Feature Article - June 2013
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Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation


Parks respondents were more likely than non-parks respondents to indicate that they offered programming at their various facilities. While 98.7 percent of parks respondents said they offer programs of any kind, 95.2 percent of non-parks respondents offer programs.

The most common programs found in parks and recreation respondents' facilities include: holiday events and other special events (79.8 percent of those who offer any programs); youth sports teams (70.3 percent); day camps and summer camps (69.8 percent); educational programs (63.2 percent); adult sports teams (62.9 percent); arts and crafts (62.8 percent); swimming programs (56.8 percent); fitness programs (56.7 percent); programs for active older adults (55.6 percent); and sport training (55.1 percent).

Swimming programs and sport training did not appear on the list of top 10 programs currently offered in 2012. They replaced sports tournaments and races, and festivals and concerts. Other programs that saw slight growth over 2012 include holiday events and other special events; youth sports teams, day camps and summer camps, educational programs, adult sports teams, and fitness programs.

Around a third (33.2 percent) of parks respondents in 2013 indicated that they have plans to add programs at their facilities, a decrease from the 36.3 percent of 2012 parks respondents who had such plans.

The most commonly planned programs, along with their changing positions from 2012, include:

  1. Environmental education (no change from 2012)
  2. Teen programming (no change)
  3. Fitness programs (no change)
  4. Educational programs (up from No. 5)
  5. Programs for active older adults (down from No. 4)
  6. Holiday events & other special events (up from No. 7)
  7. Mind-body/balance programs (down from No. 6)
  8. Sports tournaments or races (did not appear in 2012)
  9. Individual sports activities (running club, swim club, etc.) (did not appear in 2012)
  10. Festivals and concerts (did not appear in 2012)

Falling off the list from last year were adult sports teams, performing arts, and day camps and summer camps. There was virtually no change in the top five planned programs.