Feature Article - June 2009
Find a printable version here


A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation


Cutting-edge programs—as well as tried-and-true programs expected by the community—are a cornerstone of effective parks and recreation agencies, and this year's respondents did not differ largely from last year in terms of the programs offered at their facilities.

Once again, holidays and other special events were the top program offered by respondents in this category. Youth sports teams moved to the No. 2 spot, up from third last year, switching positions with day camps and summer camps. Likewise, adult sports teams moved into the fourth position, up from No. 5 last year. The top 10 programs offered at parks respondents facilities were:

  1. Holidays and special events (76.1 percent)
  2. Youth sports teams (66.9 percent)
  3. Day camps and summer camps (65.6 percent)
  4. Adult sports teams (62 percent)
  5. Arts & crafts (61 percent)
  6. Education (60 percent)
  7. Sport-specific training (55 percent)
  8. Swimming (54.3 percent)
  9. Active older adults (54.3 percent)
  10. Sports Tournaments or races (54.2 percent)

Dropping off of last year's top 10 list is the No. 4 program on last year's list, Environmental Education. Last year, 65.7 percent of park respondents indicated they offer this type of program, while just over a third (34 percent) this year indicated they offer such programs. This is despite the fact that last year's survey showed this as the second most common type of program parks were planning to add, after programs for Active Older Adults, which also saw a drop this year.

That said, environmental education returns to the top 10 when it comes to planned program additions. It is the most commonly planned new program addition for parks respondents. When asked which programs they were planning to add in the next three years, parks respondents indicated the following were their top planned programs:

  1. Environmental education
  2. Day camps and summer camps
  3. Education
  4. Holidays and special events
  5. Teen programs
  6. Mind-body balance
  7. Fitness
  8. Adult sports teams
  9. Arts and crafts
  10. Active older adults