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While it would seem that our culture places a high emphasis on work while devaluing the merit of recreational pursuits, experts agree that true recreation is what gives our lives meaning and refreshes us.  The term recreation is derived from the Latin word recreare, which means to "restore, refresh, or create anew."  True recreation is distinct from mindless entertainment in that it enriches our lives and provides an invigorating change from daily routine.  In-line skating, snowboarding, hang gliding, hiking, golf, tennis, camping, fishing, photography, swimming, cycling, and music are just a tiny sampling of the recreational pursuits that people enjoy today.  Many forms of recreation require a high degree of discipline and provide a challenge for further development of the individual.

One of the first public recreation projects was New York's Central Park, acquired in 1853.  It was the first in a series of public metropolitan parks established nationwide.  In 1872, Congress established Yellowstone National Park "as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people".  During the years that followed, many more national parks, preserves, and monuments were authorized by the United States and other nations.  In 1885, several women were employed as children's playground supervisors in Boston, becoming the first workers on record to be employed in a recreation occupation.  After World War II, many municipalities initiated some form of community recreation program, and the municipal park and recreation movement became a nationwide phenomena.

recreation - family canoe trip Today's park rangers, therapeutic recreation assistants, private golf club managers, wilderness camp counselors, ski resort instructors, community center directors, museum guides, sporting goods store workers and youth sports coaches are just a few examples of the many jobs available in the recreation and leisure field.  Of course, some of the job opportunities in this field are seasonal, especially those involving outdoor recreational activities.

Recreational pursuits come in varied forms to suit every individual and skill level, and a whole spectrum of careers has opened up in the recreation and leisure field as people increasingly realize the direct correlation between recreational pursuits and quality of life.

For more information about the recreation and leisure industry, visit the Outdoor Industry Association website and the Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation section of the website, and read this book about Recreation Trends and Markets in the 21st century.

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