Everyone benefits from an active community with opportunities to play sports and other forms of activities. Without the work of recreation directors, organizations including community centers would not be able to organize and deliver programs. These leaders build activity schedules and ensure participants have a safe, enjoyable experience.
Recreation directors have often gained valuable experience in a lesser capacity such as an instructor, counselor or program manager. They have first-hand experience working with participants and understand the basics of how to operate a service-based organization that is much like a small business. It's possible to find work with a high school diploma or equivalent, while some recreation directors possess a bachelor's or master's degree with a concentration in recreation, facility management or other focus.
Duties and Responsibilities
A recreation director is responsible for researching, planning and implementing programmed physical activities for individuals or groups. They typically hire and manage a team of instructors and managers to help implement individual programs. Training staff is sometimes the responsibility of the director and is an important function, since the physical nature of the work and use of sporting equipment can create safety concerns. Their choice of programs and activities must meet the demands of the community they serve.
Most work is full-time and can be found at community centers, recreation facilities, camps and schools. Recreation directors may work with a range of age groups including children and seniors. A youth summer basketball league or a bridge club for seniors are examples of programs with different demographics. Directors may work in an office setting, but often circulate throughout the facility or go outside to observe programs. The physical environment and equipment must also be checked regularly.
Drawing on their experience, recreation directors should be highly organized and detail oriented, as scheduling and staff management dictate these needs. They should have a passion for working with people and healthy living, as these traits are useful in motivating their teams and participants. A lead-by-example approach is valuable in getting people engaged. Financial management is also critical, as directors operate within a budget and may have control over it. Delivering year-long programs that meet community needs must be projected and managed effectively.