Parks & Recreation

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and this year’s theme is “Get Your Play On.”  I think this is a perfect theme.  Parks provide a great place to play, and recreation departments should embrace that and market their parks to their residents and to the public at large.  As a parks and recreation professional, I want people to use our parks.  They are a place to relax, a place to get exercise, a place to explore, a place to enjoy the fresh air, and, most importantly, a place to play.  But is it possible to just “play?” The word

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I can’t stand the term passive recreation area.  Common “passive recreation” pursuits are wildlife observation, walking, biking, snowshoeing, and canoeing, and a “passive recreation area” is typically defined as undeveloped space or an environmentally sensitive area.  I probably just dropped a whole lot of knowledge on you there.  Before I started working in the parks and recreation field, I didn’t know there was a difference between “active” and “passive recreation,” so I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t either.  I didn’t know recreational pursuits were categorized this way.  And they shouldn’t be. Let’s look more at what some common “passive”

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Whatever happened to play?  It’s a question I’ve asked before.  What has happened to youth sports?  I’ve asked this question before too many times.  Despite all my questioning and time thinking about why the play environment has deteriorated, maybe I am envisioning too perfect an environment. There are clear issues with the play environment, and I want them to be corrected.  Society needs them to be corrected.  But first, we must realize that there are problems.  So, I’m going to take a page out of Martin Luther’s playbook and nail these five theses of the play environment to every park,

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“Can I go play outside?” was a common question from kids to their parents, with the parents usually responding, “be home when the streetlights come on.”  Then, all that was needed was a backyard or nearby field, a ball, and other neighborhood friends.  Games were made up on the spot, using whatever equipment, field space, and players were available.   Somewhere along the way, this form of play was replaced by organized sports leagues for children as young as three years old and travel teams for children as young as seven years old.  Play became formal.  There are many potential reasons

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Many communities have playgrounds, picnic areas, sports fields, walking and running trails, and many other passive and active recreation facilities.  Some of these get used more than others, and some may not even be well known to the residents in the area.  (Park accessibility is a problem we need to fix, but there are solutions.)  Today is Visit a Park Day, a day to encourage people to visit parks and to raise awareness of the multiple benefits parks offer both people and places.  While Visit a Park Day is hosted by the Young Professional Network of the National Recreation and Park

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