SCARBOROUGH, ME Ð June 16: Counselor Aidan Alastro pushes campers Miriam Means, left, and Helen Hatch on swings at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough. Some summer camp programs have been canceled due to a lack of staffing. Camp Ketcha started their first week of camp this week but Camp Director Kara LaRochelle says they could use a few more camp counselors. (Staff photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer) Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

SCARBOROUGH — School’s out in Maine, which means it’s time for summer camp, but this year summer camps around Maine are struggling to find camp counselors amid high demand.  

For many parents or guardians, summer camp replaces school or daycare during school vacation. Camps supply safe and fun childcare for parents during the summer work weeks.  

Camp Ketcha, located at 336 Black Point Road in Scarborough, is one of the camps that has been struggling to find counselors. This year, 300 kids attend each week, participating in traditional summer camp activities under the watchful eye of only 75 staff members.  

“It’s almost like we have a lot less because people value time off more, so a lot of people are just asking for more time than before,” said Camp Ketcha Director Kara LaRochelle.  

The camp is are currently around 15 camp councilors short and is not running at full capacity. The camp has never had a staffing issue before, LaRochelle said. They used to rehire around 70 percent of their counselors and never had a problem reaching their staff goal of 880 to 90 councilors to accommodate 350 campers.

“At our camp, it is tough, but we are probably luckier than most,” said LaRochelle. “We can run and run comfortably. Unfortunately, when faculty takes days off, that is when it gets pretty tough, and they deserve days off because they work really hard. The big issue is that we can’t add anybody. Our waitlist has hundreds of people on it, which is really hard because if we had more staffing, we would be able to serve more families.”  


Many parents have put their kids on the waitlist in hopes of finding a way to get into the camp. LaRochelle said she has gotten used to receiving calls from parents desperately trying to find a spot for their child. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the camp has operated with reduced numbers, accepted fewer campers, and hired half the staff.  

“We haven’t had to cut back on any programs this year because we can run, but we aren’t comfortable,” said LaRochelle. “It is definitely sparse, but when we have a lot of people out, then we have to take from our leadership staff, so we don’t have as much support for kids who need it, and we have to take from our program staff so those are the people that teach the different areas, so they get a less structured day, and it’s not quite the same.”  

Camp Ketcha is a year-round charitable nonprofit organization that helps serve the southern Maine community. They are a traditional day camp, and they have specialty camps as well. The campers rotate through different activities throughout the day and week. The specialty camps have a different theme each week; some themes include wizard week, fairy week, sports week, etc. They offer programs in youth development, family enrichment, and summer day camping. The camp takes children ages 3 to 14 and they get to experience activities from archery to horseback riding to arts and crafts.   

Know someone 16 or older looking for a fun and meaningful summer job? The camp is still taking applications for the school year, year-round, and summer staff. Those interested in applying can do so on their website at or contact them at 207-883-8977.

 The camp has increased their starting salary and hopes more people will apply. Applicants do not need prior childcare experience. 

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