Press Club

Parks department beefs up systems ahead of summer camp registration

A man repeatedly clicks a mouse (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy)

Get your clicking fingers ready, Arlington’s often competitive summer camp registration process will be opening next week.

Arlington’s parks and rec department has made some changes to try to ensure last year’s technical problems don’t happen again. The problems stem from a crush of parents all trying to register for limited camp slots at the same time.

“Summer Camp registration is the busiest registration for Arlington County Parks & Recreation,” department spokeswoman Susan Kalish tells ARLnow. “And for good reason. We provide more than 600 camps to our community, from classic camps to computing. We recognize the importance of providing options for our diverse community with indoor, outdoor and a combination.”

The camps this year run from June 21-Aug. 26. Registration for Arlington residents is set to open next Wednesday (Feb. 23) at 7 a.m., a month earlier than last year’s registration date.

“We have space for about 20,000 campers throughout the summer,” noted Kalish. “We anticipate about 50% of these spaces will be taken the day registration opens.”

Last year ARLnow heard from multiple people about the registration system going down shortly after opening. It was fixed an hour later, but not before considerable consternation among parents.

“The Arlington County Parks & Rec summer camp registration website was a total mess this morning,” a tipster told us at the time. “It opened at 7 a.m. for parents to register and immediately started crashing and timing out… I suspect there will be many angry parents this morning.”

It wasn’t the first time for such problems.

“Another epic registration system meltdown this morning for Arlington Parks & Rec summer camps,” said another tipster, referencing past issues. “Having an open comments section on this topic will drive significant traffic of all the parents who need to get out their rage after spending 1.5 hours on a platform that timed out repeatedly.”

Screenshot of the Arlington parks department camp registration going down in March 2021

The problems are also not unique to the parks department. Arlington Public Schools has repeatedly had issues with its similarly competitive extended day registration process.

This time around, county officials say the technology contractor used by DPR for camp registrations has beefed up their systems to account for the zeal with which Arlingtonians try to register at the earliest opportunity.

“To ensure we have the capacity to support community interest, our contractor has added resources to support an even higher transaction volume and implemented additional monitoring tools to provide more visibility into our software’s performance,” Kalish said.

“Camp registration is an all hands on deck event,” she added. “We pull in staff from various units to make sure it is as seamless as possible.”

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