Three Elements to Running a Successful Recreation Program


The New Year is fast approaching, which means a new semester will be starting in a few weeks. During this time off, students are home enjoying the holidays, taking a break from school. This means your recreation center is probably a little quieter than normal and you have a lull in programming.

This is the perfect time to evaluate fall programming and determine what can be improved for the new semester. To help, Brian Mills, the assistant director of recreational sports and family programming at the University of Houston, shares some advice.

Three Elements to Running a Successful Recreation Program

Flexibility — According to Mills, flexibility has to become one of the most important things for any successful program to maintain its relevance to students. “I have been doing this since 1999 and am finishing my 15th year as a professional,” said Mills. “Almost everything has changed and the ‘old ways’ aren’t always the best ways. From the ways we market to participants to the way we recruit student officials, how we train and develop supervisors, to how we handle disciplinary issues, you have to be flexible and open to change.”

Foster Relationships — As Mills explained it is essential to build strong relationships among staff, co-workers and participants. “You can be the best graduate assistant, the greatest director, or the greatest manager, but if you can’t build relationships up and down your organization and your university, you will struggle to maintain success,” he added. “Most students today need to have more of a relationship with co-workers and supervisors to have that buy-in to their job. They have more of a need to feel like they serve a purpose and have a role in the success of the program more than ever. As professionals, we have to acknowledge the differences in students wants and needs from the employment aspect and we have to work to create a high performing, high-achieving student staff to have program success.”

Dedication – As campus recreation professionals impacting the lives of students, it is crucial to remain dedicated to improving the programs and services that are provided within the department. According to Mills is it essential to strive to be a better professional each and every day.

“We are the most exciting experience that students might have on campus in their entire college career. We provide programs where lifelong friendships are created and nurtured,” said Mills. “It takes dedication to keep those things in mind when we get asked the same questions for the 10th time in the middle of the semester during the fifth year we have been in our job. We have to be dedicated to our values as a professional and remind ourselves every day that this may be the only interaction we have with that one student and that interaction could make or break their involvement in anything else on campus.”

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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