I am a professional and I work in Recreation. It sounds odd when you phrase it like that, but as the outlook for professionals evolves with the industry, it may be time that we as working professionals lay claim to who and what we actually are. Recreation is serious business. Whether it’s public or private, competent personnel are called upon daily to make important decisions that have far reaching implications. Taken with a grain of salt, each and every profession has its fair share of undo criticisms, expectations, and flat out inaccuracies that float around. Recreation as a discipline is no different. Unfortunately, Recreation & Leisure and the people involved within the craft often have to answer to the whims of opinions as to what sort of work they actually do.
In a nutshell, I remember the first time any one person questioned the validity of the Parks & Recreation employee as a professional. I was somewhere between my junior and senior years at the University of Tennessee and Dr. Steven Waller began his lecture by asking the class if any of us watched NBC’s Parks & Recreation. Most of us by that time had seen the sitcom and even a few were regular watchers of the show. Dr. Waller then began to inquire about the public image of the characters on the show and how the various depictions of working professionals might impact how some viewed practitioners in the field. Of course, I get it. It is just a sitcom. Not only is it just a sitcom, it’s also meant to be a very cleverly written comedy that also happens to be a sitcom. All things being the same, public perception can and will be changed over time based on things that they hear and see which can fly in direct contrast to what they actually experience in the real world. Now, what does all that mean? That is a very good question, and I have been trying to make sense of it since I left academia and ventured into the real world. Listed below are a few of the ideas that I managed to come up with.
Professionalism In Recreation: The Gritty Details
I. We are all connected. No matter how much we try to fight it, we are responsible for how the public views us. Whether your position puts you in contact with customers from the public or private sectors, we are all involved in a service based discipline and your ability to provide top notch service speaks volumes to each and every person that you come in contact with.
II. The Customer Is Always Right: That does not; however, give you reason to be a pushover. This is especially important when it comes to program policy and procedure.