Covid effect, low salaries... Summer camps face a shortage in facilitators

Colos cancelled, leisure reception shut.

Covid effect, low salaries... Summer camps face a shortage in facilitators

Colos cancelled, leisure reception shut... The entertainment sector is lacking arms this summer. A sector committee will be established in September to look for solutions.

The organization of summer stays is complicated because of tension between animators, directors and kitchen teams. Anne Carayon (director of Jeunesse au Plein Air) says that organizers are on the last stretch and are unsure if they can maintain the stays.

The Ligue de l'enseignement (Holidays to all) says that "the result of cancellations related specifically to the shortage of supervisors concerns just under 200 children", of the 17,000 who were welcomed. Benoit Fontaine (director of the League's holiday services) says that this number could rise because "we don’t necessarily have enough money to absorb any withdrawals".

Camp organizers resort to simple solutions to cope: Vincent Clivio from the National Federation of Rural Families says, "We are working to request exemption from state services for experienced but unqualified facilitators." .

Laurent Bruni, general manger of the UFCV, is concerned about the state of leisure centers.

These difficulties can be explained in part by the Covid pandemic and the confinements that followed it. Laurent Bruni explains that 17,000 youth have been prevented from taking Bafa training (the certificate needed to facilitate summer camps, editor's notes) over the past two years.

The causes of the problem are more complex. The summer camps are run by young people who have been recruited under an Educational Engagement Contract. They receive a low daily allowance (23.87 euro gross per day), due to the expected availability of 24 hours per day.

According to AFP officials, it is important to revalue the allowance to make the Bafa aid more understandable and to emphasize the importance and value of this commitment. Anne Carayon says, "We request for volunteers for the animation, just as we have a volunteer for firefighters, so that we are clear vis-a-vis young people."

Professionals are employed by leisure centers and extracurricular reception throughout all year. According to the Department of Youth, Popular Education and Associative Life, 10% of the required staff is in short supply. The shortage is characterized by a high level of precariousness, low remuneration, almost all part-time contracts, and a dearth of recognition and training.

The government was aware of these problems and organized "Assises de l'animation" from November 2021 until January 2022. The government created a plan with 25 measures and a "sector panel" to implement this plan. Former MP Yves Blein is now the chairman of the committee. Benoit Coquille (ex-advisor to the State Secretariat for Youth and Engagement) has been named secretary general.

"The goal is to have more porosity among all the childhood professions [...], so that qualifications can be standardized and that there are bridges which allow these people to enjoy real working time," explains Yves Blein. Teachers are supported by the Aesh or Atsem during school hours by the National Education and the leaders in the municipalities.

Yves Blein is happy that the "learning camp" program has brought the sector back into the spotlight with "significant assistance". It must not be a "one-shot" [...]. This is not the main topic. We are also asking questions about "living together" and social diversity. He said that we know how camps can help with this."

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