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What Recreation Workers Do

Recreation workers design and lead leisure activities for groups in volunteer agencies or recreation facilities, such as playgrounds, parks, camps and senior centers. They may lead activities in areas such as arts and crafts, sports, games, music, and camping.


Recreation workers typically do the following:

The specific responsibilities of recreation workers vary greatly with their job title, their level of training, or the state they work in. The following are examples of types of recreation workers:

Camp counselors work directly with children in residential (overnight) or day camps. They often lead and instruct children and teenagers in a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, or camping. In residential camps, counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and socialization. Some counselors may teach campers special subjects, such as archery, boating, music, drama, or gymnastics.

Camp directors typically supervise camp counselors, plan camp activities or programs, and do the administrative tasks that keep the camp running.

Activity specialists provide instruction and coaching primarily in one activity, such as art, music, drama, swimming, or tennis. These workers may work in camps or anywhere else where there is interest in a single activity.

Recreation leaders are responsible for a recreation program’s daily operation. They primarily organize and direct participants, schedule the use of facilities, keep records of equipment use, and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used properly. They may lead classes and provide instruction in a recreational activity, such as tennis.

Recreation supervisors oversee recreation leaders. They often serve as a point of contact between the director of a park or recreation center and the recreation leaders. Some supervisors also may direct special activities or events or oversee a major activity, such as aquatics, gymnastics, or one or more performing arts.

Directors of recreation and parks develop and manage comprehensive recreation programs in parks, playgrounds, and other settings. Directors usually serve as technical advisors to state and local recreation and park commissions and may be responsible for recreation and park budgets.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition