In the recreation industry, I often find myself having to “prove” the value of recreation and defend the careers of leisure service professionals. This is no small feat, and it seems that outdoor recreation, in particular, often receives the brunt of the criticism.
While many of us realize the intrinsic and extrinsic value of recreation in our lives, we seem to encounter significant stumbling blocks when approached with skepticism and ridicule concerning our recreation professions. It seems crucial, therefore, for us to think critically about the leisure and recreation service industry, and to be able to defend our personal and professional commitments to the industry and lifestyle of recreation.
Nathan Williams, an integral member of the AORE Campus Outdoor Recreation Assessment and Accountability Task Force (CORAA), has created and compiled some effective tools for recreation professionals to defend the value of outdoor recreation in our communities. Williams’s key talking points relate directly to campus outdoor recreation programs. However, these points correspond to many areas and people groups in a way that enables all of us to benefit when considering the justification for leisure and recreation services.
Whether involved in campus recreation programs or other activities, most of these points remain quite relevant across the board. With the student-specific ones, we can all be encouraged knowing that many recreation habits and activities often begin during peoples’ college years and continue throughout their lives. This point alone speaks to the value of campus recreation in our communities and professions.
Campus Outdoor Recreation Talking Points
(Adapted from Nathan Williams of CORAA)
- Campus outdoor recreation experiences may increase student first-year grade point average, retention, and contribute to greater levels of student development.
- Studies suggest that outdoor experiences reduce stress and anxiety among students and that outdoor recreation specifically contributes to increased emotional control for student participants.
- Students who participate in campus recreation may place higher lifelong importance on health and fitness than students who do not.
- Research has shown that outdoor recreation participants may gain increases in life effectiveness skills such as time management, task leadership, and achievement motivation.
- Participation in outdoor recreation may lead to environmentally sustainable attitudes and behaviors.
For more resources and citations regarding the points here, please visit and view Nathan Williams’ presentation document. For cards of the above information and other resources, visit Simpleotter.com.
Your Turn: What other points would you add to this list? How do you defend the value of outdoor recreation?