The NIRSA Annual Conference: Where the Sun and Future are Bright


It has been a couple of weeks since the NIRSA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. You know, just short enough to have your memories and experiences fresh in your mind, yet long enough to have that desire to return to beautiful, sunny weather. As an attendant of this conference, as well as many other symposiums and institutes over the years, the dedication and forward-thinking of our professionals and students continues to amaze me.

In my opinion, I feel we are currently in a time period where the emphasis of personal health and wellness is at an all-time high, and yet exposure and support for this component in campus life and recreation, while improving, continue to fall short with this phenomenon. Many universities and institutions have excellent programs and personnel in place to help reduce stress, teach positive habits for wellness, and encourage personal growth through experience and outcomes.

The frustrating part is that many times these same departments receive inadequate recognition or institutional assistance to help create a holistic experience for the campus community. That being said, my attendance to the NIRSA Annual Conference renews my faith in what we do as Campus Recreation professionals because of the dedication, passion and genuine care our colleagues show for our field.

This conference continues to put the most current information and hottest topics in campus life to the forefront for us to digest and evaluate. Whether we discuss inclusion in programing, risk management techniques in intramurals, active shooter protocol, or even keys to improving student employee output, the professionals in NIRSA are doing their due diligence to make sure we are constantly on top of current trends and national/global issues to not only continue making campus recreation relevant, but to also continue to emphasis the importance of campus recreation and its impact in the community. I never fail to take something away from the informational sessions I attend at the conference, and this year was no exception.

The added bonus of the conference is the unbelievable networking opportunities you encounter while in attendance. The fantastic weather, coupled with the energy of our attendees, allows for the perfect scenario of sitting down with old friends and new acquaintances and discussing philosophies of campus recreation and student life. This informal setting allows us to let more of our thoughts flow freely and exchange vital information that allows us to gain different perceptions and incorporate potential new ideas into our programing that we never get in a more organized and formal environment.

The most encouraging sight I saw this year at the National Conference? The vast number and array of students involved with NIRSA and campus recreation. Our field may be under-appreciated, but it is ever growing. We are seeing more and more students taking interest in our field, and displaying this passion in lead-on events and conference participation. It is humbling to encounter so many young individuals with the drive, talent and desire to work in this field and improve health and wellness for their peers.

When it comes to campus recreation, I can honestly say that this NIRSA Annual Conference is very reflective of its future: bright. If you are looking for an incredible opportunity to learn more about our field, and to experience the comradery and energy of campus recreation professionals, then I highly suggest attendance to the NIRSA National Conference. You will return to your job with a new outlook and zest for campus and student life.


Scott Flickinger is the Director of Intramural Sports at Cornell University. 

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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