In her 20 years with Saanich Recreation, Alyssa Staples has followed a long and interesting road to her current role as Arts and Wellness Recreation Programmer at Cedar Hill Recreation Centre.
It all started as a youth intern with Saanich Recreation’s Neighbourhood Playground Program – a first experience that sparked a passion. “I had never been a camper myself and it was a great introduction – as a 16-year-old I really found a love for working with children and working with community,” Alyssa says.
That experience, and the opportunity to network with other Saanich recreation staff, led to casual preschool and administration positions that offered the pay and flexibility to let her complete post-secondary education at Camosun College. Next steps led to positions working with youth at the Saanich teen centres, then looking after school-age programs at Saanich Commonwealth Place and Royal Oak Middle School, and as a recreation administrative supervisor at Cedar Hill.
Throughout her career, Alyssa has been committed to integrating people of all abilities within the recreation community, from children who need a little more support to older adults who benefit from inclusive programs adapted to different needs – a philosophy she continues today in her role with Arts and Wellness programming at Cedar Hill.
“I had no idea I was going to be working with children and recreation, but one person happened to say, ‘What do you think about this?’”
As a job or career, find many paths to explore
As Alyssa’s journey reflects, a rewarding career in recreation can start early and take many paths. Beyond camp leader, programmer and administration, there are skate attendants, preschool instructors and so many more possibilities; building service workers at Pearkes Recreation Centre even get to drive the Zamboni!
Throughout recreation, the personal rewards of the work are significant, whether you’re working part-time as a lifeguard, fitness instructor or receptionist, or building a full-time career.
Program leaders and instructors teach life-long skills and help build a welcoming, inclusive community, while also reaping the rewards themselves – the opportunity to grow and learn, to network and develop a wide variety of transferable skills. Positions are flexible, to work around school or family commitments, and Saanich Recreation’s welcoming approach to program participants extends to the recreation team, too, Alyssa says, noting that today some of her closest friends are from her first years working summer camp.
“I began working at Saanich summer camps looking for friends and I came out with a family,” she reflects.
To explore the many possibilities with Saanich Recreation, visit saanich.ca/careers