-753-5811.