The Joy of Looking Back and Looking Forward

  I had the pleasure, this past weekend, of reconnecting with a significant chapter in my life. I spent 33 years connected to the "recreation community" in Canada. I left that community in 1996 to move to the "library community" for 13 years before retiring with a huge smile on my face**.
  I was at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge as part of the 2015 Alberta Recreation and Parks Conference. I was there to receive an award not to present or attend sessions. I got caught up in the emotion of the setting, the people and the content they were discussing.
Ginger Bread House @ Jasper Park Lodge

  It was like being in a time tunnel that moved me into the future and back into the past. I was granted the privilege of looking at the future through the eyes of young recreation and phys ed students from the University of Alberta, Mount Royal and Medicine Hat College. These young people were excited, enthusiastic, niave and just full of joy for what was ahead of them.
  I slipped back in time when I would hear someone say "my first ARPA conference was right here in Jasper in 1984". The rush of memories was quite overwhelming as people, places and programs flooded back as photos in my mind.

  I had the opportunity to say a few words at the awards presentation... some of the points are below.
"As I look back over the years these images came to mind (My old colleague Jack Monaghan would always start every gathering with a little history lesson to level the playing field. Jack was the consummate community developer)
  • Tim Burton the ultimate role model, teacher and researcher!!
  • The first Community Recreation Consultants spread across Alberta preaching the gospel of recreation
  • The Drumheller Leadership School that spawned so many of the key leaders in recreation and physical education
  • The Blue Lake Centre that exposed 1000’s of Albertans to the joys of outdoor recreation, outdoor & environmental education.
  • The local & regional workshops on Making Meetings Matter, recreation board training, master planning, playground leaders, facility operators,  trails workshops and on and on
  • The Energize Conferences that brought Rec Board members together from all across Alberta to share their stories and get updated on the latest version of the bible according to recreation.
  • The MCR and CRC programs that facilitated the recreation/culture backbone of the province
  • The Urban Parks and MRTA programs
  • The thousands of community recreation programs run by municipalities and local groups that poured the corner stones of community development
  • The incredible reservoir of leadership talent that was built at the community level
  • The mind boggles at the leadership of ARPA on a vast number of new initiatives that might never have happened without their risk taking.
  • The contributions of the staff from the University of Alberta, Red Deer College, Mount Royal and the University of Calgary (other college programs came on stream later)
  • The pool of resource specialists that the province had was the envy of the country.
  • People came from far and wide to study what was happening with recreation in Alberta we were doing something creative, innovative, leading edge and always taking the next step ……..
Those were just a few reminders of the incredible history of commitment to recreation in Alberta.  
      Recreation is a politicians dream
     Recreation is 95% good news, it impacts Albertans from cradle to grave
     It is much more than physical activity it is about families, it is about community building, it is about building leaders, it is about shaping positive attitudes, it is about local parks, playgrounds, trails and open spaces, it’s about wellness
     It is the core of after school programming
     And yes recreation is about physical activity; developing life long attitudes to being active that pay off for decades
     Recreation is about prevention and positive citizenship
     Recreation is about volunteers, leadership and engagement
     Recreation is in every community and every constituency in Alberta.
I threw the rest of my speech away after Drew Dudley’s leadership presentation at lunch and I have these three points for you. ( )
  1. I’m so proud of ARPA….you are making a difference! We don't say this enough...
  2. Every recreation program we have ever offered has an element of leadership development. The ripple of leadership is the most powerful tool recreation has to offer. (Think Drumheller Leadership School & Blue Lake Centre and the leaders they produced +++++)
  3. Why does recreation matter? Ask that question every day because the answer is the key ingredient for the Breakfast of Champions! And you have joined the Recreation Champions club.
 After my comments the time tunnel whacked me on the head with hugs from Diane Burt Stuckey (Recreation and Community Services in Pincher Creek Alberta for 35 years) and Jack Monaghan's daughter Jackie.

Did I learn any lessons from the days spent at ARPA?
  • Every post secondary recreation/community development program should include mandatory lectures on the history of our fields.
    Students need to know the roots of recreation, active living, sport and community development. They need to hear about the programs that brought the field to the point it is today. They need to hear about the contributions of individuals in the academic sector, the provincial government, municipalities and not for profits. (a book & video I think)
  • The old guard need to band together to document recreation in Alberta as they experienced it; the good, the bad and the much to share. (a book in the making)
  • Municipalities need to document their recreation histories (a book in the making)
  • More work needs to be done explaining to newly elected officials WHY RECREATION MATTERS!!
  • More work needs to be done educating public servants on WHY RECREATION MATTERS and how it supports the mandates of so many government priorities.
  • More work needs to be done educating elected officials and Senior Public Servants on the massive recreation delivery system that already exits in Alberta. There is no need to create new delvery systems!!! There is a need to create common agendas around physical activity, after school programming, wellness, active living, community development and recreation.
  • For the Millennial folks a few thoughts:
  • don’t be impatient
  • honour the past
  • trust the process 
  • always “listen to the folks”……..
The time tunnel has worn me out for today but it has spelled out some future challenges!

 **The reason for the huge smile on my face when I retired was that I had one of the most fulfilling careers a person could have; starting a wilderness canoe trip program at 18 that continues today, participating in the growth and development of hundreds of leaders, spoiled by Ministers, DMs and ADMs that allowed me to be creative and take risks while never telling them what I thought they wanted to hear, being able to blend the resources of community developers, the voluntary sector /WildRose Foundation and Public Libraries, being recognized many times for my work in the voluntary sector, public libraries and recreation. Working with the most incredible people in the world for 46 years. Moving on to a phase of life filled with volunteer activities, friends, former staff and enough memories to fill many winter nights. I'm still smiling........
PAE Library Connectivity
PAE CSI Project

The Great Vitalize Fire & Flames Jersey

Krishan Joshee "Chairman for Life"
Gord May Camp Staff '74

Camp Staff, Lynda Keep, Gord May, Laurie MacIntosh, Brian Law, Don Taylor

50th Anniversary 2013


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