Editor's Desk - February 2008
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The Not-So-Beaten Path

e finally got a good amount of snow—coupled with cold enough temperatures for it to stick around—this week, so despite the bitter sub-zero wind chill, I layered up and threw my skis and poles into the car, and headed down the road to one of the local forest preserve trails.

One of the rangers was out digging a path to the restroom from the parking lot. He looked up from his work, spotted me walking across the lot with my skis and poles in hand, and said, "First one out! You beat us to it, they'll be grooming out here in an hour or so."

Not knowing anyone else who's into cross-country skiing, I couldn't tell you if I'm the only one who feels this way, but I love skiing on ungroomed trails. That said, I also find it a lot more difficult when no one's carved out a path for me. When the local loop has been groomed, it usually takes me about 45 minutes to get from beginning to end. This time it took more than an hour, and my heart was pumping so hard, I swear I could hear it.

When I got back to the trail that leads in from the parking lot, another skier was just setting off with his Siberian Husky leading the way. He smiled at me and said, "You did a great job grooming the trail, thanks!"

"Happy to oblige," I responded as I headed for the car.

Sometimes it's nice to be the first one out—whether on skis or on a mission to improve people's access to recreation, sports and fitness options. There's definitely something to be said for the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit that has driven much of this country's success over the years.

Then again, sometimes it's more satisfying—and quicker—to learn from others, to avoid their mistakes and to ski in a well-groomed path. Building on the accomplishments of others is an essential part of inventiveness, and it's another crucial part of being a pioneer.

For all of you pioneering readers out there, we offer our State of the Industry Report, published in June of each year. Last year's report was the first time we comprehensively surveyed leaders throughout the managed recreation, sports and fitness industry to collect detailed information on what makes your facilities tick. This year, we plan to build on what we learned last year, and take some further steps, skiing out of the groomed trail to ask you more questions about your facilities, as well as your professional experience and salary information.

We hope you'll take part in our annual survey, which will be available sometime this month. We'll keep you posted and let you know when you can find it online.

And if you're interested in providing more detailed information, drop me a line at emily@recmanagement.com. Numbers can tell us a lot, but it's the people and the facilities behind the numbers that tell the real story about what's happening in the recreation, sports and fitness industry.

We hope the results of our survey will help you use others' experience—both at their facilities and in their professional lives—to help improve your own facilities and reach even greater heights in your career. From there, who knows what pioneering leap you might take?


Emily Tipping


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