In the past, people devoted a much larger proportion of their time to earning a living and a much smaller part to leisure pursuits than we do today. People may work in outdoor recreation for state parks or national forests; in commercial recreation, managing health clubs or resorts; in colleges or universities, managing recreation programs for students; and in communities, providing recreation services for all individuals. They may move into advanced managerial positions. Some pursue the related field of therapeutic recreation, where leisure activities are used to help treat and improve the condition of special populations such as senior citizens or individuals with disabilities.
Often people are confused about the differences between the two areas of recreation and physical education. There is a significant distinction between the study programs and career opportunities available. The study of physical education stresses the scientific basis of fitness and physical activity. It focuses on human development and performance, the psychology of sport, leadership, instruction skills, and skill competence in various physical activities.
Physical Education Professionals are concerned with providing physical activity and sport-related opportunities such as fitness, track and field, intramural programs, swimming, and games. They may be found on the front lines instructing physical activities, coaching teams and conducting fitness appraisals, or they may be in administrative positions in the areas of sport, fitness and athletics.
The study of recreation stresses the importance of recreation experiences, both active and passive, for all people. It focuses on planning, programming, community development, administration, interpersonal relations, leadership, and instruction. Recreation Professionals in the recreation career and parks field strive to achieve one common goal: to provide people with opportunities for leisure time enjoyment. By arranging recreation programming such as arts and crafts courses, sports programs, day camps, therapeutic programs and instructional workshops.
The recreation professional may schedule the programs, book the facility where the program will be held, handle the staffing needs of the program and the facility and, in many cases, oversee the programme advertising and registration. Other recreation professionals manage recreation facilities such as fitness centres, arenas, curling rinks, swimming pools and racquet courts. Recreation or parks professionals also manage provincial, national and municipal parks. The executive directors of provincial and federal sport and recreation associations like hockey or baseball are also known as recreation professionals.
Recreation Professionals work at various levels of employment to provide people with a wide range of recreation opportunities in areas such as music, dance, drama, museums, parks, historical sites, sports, games, and fitness. They may be on the front line, instructing. They may be supervisors with paid and volunteer staff assisting them to plan and administer programs and facilities, or they may be senior administrators responsible for operating an organization.
A variety of positions exist in the park areas. In larger towns, cities and counties, there may be a Parks Superintendent responsible for developing and operating park facilities, preparing budgets, planning for park areas, and supervising staff. Positions of this type are usually senior-level positions requiring several years of experience.
Municipal parks, operations often employ park maintenance workers, greenskeepers and horticulturists. Such positions involve scheduling for maintenance duties such as grass cutting, garbage collection and pruning; preparing budgets; supervising employees; supervising the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; and other duties related to maintaining areas such as playing fields, trails, golf courses, parks and gardens.
Provincial and national parks employ park rangers or wardens whose job includes managing the park resources and facilities, providing for visitor safety, managing park wildlife, supervising park operations, such as campgrounds and maintenance, and preparing budgets and operating plans for the park. The training required for this type of work varies, but a background in natural resource management, and sometimes enforcement, is often preferred.
Facility maintenance supervisors or foremen may be employed by some facilities and duties may include developing and supervising maintenance schedules, assigning work to staff, assisting in planning and supervising construction and renovations, and maintaining equipment and supplies. In some smaller municipalities, facility and park maintenance duties may be combined in one position. In other park-related positions are naturalists who plan and provide educational programs and displays about the natural and historic features of a park.