A Decade's Worth of Changes
The other day, on one of my regular walks through the woods by the house I've lived in for more than a decade, I suddenly realized that I'd never been to the top of "Mt. Trash."
You see, the woods where I walk weren't always the woods. This place was once an eyesore, a gravel pit and garbage dump. And then, someone got the brilliant idea to give nature a little help, and then let nature take its course. As a result, the people who live in my community have access to an incredible range of trails and recreational opportunities, right at our doorstep. You can bike, hike, ski or ride a horse along miles of trails. You can swim, canoe, kayak or just cast a line in the various lakes and ponds, or along the river that passes through. You can learn archery. You can learn about the complex ecosystem of the river. It's a vast and wonderful garden of opportunity for fun, for fitness, for recreation.
The next day, as I finally climbed to the top of the "mountain" and watched the landscape open up beneath me, I couldn't stop thinking about how much things change in 10 years. This place becomes wilder with every passing season. The diversity of the wildlife expands. And the opportunities there change and grow. And the people who love it come and go. And that's just this one place.
Just as my local haven has evolved in the decade that I've been regularly visiting, the market for managed recreation, sports and fitness facilities has also evolved. In some cases, those changes have come slowly and almost imperceptibly. In other cases, the changes happen fast.
Since we've been covering industry trends via our State of the Industry Report, now in its 10th year of publication, we've watched as the economic downturn dealt a big blow, and we've continued to watch as the industry has recovered—with varying speed depending on how badly the impact was felt. We've seen some amenities and types of facilities emerge, innovate and become increasingly popular. Splash play, outdoor exercise equipment, climbing walls, dog parks, skateparks, inclusive playgrounds, greenways—and all of it is achieving the same thing as my local woods: providing a place where communities can gather to have some fun, to be well, to get fit, to play, to compete.
Here's to 10 more years of making a positive difference in the community you serve!