2007 REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE MANAGED RECREATION INDUSTRY

General Survey Results


F
rom the child swinging on the school playground, to the teen climbing a wall at the community center, to the professional working out on the elliptical machine and weight circuit at the local health club, to the retiree biking on a countywide system of trails, the reach of recreation is vast. We look to recreation, sports and fitness facilities to help us get more active, to strengthen our sense of community, to educate our children about sportsmanship, leadership and more-so much more.

Stepping back from the specifics to take a broader view-to look at the forest, rather than the individual trees-can give us a good idea of where things stand in the managed recreation industry. It can help the local park district director benchmark her facilities against others across the nation. It allows the owner of a health club on the west coast to compare staffing issues and operations costs to others in his area, and in the same types of community. It allows the YMCA director in SmallTown USA to see what's big in the big city, and up the ante in terms of offerings for local patrons. It can give us new ideas for creative programming, as well as reassure us that we're staying on top of all the latest and greatest goings-on. It gives us a place to go to see what's hot, as well as what's up-and-coming at other facilities. Splash play areas? Check. Park structures, trails and playgrounds? Check. Mind-body programming and more focused fitness for teens and older adults? Check.

To gauge the state of the managed recreation industry-from parks and recreation departments to universities, schools, YMCAs, health clubs and more, we asked our readership to take part in a confidential survey. We asked them about every aspect of their operations-from costs and budgets to staffing and certification, from planned upgrades and amenities to programming choices. Survey respondents were invited to participate via e-mail and fax, and ultimately, nearly 2,000 people responded.

The results of that survey, as well as analysis from our editorial team and experts across the country, are gathered here in this special report. Read on to learn more about where you stand in the industry today.

About Our Respondents

People from the industry from across the United States answered our questions, with a handful representing international facilities. The largest number (31.9 percent) were from the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin).

The next largest group in terms of representation were the Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming), with 19.5 percent.

The Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) was represented by 19.2 percent of respondents.

South Atlantic states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia, made up 15.7 percent of respondents.

Another 12.7 percent of respondents came from South Central states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas).

Finally, 1 percent of respondents represent international facilities (many of which include military installations or bases overseas). (See Figure 1.)


Respondents also came from a variety of communities, from urban centers to rural areas. The largest number of respondents (42.7 percent) were from suburban communities. Another 32 percent were from rural areas, while just over a quarter (25.3 percent) work for facilities in urban areas. (See Figure 2.)


More than two-thirds of the respondents (67.1 percent) work for public organizations. This includes parks and recreation departments, as well as other government entities like forest preserves, city government, public works and more, in addition to schools and school districts, military installations and public universities. The next largest group of respondents work for private nonprofit organizations. These include such facilities as YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs and many more. Another 13.5 percent of respondents work for private for-profit organizations like health clubs and corporate recreation centers. (See Figure 3.)


Many types of facilities were represented by survey respondents.

The largest number (41.2 percent) of survey respondents represent parks and recreation departments and local publicly-owned community recreation or sports centers. Colleges and universities represent nearly 17 percent of the respondents, while schools and school districts made up a little more than 11 percent. YMCAs and health clubs made up nearly 9 percent of the respondents. More specific information on each of these four constituencies can be found in special sections on the pages that follow. (See Parks & Recreation Departments, Colleges and Universities, Schools and School Districts and YMCAs and Health Clubs.) Because well over half of the facilities included aquatic options-from indoor swimming pools to outdoor splash play areas, pools and waterparks, we report on aquatic trends throuought the issue.

The next largest group of survey respondents (6.7 percent) work for camps and camping facilities, including campgrounds, private camps, youth camps and RV parks. Resorts and resort hotels, as well as private and corporate recreation and sports centers, each make up 2.8 percent of survey respondents. The remainder of respondents work for military installations (2.6 percent), golf clubs or country clubs (2 percent), waterparks, theme parks and amusement parks (1.1 percent), ice rinks (0.7 percent), racquet or tennis clubs (0.5 percent), and stadiums, arenas and tracks (0.4 percent). (See Figure 4.) Another 2.5 percent of respondents work for facilities that are not so easily classified, including several ski areas, senior centers, churches, environmental learning centers, adventure and challenge course facilities and one yacht club.


In the managed recreation, sports and fitness market, partnerships often form across organizational boundaries-whether it's to increase funding potential or to improve programming options. Most of the survey respondents (85.8 percent) have found one way or another to partner with other organizations to accomplish their missions. Only 14.2 percent of respondents do not partner at all.

The most common partners include local schools (55.5 percent of respondents partner with local schools), local government (46.7 percent), nonprofit organizations (41.8 percent), corporate or local businesses (34.5 percent) and state government (33.7 percent). (See Figure 5.)


The organizations least likely to form partnerships with other external organizations were private, for-profit organizations, with 42.7 percent not partnering at all.

Local schools were particularly favored as partners by parks and recreation departments, 78.3 percent of which reported forming such partnerships. YMCAs also were highly likely to partner with local schools. More than four in five YMCAs surveyed said they had formed such partnerships.

Local government is a popular partner across many facility categories, with parks and recreation departments most commonly choosing these entities for partnership opportunities. More than 67 percent of parks and recreation departments in the survey listed local government as a partner. YMCAs and school districts also commonly partner with local government, with 57.7 percent and 54.3 percent reporting such partnerships, respectively.

Colleges and universities commonly partner among themselves-with 55.8 percent of colleges and universities reporting such partnerships. YMCAs also were likely to form partnerships with colleges and universities, with 56.7 percent of YMCAs reporting such a situation.

More than 5 percent of respondents listed other partners that were not included in the survey, such as associations like the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the American Camp Association and specific sport-related organizations like the Professional Golf Association (PGA), among others; civic groups like Rotary International, Lions and Elks Clubs; faith-based organizations; outfits like the Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts; the Special Olympics; and local and state tourism boards.

Most likely to form partnerships were YMCAs, with 100 percent of these organizations reporting that they partnered with external organizations. Parks and recreation departments also partner to a high degree, with 96.3 percent of respondents reporting that they partner with external organizations. Military installations, schools and school districts, and colleges and universities also reported a high degree of partnership, with 90.9 percent, 90.9 percent and 81.7 percent of respondents in each respective category reporting external partnerships of some kind.

The facilities least likely to form partnerships with external organizations included resorts and resort hotels (48.8 percent of which partner with external organizations), waterparks, amusement parks and theme parks (52.4 percent) and campgrounds, youth camps, private camps and RV parks (61.9 percent). (See Figure 6.)


Patronage & Budgets

Concurrent with population increases and rising costs for everything from fuel to food, it would be expected that the number of people using most facilities would increase, as would budgetary requirements and fees for facility usage. This supposition bears out in the research, with most respondents reporting an increasing number of facility users, along with increasing operating costs.

The majority of respondents (93.8 percent) reported that the number of people using their facilities either had not changed or had increased from 2005 to 2006. More than 30 percent reported no change in patronage of their facilities, while 63.2 percent reported an increase in usage for that year. Increasing numbers of respondents are anticipating increasing numbers of patrons leading up to the year 2008. From 2006 to 2007, 66 percent of survey respondents expect the number of people using their facilities to increase, while less than one-third (29.6 percent) expect no change in those numbers. From 2007 to 2008, 70.1 percent of respondents expect their usage numbers to increase, while 27.4 percent anticipate no change. Only 2.5 percent of respondents are anticipating a decrease in facility visits for that year. (See Figure 7.)


Parks and recreation departments were more likely than the average respondent to be anticipating increases in the number of people visiting their facilities over the next several years. Between 2005 and 2006, 68.7 percent said they had seen an increase, and 26 percent said they had seen no change. Between 2006 and 2007, 69.1 percent were anticipating an increase, with 27.6 percent expecting no change. And for 2007 to 2008, nearly three-quarters (74.2 percent) were expecting to see an increase in the number of people using their facilities, with 24.1 percent expecting no change. Only 1.8 percent of respondents from parks and recreation departments expected to see any decrease in the number of people using their facilities in 2008.

YMCAs also skewed well above average. Nearly 68 percent saw an increase in usage of their facilities from 2005 to 2006, but many more are expecting increases for 2007 and 2008. From 2006 to 2007, nearly 80 percent of respondents from YMCAs expect the number of people using their facilities to increase. From 2007 to 2008, that number jumps to nearly 86 percent.

Schools and school districts were much less likely to be anticipating increases, and much more likely to be expecting no changes in usage, than the average respondent. From 2005 to 2006, 47.8 percent of schools said they had seen an increase, with 46.2 percent seeing no change. Those numbers don't change much for the following years. Less than 50 percent of school districts expect increases in 2007 or in 2008.

Many facilities charge a fee for their patrons, whether it's a health club membership fee, a baseball field usage fee or a one-time charge for an educational program at the local community center. Still other facilities charge no fee at all for using their facilities.

More than three out of five respondents (62.7 percent) report charging a membership or usage fee for people taking part in programs or using their facilities. Some 37.3 percent said they do not charge a fee for patrons to use their facilities or take part in their programming. (See Figure 8.)


The facilities that were most likely to charge a fee included YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs, 100 percent of which said they charge a fee. Also highly likely to charge a fee for usage were sports and health clubs (96.7 percent). The facilities least likely to charge for membership or usage were schools and school districts (21.5 percent of which reported charging a membership or usage fee) and military installations (one-third of which reported charging fees).

As with the expected increases in the number of people using recreation, sports and fitness facilities, the fees these facilities charge for usage or membership are generally expected to increase or remain the same between 2005 and 2008. While 55.9 percent of respondents did not change their fee from 2005 to 2006, 53.7 percent are anticipating an increase in fees from 2007 to 2008. Very few respondents are planning to decrease their fees over the next several years. (See Figure 9.)


Not surprisingly, private for-profit organizations were most likely to anticipate fee increases from 2005 to 2008, while public organizations were least likely to anticipate fee increases. Only 37.2 percent of public organizations increased their fees from 2005 to 2006, and less than half plan to increase their fees from 2006 to 2007 (41.5 percent) and from 2007 to 2008 (49.6 percent). Private, for-profit organizations were more likely to be anticipating fee increases, with more than half (56.1 percent) having implemented fee increases from 2005 to 2006, 65.7 percent planning an increase from 2006 to 2007, and 62.1 percent planning an increase from 2007 to 2008. (See Figure 10.)


Campgrounds, private camps and RV parks, as well as YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs were most likely to increase their fees between 2005 and 2006, and are the most likely to increase them from 2006 to 2007 as well. Just under 70 percent of camping-related facilities (69.2 percent) and just under 65 percent of YMCAs (64.6 percent) increased the fee for their facilities between 2005 and 2006. More than three-quarters of camping facilities planned a fee increase from 2006 to 2007, while 68.8 percent of YMCAs planned a fee increase for this year.

Not only were military installations, schools and school districts, and colleges and universities the least likely to charge a fee for membership or usage of their facilities, they also were the least likely to increase that fee from 2005 to 2006 and from 2006 to 2007. However, among schools and universities, anticipated fee increases jumped fairly significantly for the year 2007 to 2008, with 40 percent of schools and 53 percent of universities anticipating a fee increase for that year. (See Figure 11.)


Revenue for all types of facilities was generally on the rise from 2005 to 2006, with 54.3 percent of facilities seeing higher revenues than the previous year, 37.4 percent seeing the same revenue levels as the previous year, and 8.3 percent seeing lower revenues. From 2006 to 2007, projected revenues are expected to increase at an even higher rate, with 60.6 percent of respondents anticipating revenue increases. Between 2007 and 2008, 64.4 percent of respondents expected increases in their revenue. Less than 5 percent of respondents are anticipating lower revenue for that time frame. (See Figure 12.)


YMCAs and health clubs are anticipating the greatest revenue increases over the next several years. Nearly three-quarters of these facilities (73.6 percent) saw an increase in revenue between 2005 and 2006. Nearly four out of five of these facilities projected higher revenues for 2007, and 83 percent expect even higher revenue in 2008.

Publicly funded facilities, including schools and school districts, colleges and universities, and military installations were the least likely to experience revenue increases for 2006 over the year 2005-26.9 percent of schools, 41.7 percent of universities and 45.7 percent of military installations saw a higher level of revenue in 2006 than in 2005.

Parks and recreation departments fell somewhere in the middle, with 57.3 percent experiencing a revenue increase for 2006, 65.1 percent anticipating an increase for 2007, and 68.8 percent projecting an increase for 2008.


While the majority of facilities spent less than $2 million on operating expenditures in fiscal year 2006, the number that spend more than $2 million will increase from 24.7 percent in 2006 to more than 27 percent in 2008. (See Figure 13.) The average operating expenditure across the board reported for fiscal 2006 was $1,180,986. This number is projected to increase by 8.19 percent between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2008, to a projected $1,277,765, on average. (See Figure 14.)


The highest yearly operating expenditures were reported by YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs, which reported an average yearly operating expenditure for fiscal 2006 of $1,946,875. Furthermore, these facilities are anticipating an increase of 11.3 percent in operating expenditure, to $2,166,570 by fiscal 2008.

Parks and recreation departments had the second highest average yearly operating expenditure, but it bears mentioning that many of these departments operate multiple parks and facilities, so their operating budgets are likely spread thinner than many of the other facility types, which generally operate a single facility. Parks and recreation departments are anticipating a lower-than-average increase in operating expenditures of 7.8 percent, from $1,359,254 in fiscal 2006 to $1,465,897 on average in fiscal 2008. (See Figure 15.)


Camping-related facilities had the lowest average annual operating expenditures, just $838,149 in fiscal 2006. This grouping is comprised of campgrounds and RV parks, as well as youth and private camps. Campgrounds and RV parks had substantially lower-than-average operating expenditures, just $554,688 for fiscal 2006.

The sharpest increases in operating expenditures are expected among waterparks, amusement parks and theme parks. On average, these facilities projected a 19 percent increase in operating expenditures between fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2008, from $852,951 on average in 2006 to $1,015,104 on average in 2008. Military installations were anticipating a 16.5 percent increase in yearly operating expenditures for the same period.

The smallest increases in operating expenditures were anticipated by resorts and resort hotels. These facilities expected their average yearly operating expenditure to increase only 2.6 percent between 2006 and 2008, from $1,349,359 in fiscal 2006 to $1,384,375 in fiscal 2008.

Recreation at work

From the popcorn vendor in the concession stand to the lifeguard at poolside to the director of operations, recreation, sports and fitness facilities employ a wide range of workers, and we asked some specific questions about the types of employees that make up their workforce.

On average, respondents employ 240.5 workers, including full-timers, part-timers, seasonal employees and volunteers. This number is expected to increase by 10.1 percent by 2008, to 264.7 employees. This increase will be driven largely by a jump in volunteer numbers, particularly among park and recreation departments.

The number of full-time, part-time and seasonal employees will change very little in the next couple of years. The average number of full-time employees is expected to increase by just 4.1 percent, from 72.3 currently to 75.3 in 2008. The number of part-time employees will see a smaller increase of 2.9 percent, from 58 on average currently to 59.7 in 2008. The number of seasonal employees will remain virtually unchanged, with an increase of just 0.2 percent from the current number of 51.1 to the projected number of 51.2 for 2008.

On the other hand, the number of volunteers is expected to climb substantially, with an increase of 36.7 percent between the current number of 53.7 volunteers to the projected 73.4 volunteers in 2008. (See Figure 16.)


Resorts and resort hotel facilities employ the greatest number of people, with an average of 395.4 currently. This number is expected to increase by 12.1 percent to 443.3 in 2008. Health clubs and sports clubs employ the smallest number of workers, with just 109.3 on average currently, expected to jump by nearly 7 percent to 116.8 in 2008.

The greatest increases in number of employees are expected among waterparks, amusement parks and theme parks, closely followed by parks and recreation departments. Waterparks and amusement parks project a 21.1 percent increase in total number of employees from 185.1 on average currently to 224.1 on average in 2008. Parks and recreation departments reported a 20.5 percent increase in the number of employees expected by 2008, from 269.5 currently to 324.7 in 2008.

Military installations are anticipating the sharpest decline in numbers of employees between now and 2008. On average, these facilities currently employ 158.9 staff, but that number is expected to decrease by 34.2 percent to 104.5 in 2008. Camping-related facilities are also expecting a decrease in numbers of employees, largely driven by a decrease at youth camps and private camps. This portion of the camping facility grouping is anticipating a 12.9 percent decrease in employees from 256.9 to 223.7 on average by 2008. (See Figure 17.)


Schools and school districts employed the largest number of full-time staff members, with 305.3 full-time employees, on average. YMCAs employed the most part-time workers, with 158.9 part-time employees on average. The major employers of seasonal workers included waterparks, amusement parks and theme parks, with 132 seasonal workers on average. Also more likely to employ seasonal workers were youth camps and private camps (with an average of 99.6 seasonal employees) and parks and recreation departments (with 88.2 seasonal employees on average). Volunteer workers were most likely to be found at YMCAs, youth and private camps, and parks and recreation departments, with 139.4 volunteer workers, 138 volunteers, and 92.5 volunteers on average, respectively.

Regionally, the greatest average numbers of employees currently can be found in the South Atlantic states, whose facilities employ 307.5 workers on average. These states also project the sharpest increase in number of employees-an increase of 45.4 percent to 447 on average expected in 2008. Much smaller increases are anticipated in the West, which expects to see a 5.3 percent increase in number of employees to 292.4 on average in 2008, and in the Midwest, which is anticipating virtually no change in number of employees between now and 2008, from 233.5 to 234 on average. Facilities located in the Northeast are actually anticipating a 1.5 percent decline in number of employees between now (171.7) and 2008 (169.2). (For more information on trends in recreation, sports and fitness facilities by region, click here.)

Facilities located in urban communities employ the largest number of workers, with 318.3 workers on average currently employed at these facilities. They also are expecting the sharpest increase (29.8 percent) in number of employees between now and 2008.

Facilities in rural communities-which employ about half the number of people as their urban counterparts-are anticipating a slight decrease in number of employees between now and 2008. (For more information on trends in recreation, sports and fitness facilities in different types of communities, click here.)

Certifications represent a common way for many facilities to determine whether employees are capable of performing up to an expected standard, particularly among such professionals as lifeguards, fitness instructors and managers of aquatic facilities. Altogether, 82.9 percent of facilities surveyed require certification of some kind for their staff members. Among those who currently do not require certifications, another 16.9 percent plan to do so in the future. (See Figure 18.)


The facilities most likely to require certifications include YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs. A full 100 percent of these respondents said they require certifications of their staff members. Health clubs and sports clubs were also highly likely to require certifications, with 98.4 percent of these facilities currently requiring certification. The least likely to require certification included resorts and resort hotels, 67.3 percent of which currently require some type of certification, and waterparks, amusement parks and theme parks, 71.4 percent of which currently require certification. (See Figure 19.) However, it should be noted that 100 percent of respondents working for waterpark facilities said they require certification of their staff members.


The most common types of certifications required by facilities of all kinds are generally related to aquatics and fitness. Lifeguard certifications are the most popular, with 65.7 percent of respondents requiring that type of certification for their staff members. Aquatic management and pool certifications are required by 46.1 percent of respondents. Personal training and fitness certifications are required by 41.3 percent. (See Figure 20.)


Many other types of certifications were listed, including law enforcement and ranger certifications, wilderness-related certifications, ski instruction certifications, canoeing-related certifications, challenge-course-related certifications, massage therapy certifications, and many more.

Facility Planning

With new recreation centers popping up on college campuses, new health clubs providing more fitness options on street corners across the nation and new parks and sports fields abounding, it's no surprise that the majority of survey respondents have some kind of plan to create new and improved facilities.

More than three-quarters of respondents reported that they have plans to either build new facilities, add to their existing facilities or renovate their existing facilities within the next three years. Only 24.9 percent currently do not have plans to build over the next several years. (See Figure 21.)


More than one-quarter of respondents are planning to spend at least $5 million on those new and renovated facilities, with 15.1 percent planning to spend $10 million or more. More than a third (38.5 percent) are planning to spend less than $500,000 on their facility plans. (See Figure 22.)


On average, facilities are planning to spend nearly $3.8 million on new facilities, additions and renovations over the next several years. That number skews much higher for some categories, with colleges and universities planning the greatest expenditures on new facilities, additions and renovations. The smallest expenditures will be made by campgrounds, private camps, youth camps and RV parks, which are planning to spend $988,523 on average. (See Figure 23.)


Interestingly, public organizations are planning to spend 125.9 percent more on their new facilities, additions and renovations than private, for-profit organizations. Public organizations are planning to spend $4,226,246 on average, while private, for-profit organizations are planning to spend $1,870,808. Falling in between the two were private nonprofit organizations, which are planning to spend $3,572,835 on average. (See Figure 24.)


Across the board, the most common amenity included in facilities of all kinds were outdoor sport courts for such sports as tennis and basketball, locker rooms, bleachers and seating, natural turf sports fields for sports like baseball, football and soccer, and concession areas. More than 60 percent of respondents said their facility included an outdoor sports court. This is impressive, given the wide range of facility types represented. More than half of respondents said their facilities included park structures (50.3 percent), indoor sports courts and gymnasiums, including racquetball courts (52.2 percent), playgrounds (54.8 percent), concession areas (55.4 percent), natural turf fields (56.5 percent), aquatic facilities (58.5 percent), bleachers and seating (59 percent) and locker rooms (59.7 percent).

The least common amenities to be included were amusements, such as rides and arcades, which were included in only 5.5 percent of respondents' facilities. Less than 15 percent of respondents included ice rinks (10.3 percent) or synthetic turf fields (12.1 percent) in their facilities. (See Figure 25.)


Within the next several years, the most popular amenities respondents are planning to add include:

  • Park structures, including shelters, restroom buildings and so on
  • Indoor or outdoor waterpark or splash play areas
  • Trails and open spaces, including gardens and natural areas
  • Bleachers and seating
  • Playgrounds
  • Synthetic turf sports fields for sports like football, soccer and baseball
  • Fitness centers with cardio and weight equipment and/or group exercise rooms
  • Natural turf sports fields
  • Concession areas
  • Climbing walls

More parks and recreation departments were planning to add amenities than the average across all facilities. Nearly 22 percent of these facilities were planning to add park structures, compared to just over 13 percent of all facilities. Interestingly, skateparks also appear in the top 10 amenities parks and recreation departments are planning to add. Fifteen percent of these respondents are making such plans. Skateparks represent an innovative way to get teens involved in recreation and can provide a fun addition to a park that can help get the entire family interested.

Among colleges and universities, the most common amenity facilities said they were planning to add was synthetic turf sports fields, also the second most common amenity selected by schools and school districts. As these schools at all levels look to expand their programming of their outdoor sports fields, synthetic turf becomes an attractive option, due to its ability to cope with extended wear and tear.

YMCAs selected waterparks and splash play areas as the top amenity they are planning to add over the next several years. The second most popular choice for this group was climbing walls. For health clubs and sports clubs, the addition of indoor sports courts and gymnasiums was the most common amenity selected, followed by waterpark and splash play areas.

Waterparks and splash play areas also are the most common amenity that campgrounds, private camps, youth camps and RV parks are planning to add. Other popular additions in these facilities included fitness centers, trails and open spaces, park structures, indoor aquatic facilities, playgrounds and climbing walls.

Among resorts and resort hotels, the most common amenities respondents were planning to add were fitness centers, followed by waterparks and splash play areas and outdoor aquatic facilities.

Programming is also an important part of planning for facility managers and directors, and providing innovative and creative options for patrons is key to ensuring continued success.

The most popular program option across the board for all types of facilities included holiday events and other special events (currently offered by nearly 60 percent of facilities), educational programs and fitness programs (provided by more than 57 percent of facilities), day camps and summer camps (currently provided by 54 percent of facilities) and swimming programs (offered by 52.8 percent of facilities). Therapeutic programs, camping options and environmental education were some of the least common programming options across the board, and more than 9 percent of respondents do not offer any kind of programming at all for their facilities. (See Figure 26.)


The most popular option across the board, holiday events and other special events, were most likely to be programmed by respondents at YMCAs and park districts, with 84.2 percent and 78.9 percent of these facilities offering this type of option, respectively. These facilities also led the way in terms of educational programming.

Not surprisingly, fitness programs are most popular among health clubs and sports clubs, with 96.7 percent of these facilities providing fitness programming of one kind or another. Most YMCAs (89.1 percent) also provide fitness programming, and 81.3 percent of colleges and universities do so as well. Mind/body balance programming like yoga, Pilates and tai chi is also popular among health clubs and sports clubs (with 88.5 percent offering such programs), as well as YMCAs (89.1 percent of which offer such programs).

Day camps and summer camps are primarily found at YMCAs, 92.1 percent of which offer these programs, and youth camps and private camps (for obvious reasons), 89.2 percent of which offer these programs.

Youth sports teams are most commonly found at the YMCA or via a park district, with 88.1 percent of YMCAs and 72.7 percent of park districts offering team sports like basketball, baseball, football, softball and soccer for kids. Adult sports teams, on the other hand, were more commonly found among military installations (68.8 percent of which provide adult sports activities), park districts (62.8 percent) and YMCAs (61.4 percent).

Arts and crafts-that bastion of community centers everywhere-was most popular for youth camps and private camps, with 76.9 percent providing this type of program, as well as park districts and YMCAs, with 68.7 percent and 68.3 percent providing this type of option, respectively.

As facilities of all kinds respond to the need to attract more patrons, program options will change in the next several years.

The top 12 programs that facilities across the board are planning to add in the next three years include:

  • Environmental education programs, including trail guides, birdwatching and more
  • Fitness programs, including cardio, strength and aerobics classes
  • Mind/body balance programs, including yoga, Pilates, tai chi and martial arts
  • Educational programs
  • Nutrition/diet counseling
  • Teen programming
  • Active older adult programming
  • Day camps and summer camps
  • Performing arts such as dance, music and theater
  • Adult sports teams, including football, soccer, volleyball and so on
  • Aquatic exercise programs
  • Holiday events and other special events

Environmental education programs were the most common option selected by parks and recreation departments as well as youth camps and private camps. Fitness programs were the most popular program selected by resorts and resort hotels, as well as schools and school districts. Mind/body balance programs were the most common program selected by respondents from military installations. Nutrition and diet counseling was the number-one choice of colleges and universities, as well as health clubs and sports clubs. YMCAs chose adult sports teams as the number-one program to be added over the next several years.

The following pages will discuss these findings in much greater detail with respect to regional information and types of communities, whether an urban city center or a rural countryside. Further sections will look more specifically at parks and recreation departments, colleges and universities, schools and school districts, YMCAs and health clubs, with glances as the major issues driving decisions of respondents from all types of facilities, as well as expert analysis.

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