A park. A pond on the left and a walking path on the right, with foliage and trees throughout. Recreation Professionals. Spark Solutions.

Celebrating Recreation & Recreation Professionals

Did you know that June is Parks and Recreation Month? And that this week, June 15th to 21st, is Recreation Professionals Week? It is! But what exactly does that mean?

Defining Recreation

First, let’s define recreation. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines recreation as “refreshment of strength and spirits after work”, as well as, “a means of refreshment or diversion”. The word has origins in Anglo-French and Late Latin languages, meaning ‘spiritual refreshment’, ‘the action of amusing’, and ‘to revive’.

In other words, to engage in recreation is to recreate. It’s meant to refresh our bodies, minds, and spirits. To engage in recreation is to do it on purpose. It doesn’t happen by chance.

For the Greater Good

Recreation isn’t simply good for you as an individual. It provides benefits to our community, our society, our economy, and our environment. For example: parks provide us with a place to gather and socialize. They allow us space to move our bodies and get fresh air. They allow us locations to play sports, hold events, and gather in celebration or in protest. Parks are designated sites that preserve precious and endangered plants, animals, and their habitats. Many people rediscovered their enjoyment of parks and trails when there was little else to do during COVID-19’s quarantine. I hope we continue to see increased usage of parks and trails as we resume our ‘normal’ daily lives.

Lara with friends, in front of the oldest tree in Saskatchewan.
Lara with friends at Saskatchewan's oldest tree, social-distance style, 2020

The Benefits Multiply

When we spend money in recreation, we save money that would otherwise be spent in other places. When we move our bodies and are active, we save healthcare costs that would have been spent on treating chronic conditions. If we fill our time with recreational activities, we’re less likely to spend money in the judicial system. Also, we have the potential to manage our mental health in ways that alleviate the strain on mental health services. Life skills can be taught and experience can be gained through recreation (in sport, this process is called ‘sport for development’). In other words, recreation is prevention.

Recreation Professionals

Recreation is an umbrella term for a wide sector. Recreation is community recreation, parks and outdoor recreation, and therapeutic recreation. It is also health and wellness, education, arts, culture and heritage, tourism, and sport. Those who work in recreation roles are called recreation professionals, and they work in not-for-profits, municipal and provincial government, public and private organizations, and sometimes volunteer. Although some recreation professionals work in the field by gaining on-the-job experience, many take specialized education and training, like I have.
Lara with her family in front of the Grand Canyon. Recreation Professionals. Spark Solutions.
Lara and her family at the Grand Canyon, Christmas Day 2017

Recreation is Essential to Life

Many people believe that recreation is a ‘soft service’, meaning that it’s ‘fluff’ and nice to have, but not as necessary as other services like health care, education, emergency services, and infrastructure. However, recreation is essential to life, and I would argue, diminishes the need of other essential services. As a current Board of Directors member for the Saskatchewan Association of Recreation Professionals, the provincial association responsible for representing and supporting current and future recreation professionals, I see the necessity of its mission: to ‘advance the recreation profession through networking, education, and advocacy’.

Building Awareness for Recreation

Advocacy and ongoing education are the keys to teaching people that recreation, and sport, is necessary to the continued success of ourselves, our communities, and our society. By celebrating Recreation Professionals Week, and Parks and Recreation Month, we’re raising the profile of recreation and encouraging people to take part. And so, happy Parks and Recreation Month, and happy Recreation Professionals Week! I hope you celebrate by refreshing and amusing yourselves.


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