Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Looking for a summer job with growth potential?

Why not apply to Ontario Parks?

That’s how acting deputy minister Bruce Bateman started.

“Entry level” position

In 1978, Bruce interviewed for his first position: gate attendant at Bon Echo Provincial Park.

bruce batemanThat guy on the left? That’s young Bruce, back in 1978!

One of the interview questions was: “Do you have a bicycle?” Strange question, Bruce thought… until he was hired.

“I was working at a gate called Hardwood Hills. “It was five kilometers, uphill, from the staff house to the door.” She laughs at the memory. “I won’t miss that trip.”

Coming back

Many years and many parks later, Bruce returned to Bon Echo as superintendent.

Bon Echo Paddlers

Some familiar faces greeted him, including the employee from his student days.

“When I arrived at my new office, there was nothing on my desk except a small folder. Inside was my original contract. The employee had dug through the files to find it. He told me: ‘I hope they pay you more this time.’”

They certainly were. In 1978, Bruce earned $2.10 an hour.

Deploying the welcome cart

Park ranger working at Algonquin west gate Bruce has fond memories of those busy days at the park. Your favorite task of his? Greet visitors when they arrived.

“Even as a superintendent, if I looked out the window and saw cars lined up, I would often walk and direct traffic for 20 minutes. It was something I enjoyed doing, meeting the people coming in and welcoming them to the park.

“Even now, if I visit a busy park, I feel the urge to jump in and help.”

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Creating a legacy

He has seen many changes since his days at the gate. There are two popular new summer student-led programs: Learn to Camp and Learn to Fish.

These programs provide first-time campers and anglers with all the equipment they need, from tents and rods to campfire pies. A friendly staff leader guides you through basic camping and fishing skills.

Learn to be a camp leader with a child

Bruce helped introduce Learn to Camp and Learn to Fish.

“I’m really proud of these programs. They get new Canadians and new families involved in nature and fishing. At the end of my career, I’ll be able to look back and say, ‘That was a good thing we did.'”

A changing workplace

A welcome change for summer students? Computers have taken over some of the most boring tasks.

“The front doors used to be open 24/7. If he was on the midnight shift, one of his jobs was to take all the handwritten permits, arrange them alphabetically, and write all the names and addresses in a book.

“Now the registration system is computerized.”

door staff

But the biggest evolution occurred with social networks. Ontario Parks now stays in touch with campers between visits, sharing everything from campground vacancy reports and park events to video tutorials on how to use a camp stove or rig a fishing rod.

The downside to that connection? “Years ago, if you had a complaint or a compliment, you had to sit down and write a letter,” Bruce laughs. “Now you can send it instantly, directly from your camp.” Still, it’s exciting to feel like we’re strengthening relationships with our visitors and we love hearing more of your ideas and feedback.

Bruce has two pieces of advice for summer job seekers: flexibility and perseverance

First, be open to working anywhere in the province.

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NHE Leader on Guided Hike at Six Mile Lake

“I often hear people say they want to stay close to home. When I was 17 I went to Bon Echo, an hour and a half from my house, and stayed in the staff house. Yes, it was a little scary at first, but I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

“It’s a new adventure; You’ll love it. “I often tell students that they will move on and start a career, but they will never forget their time at Ontario Parks.”

The second tip? “Go after what you want.

“The jobs are out there. We hire about 1,600 students and another 600 temporary employees, some of whom are also students.

LTC Leaders

“So make those phone calls. Call the superintendent or assistant superintendent. Tell them you applied and you really want a job. Because, frankly, we get hundreds and thousands of requests. “We are looking for people who really want to work in parks.”

Celebrating success

One of his proudest moments as director is handing out scholarships to students. These scholarships go to outstanding summer students nominated by the parks and the public.

“Every year we have a big ceremony with a lunch. Their superintendents come in uniform. We are able to provide $500 per student, thanks to donations from our partners.

“In November, we awarded scholarships to 40 students who worked at the organization last summer. We can talk to them and hear what work they did and why they were nominated. “They are special days for me.”

Opportunity knocks at your door

Many summer students he has met over the years have found a career at Ontario Parks.

“It’s really rewarding to see them achieve things and advance in their careers. The people I knew when they were students are now my colleagues.”

So, what are you waiting for?

Submit your job application. You will have the summer of your life.

And who knows? Someday, like Bruce, you could end up in the director’s chair.