Feature Article - June 2021
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Trends in Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation


Park respondents were slightly more likely than non-park respondents to indicate that they provide programming of any kind at their facilities. While 96.4% of non-park respondents offer programming, some 99.1% of park respondents do so, up from 98.7% in 2020.

The most common programs found in park respondents' facilities include: holiday events and other special events (82.8% of park respondents include them); youth sports teams (73%); day camps and summer camps (67.9%); educational programs (62.2%); group exercise programs (61.9%); arts and crafts programs (61.2%); programs for active older adults (60.8%); adult sports teams (59.1%); fitness programs (55.8%); and festivals and concerts (53.3%).

Programs that saw an increase for park respondents in 2021 include: holidays and other special events (up from 81.6%); youth sports teams (up from 70.2%); day camps and summer camps (up from 65%); arts and crafts (up from 59.2%); and programs for active older adults (up from 58.6%).

Park respondents were more likely than non-park respondents to report that they had plans to add more programming options at their facilities over the next several years. Some 44.8% of park respondents said they had such plans (up from 40.8% in 2020), compared with just 29.7% of non-park respondents (down slightly from 30.1% in 2020).

As with the most commonly planned feature additions, the most commonly planned program additions in 2021 for parks seem to reflect the demand over the past year for programs addressing fitness and wellness, as well as outreach to teens—always a popular planned program among parks but perhaps even more vital in the wake of a year of remote or hybrid learning and social distancing.

The most commonly planned program additions in 2021 for parks include:

  • Group exercise programs (up from No. 4)
  • Teen programming (no change)
  • Fitness programs (no change)
  • Mind-body balance programs such as yoga (up from No. 6)
  • Programs for active older adults (up from No. 7)
  • Educational programs (did not appear in the top 10 for parks in 2020)
  • Environmental education programs (down from No. 1)
  • Holidays and other special events (did not appear in 2020)
  • Adult sports teams (did not appear in 2020)
  • Special needs programs (down from No. 9)

Educational programs, holidays and special events, and adult sports teams replaced day camps and summer camps, arts and crafts programs, and performing arts programs. RM