NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – In the city of New Braunfels, the struggle to get new hires has affected some family-favorite summer activities.
According to the Parks and Recreation Department in New Braunfels, only 30% of their seasonal positions have been filled.
“In a typical summer, we have about 150 seasonal positions that we try to hire,” Stacey Dicke said. “Most years, we get between 80% (to) 85% of those positions filled. This summer has been very different from most summers.”
Dozens of park rangers, lifeguards, camp counselors and more need to be hired soon to carry on with summer activities, including swimming lessons.
“We had to cancel our swimming lessons at our outdoor pools for the month of June because we don’t have water safety instructors to teach those lessons,” Dicke said. “Water safety instructors have additional certification (other than a lifeguard) that you can get (in order) to teach the swimming lessons. But we’re having difficulty with lifeguards as well. We have, I believe, 65 lifeguard positions. And right now we have just about half of those filled.”
While Landa Park Aquatic Complex is set to open Memorial Day weekend, employee shortage at the Parks and Recreation Department has forced one section of the facility to remain closed until further notice.
“Our Olympic swimming pool, the chlorinated traditional pool, will not be used for public swim during public swim hours,” Dicke said. “We’ll be able to use it for our swim team practice and our swim lessons should we get enough instructors to be able to hold those in July.”
According to a release from the city, “All specialty camps (like Mini Cheer, Secret Agent Academy, Little Athletes, Outdoor Skills Camp, etc.) hosted by the Parks and Recreation Department in June have been canceled.”
However, two of the most popular activities are in full swing.
“One of our top priorities, along with our all-day summer day camp, was to have the tube chute fully staffed with lifeguards and we have been able to do that,” Dicke said. “We plan to stay that way for the rest of the summer.”
The priority now is to get more people hired and quickly.
“I’ve been in the parks and recreation business for over 30 years and I’ve never seen a summer like this,” Dicke said.
Retention is also low, making it more difficult to get the staff force needed to run a smooth summer operation.
“These are positions that typically high school and college-age kids will take (to work) on the school break and we’re just not finding them.”
More cancellations could come if the situation doesn’t improve soon. Dicke said she also worries about how this might affect children who have looked forward to spending time outdoors.
“(It helps) keep (kids) active in the summer, making friends, having fun. It’s really, you know, summer enrichment,” Dicke said. “It’s a really fun and rewarding place to work because you get to see families connecting with each other, having fun away from screens, children learning and growing and trying things for the first time.”
On Saturday, the City of New Braunfels will host an on-the-spot hiring event from 9 a.m. to noon at Landa Park Aquatic Complex, located at 350 Aquatic Circle in New Braunfels.
“We think it’s the best place in town to work,” Dicke said. “It teaches the young folks that work for us a lot about relationships and families, how they work, a lot of responsibility and leadership that they can gain over this summer.”
Open season positions at the event include lifeguards, park rangers and camp counselors. Candidates are asked to bring two valid forms of identification or to apply here.
According to the Parks and Recreation Department, “Starting pay for those positions range from $12 to $17 per hour and those hired will be eligible to receive the city’s $250 hiring incentive. Aquatics staff are eligible for an end-of-season incentive of up to $300. Lifeguard certifications will be provided, and all required training is paid training.”