PLAYBuilder Q&A with Joe Skotcher of Les Chater Family YMCA

Joe Skotcher

Joe Skotcher is the general manager of Les Chater Family YMCA in Hamilton, Ontario, which services Burlington, Brantford and Hamilton. He recently decided to implement PLAYBuilder software into his operation to better meet the needs of his members. Sport for Life connected with Skotcher to hear how that’s working out so far. 

S4L: What made you look for a solution like PLAYBuilder?

J.S.: After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were looking to re-evaluate our programs and offer a more specific skill-based program for children with less of a drop-in style. We had been struggling with staff playing the same games over and over, and following older plans for our sport-based programs. We previously had a grant for a position dedicated to physical literacy and program planning which helped our staff in having pre-planned lessons and assistance during programs, which were now needed. A solution like PLAYBuilder will allow for our child and youth supervisors to pre-plan the lessons and have the plans accessible to staff to read over prior to their shift. It also features a live version while the program is running. This will help us introduce a variety of games and activities, and help us in creating our more specific and specialized programs that will hopefully increase our program participation. 

S4L:Why did you choose PLAYBuilder?

We were looking for ways to incorporate more physical literacy into our child and youth programming. We had previously collaborated with YMCA of Vancouver, who had partnered with Sport for Life for their Y Move program. We looked at different organizations that could help us with future programming when re-opening from COVID-19 shutdown, as we had received a grant to get children active through physical literacy. We visited the Sport for Life website to see what resources or training opportunities were being offered and noticed PLAYBuilder. After exploring and getting more information, we were able to set up a demo to give us the full experience. After the demo, we knew that PLAYBuilder was what we were looking for to enhance our child and youth programs.

S4L: Did you intend to share full access to your members? If not, what were the reservations or limitations in sharing access to your members?

We intend to share our access with all of our branch leadership teams (child and youth program supervisors and general managers) as well as our child and youth program staff that will be running the lessons. There could be an opportunity to share with members virtually, to align with our online Y offerings during our closure. If something like that were to happen again during the winter it would allow for our members to interact with their children and help them grow physically and stay active.

S4L: What organizational processes does this software enhance? How much does it reduce the cost and time to complete these particular processes?

The software enhances our ability of our staff running programs to be more efficient and run a better program/class. Instead of going through a binder or clipboard, the lesson plan and extra activities are at the tip of their finger. Also, activities can be shared between our five Health, Fitness and Aquatic Centres easily and allows for added collaboration between staff. As we are currently not running child and youth programs due to the pandemic, it has allowed our supervisors to create quality lesson plans to enhance current programs and create new programs. This will allow staff when returning to be prepared and trained to deliver a high-quality program for children to be active and have fun!

S4L: Would you recommend PLAYBuilder to your peers?

I would definitely recommend PLAYbuilder to my colleagues and peers.

S4L: How has the pandemic affected your programming, and has our software been helpful in mobilizing innovation?

We have not currently been running child and youth programs due to the pandemic. We have in our branch over 3,000 child and youth memberships on hold, which has resulted in a loss in revenue. The software has been helping us in planning for post COVID programs, a lot of the pre-designed activities and lessons do not have COVID considerations therefore a lot of the activities will be great when we can restart programs normally.  We are having to create a lot of our own lesson plans currently for when we do re-open our programs as anticipated in January.

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