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July 26, 2021
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Popular summer camp in Sandy canceled due to lack of workers

A summer camp in Sandy was canceled this week due to a staffing shortage. (Ray Boone, KSL TV)

SANDY — Staffing shortages have become an issue all across Utah as managers and bosses desperately search for workers. Officials with Sandy City said they tried every tactic, tool and asset available to them to hire more staff, but it wasn’t enough to save a popular summer camp.

Summer break. Many of us have fond memories of those months between school grades. Back then, time seemed to stand still. It was before the responsibilities of adulthood. John Kinnear wanted his daughter to have the kind of summer she would never forget.

“I told her a few weeks ago that I wanted her to have fun this summer because last summer we were locked in the house pretty much the whole time,” said Kinnear.

He and his wife signed her up for the Rebel Program at Alta Canyon Sports Center in Sandy. It’s a summer camp where children go on field trips, go swimming and have the kinds of adventures that become great memories.

“She’s tired in the evenings, which is great,” said Kinnear with a laugh.

But on Friday, Kinnear received an email from the Alta Canyon Sports Center, informing him that camp was being canceled. “She’s going to be really bummed,” said Kinnear. “It’s a really great program with really great people.”

The reason why Alta Canyon canceled the program? Staffing. It seems managers can’t find enough people who want to work there.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in my career where we had this much of an issue trying to hire people,” said Dan Medina, director of Sandy’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Medina has 30-plus years of experience working for the city. He said they have tried to recruit people, but right now, the department is down roughly 25% in staffing. The popular Rebel Program had to go.

It also means parents planning on having the camp also act as a day care for their children while they work will have to make other arrangements.

“It was a decision and it wasn’t a light one,” said Medina. “But in order to keep other programs open, this was the one we wound up having to sacrifice.”

Kinnear said he understands the decision and he isn’t upset at Alta Canyon Sports Center. He just feels bad for his daughter, and the roughly 40 other children, getting bad news about their summer plans.

“They lost an entire summer last summer,” he said. “So, they’re going to miss out on another summer.”

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