Think back to when you were in college, trying to make the decision about what you wanted to do for the rest of your life — what career you wanted to pursue. It can be a very confusing time. There are countless options. It can be overwhelming. And now, there are numerous students working within your campus recreation center facing the same dilemma.
As campus recreation professionals, you are in the perfect position the help these students examine possible careers. Take some time to think about what drew you to the campus recreation industry and what has made it such an attractive career.
If you need a little inspiration, Kathy Bayless, the director of recreational sports at Indiana University shares her top three reasons for getting involved and staying in the industry: Compelling Impact, Capable and Caring Colleagues and Countless Opportunities.
We’re here to serve everyone and help them pursue active, healthy lifestyles no matter their age, gender, race, ethnicity, interest or ability — what could be better? This is a vitally important role and one that will increase in significance as more and more people are beginning to grasp the importance prevention over disease management in the face of such health issues as obesity, stress, diabetes, and depression. We need to be even more intentional about designing and delivering programs that enhance wellness outcomes for all of our participants. We also need to partner more with colleagues who can conduct research to further shape the way in which we program.
Another hallmark where we have a compelling impact is with the development of our students whether they are participants, employees, volunteers or leaders. I remember vividly my first introduction to student development theory, principles and practices and I’ve been totally enthralled ever since. This is our classroom … where we make contributions to learning by the way in which we design and deliver our programs and through the various opportunities we provide where students learn life skills.
We are incredibly fortunate to work in a setting where we get to engage with young adults at a time in life where they are making so many decisions about their career path and life-long values. I am constantly energized by their creativity, enthusiasm for involvement, and advocacy for improvements that drive so much of what we do. They have contributed so much to our organization and are the reason for our existence. On a personal level, they have enriched my life beyond words. One thing for sure, as I think about the future of our field, the value and extensiveness of our impact on student life will be determined most by the degree to which we improve the professional preparation and on-going development of recreational sport specialists.
Professionals in this field that are dedicated to improving what we do and how we do it. They are dedicated to serving others needs and interests; and, are dedicated to helping others grow and develop by openly sharing what they’ve learned. I’ve never seen another profession like this one where colleagues not only celebrate the success of others, but want to contribute to it.
There are so many ways to learn, serve, and experiment personally and professionally; and, there are countless opportunities to contribute something back to our field. Even if you’re not sure what that looks like for yourself just yet, at the very least you can encourage others who are trying to learn or contribute.
One of the most meaningful aspects of being in this field so long and having served one institution the whole time has been watching all the ways our alumni have served to advance our field whether it be as presenters, committee members, chairpersons, authors, conference hosts and leaders.
When I consider the contributions of these colleagues, as well as notable individuals throughout history, one of the shared attributes I see is summed up in the phrase servant-leader. Martin Luther King once noted that: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”