What Does a Recreation Worker Do?

Tara Barnett

A recreation worker is any person involved in the broad field of recreational activities. This includes professionals like camp counselors, activity specialists, and directors of parks and recreations. Some recreation workers work in places like camps and cruise ships while others work in offices. The experience requirements needed to become a recreation worker depend on the type of work being done, but it is typically possible to gain entry into the lower levels of this field before graduating high school.

Some recreation worker jobs involve working with specific groups, such as the elderly or children.
Some recreation worker jobs involve working with specific groups, such as the elderly or children.

One of the most common types of recreation worker is the camp counselor. These employees are often former campers who are familiar with camp practices and are old enough to be responsible for other children. Activity specialists are also common, and these workers usually are responsible individuals who are skilled in a particular area, such as a sport or craft activity. Given that these employees often work with children, it is typically valuable for the worker to have some experience in child care and good interpersonal skills.

Some gyms and community centers require recreation workers to complete bloodborne pathogen training.
Some gyms and community centers require recreation workers to complete bloodborne pathogen training.

While being skilled at a particular activity is important for a recreation worker, much more of this type of job involves managing people and keeping group activities running smoothly. Being friendly and professional even in stressful environments is essential. A recreation worker during a summer season may work in inclement weather for many long hours, and it is important to be able to handle even the worst weather conditions. The attitude of the recreation worker can affect the attitude of people engaging in recreation, and part of the worker's responsibility is keeping people calm and happy.

Recreation workers might lead different exercise programs.
Recreation workers might lead different exercise programs.

In many cases, a recreational worker's job is seasonal or only part time. High-level employees such as directors are typically employed all year round. In some cases, recreational workers can move from season to season or work on various activities on the same resort in order to create a full time job. This type of job is unique in that it may involve very different activities depending on the season.

Some recreation jobs involve working with groups of a specific type, such as the elderly or special needs children. These jobs often have additional duties and responsibilities relating to safety and awareness, as the worker must pay more attention to the health and needs of any participants. In some cases, a recreation worker may require training in order to perform life-saving maneuvers such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or emergency wound care. This is particularly true when the activity being performed is potentially dangerous, such as swimming or rock climbing.

Recreation workers may spend the summer as a lifeguard.
Recreation workers may spend the summer as a lifeguard.

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Discussion Comments

Raynbow

@heavanet- You make a good point, however, there are some recreation jobs in most cities. Parks and pools are areas that offer the most job opportunities in the field of recreation, and many cities have more than one of each.

Locations with state parks are also known for hiring recreation workers. Many cities and towns across the United States have state parks, and hire many workers on the state level. These are often good jobs with great benefits.

Heavanet

Working as a recreation worker would be a lot of fun, if you could find employment in this field. With the exception of maybe a city park, I would think that there would be few employment opportunities in recreation in most towns and cities. Anyone who wants to work in this field would probably have to relocate to an area that gets a lot of tourists where recreation jobs would be more readily available.

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