Local residents are the primary stakeholder for municipal parks and recreation who have the potential to influence funding and policy through their participation, voting, and advocacy. Research has suggested that individuals are more likely to support parks and recreation and view them as essential when they perceive they provide benefits that address their own as well as broader community needs. This panel study investigated Pennsylvania residents and the extent they considered parks and recreation an essential community service during the COVID-19 pandemic. It further assessed the rationale for why parks and recreation were considered either essential or non-essential during this time period. A majority of respondents (54%) felt local parks and recreation were an essential service in their community during the pandemic based primarily on their perceived contributions to physical health, mental health and wellbeing, and the safe provision of recreation opportunities. Conversely, parks and recreation were considered non-essential when they had been closed, when individuals were unsure of what services were actually provided during the pandemic, or they were perceived as unsafe or unsanitary given the presence of COVID-19. Findings provide evidence of the contributions provided by local parks and recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic and suggest influenceable factors associated with perceptions of whether parks and recreation are an essential community service.
Complications associated with a complex chronic illness, specifically, type 1 diabetes, negatively impact youth as they struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles. Type 1 diabetes is the second most common chronic illness affecting youth as well as one of the most psychologically and behaviorally demanding illnesses. Fortunately, organized camps have been shown to positively influence long-term outcomes for youth. Family Diabetes Camp, the only family medical program in the state where this study occurred, was created in collaboration with a local university, a diabetes center at a hospital, and a chapter of the Lions Club. This collaborative camp program aimed to test the effect of active participation in a Family Diabetes Camp upon youth outcomes for campers with type 1 diabetes. Specifically, the purpose was to evaluate the impact of a collaborative medical camp on campers’ resilience and youth developmental outcomes (e.g., independence). Family Diabetes Camp was designed using Outcome-Focused Programming (OFP) to promote positive youth development. The Family Diabetes Camp included 50 campers for the pre-test and post-test (n= 19 males and n= 31 females). While there were no statistically significant differences from pretest (M=4.97, SD= .53) to post-test scores (M=5.01, SD= .46), with t(50) = -.56, p= .57) researchers found a slight increase in resilience from pre to post-test. Using a retrospective measure, campers showed gains in the seven critical youth development outcomes identified by the American Camp Association. Finally, campers learned new knowledge about site injection, carbohydrate counting, and the use of exercise to help manage their diabetes. The impact associated with adapting activities and an environment to encourage, analyze, and challenge resilient behaviors is essential in encouraging independence, shared experiences, and effective disease management for youth living with type 1 diabetes. The camp, solely staffed by volunteers, included physicians, diabetes educators, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, dietitians, nurses, pump specialists, recreation professionals and students, and Lions Club Members. The camp program is unique not only in how it fills a void for youth with type 1 diabetes but how three large organizations work in concert to meet the needs of entire families. These types of data can be instrumental in establishing more camps and other out of school time programming that positively impacts quality of life, health care cost, and mortality among youth with type 1 diabetes.
Concessioners play an important role in park and protected area management by providing visitor services. Historically, concessioners were criticized for their negative impacts on environmental sustainability. However, due to policy changes, technological advances, and shifting market demands, there is a need to reevaluate the role of concessioners in sustainable destination management in and around parks and protected areas. The purpose of this qualitative case study situated in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP), which was guided by social exchange theory, was to explore U.S. national park concessioners’ influence on sustainable development at the destination level from the perspective of National Park Service (NPS) staff, concessioners, and local community members. Sustainability was examined holistically as a multifaceted construct with integrated socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental dimensions. Twenty-three participants completed semistructured interviews. Researchers identified four thematic categories describing concessioners’ influence on sustainability; motivations and barriers to pursuing sustainability initiatives; and situational factors that facilitated concessioners’ sustainability actions. While participants commented on the negative environmental impacts of concessioners and their operations, these data suggest that concessioners were working individually and collaboratively to promote environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural sustainability in and around GTNP. Some concessioners were even described as leaders, testing and driving the development of innovative sustainability policies and practices. These actions were motivated, in part, by contractual obligations and profit generation. However, concessioners also had strong intangible motivators, such as intrinsic values and a strong sense of community, that drove their positive contributions to sustainability. Based on these data, we recommend that those involved in future theoretical and practical work with concessioners acknowledge the importance of both tangible and intangible motivators when attempting to promote higher levels of sustainability achievement and collaboration. This will become increasingly important as land management agencies continue to embrace strategies beyond the traditional “parks as islands” approach to management. Additionally, future work should explore more specifically the role of policy, conceptualizations of sustainability, and private industry sponsorship in promoting concessioners’ contributions to sustainability, especially in collaborative settings. This work is needed to understand if and how these observations generalize to other contexts.
Dietary intake is influenced by multiple systems, as highlighted in the Social- Ecological Model, including community influences like community programs. In this context, parks and recreation administrators may have a role in the types of snacks and beverages provided during youth sports. The current study focused on understanding park administrators’ experiences relative to the youth sports environment, including their responsibility and influence on the food environment. This was an exploratory qualitative case study conducted in Utah. Semi-structured interviews with parks and recreation administrators were completed via phone by a research assistant. A qualitative case study analysis was conducted by two researchers. In addition to the interviews, the websites of all the park and recreation sites were searched and phone calls were made to check physical locations for nutrition fliers/information. Three themes emerged through qualitative case study analysis. The first theme was the administrators’ role in the youth parks and recreation activities. The second theme was the administrators’ awareness of the food environment within youth sports. The final theme was the administrators’ role in influencing more nutritious snacks at these youth sporting activities. The results from this case study suggest that the parks and recreation administrators within Utah valued the importance of nutritional snacks and beverages within youth sporting activities and were supportive of the food environment improving. Several of the parks and recreation administrators in this study agreed that their further involvement (i.e., guidelines on snacks and beverages) in the youth sports food environment could improve the environment and better effect youth who are participating, thus enhancing opportunities to improve overall health and well-being. The results from this study show that administrators could bring awareness to youth sports nutrition and support guidelines for the types of snacks and beverages brought to youth sporting activities. Administrators could work with dietitians to develop information that would be appropriate to distribute to youth sports participants and parents. Providing information about what kinds of snacks to bring has the possibility to improve the conditions of the youth sports food environment. Additionally, consideration for policy changes in youth sports and recreation center facilities could be explored.
Municipal drawdowns at public reservoirs can negatively impact recreational uses on site. Therefore, sustaining recreation requires understanding how users relate themselves with the reservoir and the resource therein, and how they will respond to circumstances and policies impacting the resource. Researchers use placedbased theory, particularly sense of place (SOP), to assess the user community’s perspective on the natural resource or recreation site of interest. This study utilized visitor survey data (n=282) from Canton Reservoir in Oklahoma to assess visitors’ sense of place (SOP), and to evaluate the relationship of SOP with their acceptability of alternative water allocation strategies and future intention of visiting the reservoir under depleted water conditions. Visitors had a high level of SOP with the reservoir and supported protective water allocation strategies that either favor the retention of water on-site or ensure a fair distribution between recreation and municipal use. Results suggest a positive relationship between visitors' SOP and their intended trips to the reservoir even under depleted water conditions. The findings highlight the psychological, functional, and emotional benefits associated with the recreational use of the Canton Reservoir, which will in turn help managers make more informed and balanced decisions about water conservation and allocation. Insights from this study will also contribute in literature on the sense of place and protective norms and offers several implications for the management of public reservoirs.
The summer months have recently been identified as a time of the year when children gain excess weight. Despite contrary beliefs, youth are more susceptible to weight gain and fitness losses during this time. Summer camps have been identified as a possible solution to reduce declines in overall health during these months. The purpose of this study was to establish expected step counts and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) values for a variety of activities in one residential camp. Participants included 188 campers (M age = 8.7). Sessions included a variety of invasion, target, net/wall and fitness activities. Step counts and MVPA were tracked across 51 days, incorporating 839 activity sessions using a NL–1000 (New Lifestyle Inc., Lee Summit, MO, USA) accelerometer to track campers’ activity. Means and steps/minute were calculated for each activity. Invasion games represented the greatest opportunity for campers to engage in physical activity. Findings are useful for researchers and practitioners to evaluate physical activity and MVPA at camp settings.
The National Park Service (NPS) is the federal land management agency responsible for 423 units across the United States. Many of these parks are considered iconic cultural and environmental landscapes. However, scholarship from a number of disciplinary approaches has positioned the national parks and their management as problematic, particularly from Indigenous and racial justice concerns. National parks, like many cultural landscapes in the U.S., are infused with racial relations, with unpleasant histories and contemporary experiences that have both subtle instances of marginalization and explicit episodes of material violence. Recent developments in racial justice movements raise fundamental questions for the social and political maintenance, stewardship, and sustainability of the NPS. In a critical approach that centers whiteness as a lens of institutional critique, we consider the ways that the NPS could more critically engage with racial justice approaches in its planning and management. After acknowledging that histories of U.S. national parks as spaces designed for White, upper class people led to the displacement and marginalization of Indigenous and people of color, we look to contemporary avenues for increased racial justice. Through both local, small-scale initiatives and agency-wide, national policies, we consider how racial justice movements are both expectant and galvanized in this moment, providing a setting for the NPS to redress and make amends for previous harms and missed opportunities. Specifically, we identify recent federal and institutional policy and legislation as promising mandates for progress. We identify specific place-based tactics used by individual NPS units, such as renaming parks and geographic features, or interpretation that is both more accurate and more inclusive of marginalized populations. Our research examines planning and management as potential strategic practices that can more fully highlight and progress racial justice. We offer a range of specific questions that might guide more inclusive planning and management work in the NPS. Finally, we encourage the NPS, as an institution, as well as individual park units, to support contemporary racial justice movements, while simultaneously adhering to the agency’s historical dual mandate.
Within the United States parks and recreation agencies (P&R) manage public facilities, spaces, lands, and recreation programs. Public health (PH) evidence has increasingly pointed to local public P&R agencies as critical for promoting preventive health. Programs and strategies are available, but most P&R agencies have limited resources and lack local knowledge on which to base actions. However, the research base is growing. The global research question has shifted from asking IF P&R agencies can positively affect PH factors, to HOW they can best do so with limited resources.This research adapted a systems theory approach to how local public P&R agencies are addressing health factors. Methods included a literature review along with iterative exploration through a three-stage Delphi panel study with 17 P&R agency Expert Panelists in the U.S and Canada. Panelists were identified through a waterfall selection process. Each had at least three years of senior administration experience with interest in addressing PH factors.The study explored which preventive factors appear to be most modifiable by P&R. Results indicated increased physical activity, improved nutrition, enhanced safety or perception of safety, increased social and parental engagement, improved transportation and access to locations (especially nature), and cessation or reduced overconsumption of tobacco and alcohol. However, the priority of factors varies by community, and the continuing challenge is determining the priority of the factors for agencies and their partners to address. Community-specific data are not typically readily available to P&R agencies. Programs, strategies, internal methods, policies, and documents utilized by agencies were collected. Thirty-one related national initiatives (programs) were identified and ranked by the panelists.Key common strategies for P&R were identified. Results indicated a need to focus strategies on leadership and adequate funding to create a strong organizational culture of systematic assessment for addressing PH through allocation of P&R staff and financial resources. Systems thinking analysis and strategies can improve outcomes for cultural ethics of inclusion and equity, equitable access to assets and programs, collaboration with other partners, utilization of crime prevention and environmental design strategies, increased health promotions and education, and centralized tracking and evaluation of feasible measures.Implications for research include needs for additional validation and dissemination of research, evidence-based tools, and proven methods. There continues to be a strong need to help address gaps in knowledge transfer between research and practice realms. Management implications suggest methods for practice to enhance systems-thinking approaches for better preventive health outcomes through P&R in communities.
The Great American Outdoors Act (AGOA) fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the first time since it was created in 1964. This is a boon for purchasing conservation lands, but equally important, the act provides funding to address massive federal agency recreation infrastructure backlogs. The last major overhaul of the U.S. parks and outdoor recreation system was over 50 years ago, during the era of Mission 66 and related programs. Since that time, a host of environmental and societal changes necessitates new approaches for updating conservation and recreation opportunities. In addition to acquiring critical park and conservation lands, and developing and updating facilities, new park and recreation goals include increasing public use and visitor diversity and advancing environmental justice, public health, and large-scale conservation goals. Integrated systems analyses are needed to address these diverse concerns across landscapes, regions, and jurisdictions, and new interagency and interdisciplinary approaches will be needed. This is a bureaucratic crossroads: for the first time in decades we can truly advance public access, human health, and social equity values of public lands; the GAOA is a critical process step toward, but not the culmination of, this goal.
Local park and recreation agencies supply a variety of community-based services, often at little or no direct cost to users. To supplement tax-based allocations, many agencies rely on partnerships with park foundations, nonprofit organizations that directly support park and recreation service delivery. Despite their prevalence and importance, there is a lack of empirical evidence about the agency-foundation (AF) relationship; this project begins to address this need, and seeks to inform the efforts of professionals navigating these partnerships. Results from a survey of National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) member agencies (n = 235) illustrated that these partnerships are generally viewed as close, effective, and strong, and of particular value relevant to “big picture” agency activities such as fundraising and community engagement. A comparison of communities indicates that the AF relationship is more common in larger communities, and among larger and more complex agencies. Practical implications for practitioners and potential directions for future research are discussed.