Summer camps filling up fast at Vancouver community centres

Childcare is an issue at all times of the year for parents in the Lower Mainland, and with the long stretch of summer holidays coming up soon, demand is higher than ever, the City of Vancouver says.

Summer and day camps are a popular option to keep children engaged over the holidays but spots at local community centres are filling up fast.

Donnie Rosa, director of recreation for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn that parents should start registering their children into camps now because before long, all the spots will be taken.

"Believe it or not, it's time to do it," Rosa said. "If people sign up now, they should be okay. But in the next few weeks to a month, things will get tight."

What's new this year

Each summer, close to 31,000 spots at community centre camps are filled. The quickest to fill up, Rosa said, are science, swim and skate, arts and outdoors camps.

This year, Rosa said, the Parks Board is focusing on including more arts and creativity into all the camp programs. For example, she said, there is a new tennis and art camp where children are active with sports in the morning and focus on more creative pursuits in the afternoon.

"Parents are wanting their kids to be exposed to more than just one specific form," she said. "Now is the time to get on there and make sure they get the camp that they want."

How to sign up

If a top choice is already taken, the best bet is to keep looking at other locations.

"Some facilities may fill up faster than others but if people are really interested then they should just look at the other centres and they will find a spot somewhere down in one of the centres," Rosa said.

Financial concerns should not be a barrier for children attending summer camp, Rosa said. The City of Vancouver has a leisure access program that encourage lower-income families to enroll in summer camps and programs.

"It allows them one camp, per centre, for the summer," Rose said. "We try to help the best we can to get people into programs and kids into camp."

To enrol in a summer program, register online or in person at a community recreation centre.

With files from On The Coast