Student stories

Building skills as a Green Shack coordinator

Kirsten Beale

City of Edmonton, Green Shack programs

By Kirsten Beale

This summer, I had the privilege of working with the City of Edmonton as a Summer Recreation Coordinator. I was in charge of supervising staff and coordinating Edmonton’s Green Shack programs in the Northeast quadrant of the City. Edmonton’s Green Shacks offer a free drop-in recreation program for children aged 6-12 in parks across the City. A staff member runs activities all day long, including arts and crafts, sports, games and other activities. 

In May and June, prior to my staff’s start date, I worked with a team of about 30 other coordinators across the City to plan and develop the summer programs and a four-day staff training. During training, I led sessions on everything from staff expectations to behavior management, and tips for success in running drop-in activities.

These tasks required me to further develop my strengths in communication. In order to coordinate with other staff across the City, I became proficient in Google Apps, a system I had never used before, and learned the importance of staying on top of emails and phone calls. Meeting deadlines was an essential component of my role and were so important in ensuring that a product was finished in time for the supervisor in charge to evaluate it and give feedback. In order to stay on top of these various projects and other responsibilities, organization became my top priority. I used Google Calendar to plan out every deadline, meeting, or rental facility check. Sharing my calendar with my supervisor and colleagues made it easy to plan meetings and schedule deadlines for projects.

After staff started in July and August, my main responsibility was visiting, supporting and evaluating my 14 staff members at their playgrounds in the Northeast. My mandate was to visit each staff member once a week, for at least 30 minutes each time. This made time management difficult, but I developed some strategies to ensure I would be able to visit everyone. I would plan to conduct 3-4 site visits a day, starting on Monday, and used a voice to text app to record a verbal evaluation while I drove to the next site. Then, when I returned to the office, I could copy and paste the text from the app into that staff member’s weekly evaluation form. In the first two weeks of programs, I had often found myself rushed on Thursdays (Thursday nights were inservice dates where staff came together to receive updates and their weekly evaluation) and had on one occasion been rushing to complete evaluations right up until inservice time. However, I was not pressed for time again after I developed a better system for completed site visits and evaluations.

Another huge aspect of my job this summer was planning Midsummer carnival event. I was tasked with being the lead coordinator on this project, and it ended up being my largest task of the summer. I was responsible for booking an event location, finding vendors for bouncy castles and other activities such as glitter tattoos, and booking buses in order to bring kids from the 49 playgrounds across the Northeast to one location. This was a highly stressful event that I managed by delegating tasks to the other coordinators in the Northeast. Unfortunately, the second day of Midsummer had to be cancelled due to rain, which led to another three weeks of planning to reschedule the event. Although it was difficult to manage other tasks while simultaneously planning and re-planning an event over 5 weeks of the summer, the second Midsummer event was also a success.

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