6.0 - Programs and Services Management

A program is a means to leisure and recreation as well as a vehicle to deliver benefits to participants. High-quality programming is a dynamic process that continues as the recreation experience unfolds.

A systematic and well-researched analysis should be completed in determining what programs and services should be provided by the agency.  The public park and recreation program should be coordinated with related programs of other governmental, for-profit and non-profit organizations in the community, such as schools, voluntary agencies, and churches, to provide maximum coverage with a minimum of duplication, as well as to reduce competition.

The primary responsibility of the park and recreation professional is to provide programs by which leisure and recreation experiences and environments enhance the well-being and quality of life for participants. Certain program and service determinants give direction to what is provided and assessed. These determinants are: conceptual foundations of play, recreation, and leisure; agency philosophy, goals and objectives; constituent interests and desired needs; and community opportunities for the public.  Program and service objectives must be benefits-focused.  Many agencies put objectives in “SMART” format (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed) to assure that objectives are measurable and they use logic modeling to focus their objectives on outcomes and impacts.

The recreation programming plan includes all elements and services of the public park and recreation agency’s programming functions, including activity selection, type and scope of programs and outreach initiatives. While related to a master or comprehensive plan, the recreation programming plan shall be an outgrowth of other strategic and program forecasting tools.

Park and recreation agencies should have a program that educates the public about the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits that leisure (time, activity, experience) and participation in self-directed and leader-directed recreation activities provide. It should include the three (3) behavior domains: psychomotor (manipulation and coordination of physical skills and abilities), affective (interests, appreciations, attitudes and values) and cognitive (intellectual skills and abilities).

A leisure education program consists of six (6) components:

  1. Awareness of self in leisure;
  2. Appreciation of leisure;
  3. Understanding self-determination in leisure;
  4. Making decisions regarding leisure participation;
  5. Knowledge and use of resources for facilitating leisure; and
  6. Promoting social interaction. 

Examples include:

  • Cooperative agreements with local schools to develop classes, workshops or events to inform children and adolescents of leisure benefits.
  • Community presentations regarding leisure benefits at libraries, senior citizen centers, special recreation associations, and at business and industry meetings.
  • Distributing a “benefits” CD or website hyperlink to educate, publicize, and inform of agency programs and services through various social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and public cable TV channels.
  • Organizing and categorizing agency publications and photos according to the benefits associated with targeted programs and services, e.g., benefits of nature walks for senior populations and benefits of outdoor play for children.
  • Marketing and advertising the benefits message in agency telephone messages, employee newsletters, and policy manuals, on staff apparel, facility and vehicle signage.
  • Including benefit statements in brochures and program descriptions so that prospective participants will see what they can gain from participating in programs.
  • Including the question of “How have you benefited from this program?” in program evaluations, causing the participant to reflect on the benefits of the program.
  • Including the benefits of programs and services on agency websites and in email/e-blasts, press releases and public service announcements.
  • Conducting benefits-based program research studies.
  • Conducting and reporting follow-up assessments and data analyses.