APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Summer is right around the corner meaning you might be already thinking about taking your kids to the pool or signing them up for a summer camp.

But park and recreation departments are having trouble getting staff this year. Appleton’s Park and Recreation Programmer Krystal Ganz said the city needs 15 to 25 more lifeguards, 15 more people for the grounds crew, and 12 more umpires for little league.

“There’s a lot of different industries looking for employees and there’s a lot of different options for people,” said Ganz.

Appleton is now offering $100 hire, $100 retention, and $50 referral bonuses for several summer positions. There will also be a $1 per hour increase in pay for Friday or Sunday shifts as well as hours worked in April, September, or October.

The incentives apply to lifeguard, pool slide attendant, umpire, and ground laborer positions.  

In Menasha, the parks and recreation department said they are facing many of the same problems.

“Everything that we’re hearing based on those connections is that everybody is struggling, some people have really great ideas but despite those best efforts everybody is struggling,” said Menasha recreation director Chloe Hansen-Dunn.

She said she’s hopeful they can fill out their staff ahead of summer. If they aren’t able to they will make modifications to some of their summer programs such as reducing when the slide at the public pool is open or when different parts of the pool are open.

She said Menasha needs about seven more lifeguards, five to eight more program instructors, and two more park seasonal staff.

She said the recreation department has worked hard to raise wages for its seasonal workers although they acknowledge that there’s still work to be done. They have tried everything from social media posts to attending job fairs, to waiving the cost of lifeguard training to try to get more people to work for the parks and recreation department.

Fast food restaurants compete with parks and recreation departments for seasonal workers.

Local 5 News reached out to a local KFC with a help-wanted advertisement to ask how much money they pay their new team members. We were told they start at $11 an hour, at a local McDonald’s starting pay is $9 to $14 an hour depending on experience.

Appleton parks and recreation department seasonal positions range from $8.37 an hour to $17. Based on their website, the parks and recreation jobs that Menasha has posted range from $9 at the pool to $19 for a seasonal park laborer.

Recreation directors are hopeful they’ll find more people to hire.

“Appleton is a great community and we want to hire people who are passionate about making the community a better place,” said Ganz.

“You really get to make relationships with the kids and being able to know them and the families and the communities is a really cool part of the job,” said Trista Hansen who has been a program leader in the Menasha parks and recreation department for several years.