Recreation is a discovery major. I was told this in Rec 101: An Introduction to Recreation. No one (or very few people) come to school to get a degree in Recreation. In fact, when I was in college, there was only one major that fewer people were pursuing, and I don’t even remember what it was. Probably Underwater Basket Weaving.
By now, you are probably wondering what the heck I am talking about. What is Recreation? What type of job does a Rec major do after college?
“I know,” says Johnny Everyman. “You teach gym in school.”
“Nope,” I say. “That’s phys. ed.”
“Oh,” says Johnny. “Then it’s like a sports therapy thing, right?”
“Nope,” I say. “That’s not it either.”
Recreation is the business of leisure. It takes many forms. There are private recreation jobs through organizations like the YMCA, summer camps, cruise lines and resorts. And there are municipal recreations jobs, which were recently made popular by the show, Parks and Recreation. Also, the DNR, military bases, etc.
One of my favorite memories of explaining recreation was with a friend for whom English is a second language.
“I was a recreation major in college,” I said.
“You went to clown college?” he said, laughing his head off.
“Close enough,” I said.
But here’s the thing. I loved being a Rec major. Because there weren’t many people pursuing Rec degrees, I had small classes with the same set of twenty or so students and we got to know each other pretty well. I learned awesome stuff in my classes, like how to juggle and the correct way to tie your shoes (yes, there is a wrong way, and most people use it). In one class, we went backpacking and got credit for it.
“But Josh,” says Johnny Everyman, “You don’t work in recreation now.”
That’s true. I now work in a bookstore, but you’d be surprised at how many of the skills that I learned in college carry over to my bookstore job. I help plan a lot of events, market a lot of events, and every now and again, I help tie someone’s shoes.
As it happens, I love my job, and I love the fact that I get to leave it at the end of the day. The downside of working in recreation is that you are working while everyone else has free time (because you wouldn’t have a job if other people didn’t have free time). Often, you live at your workplace (summer camp, cruise line, etc.) and even if you don’t, you are still on call 24 hours a day. This is not an ideal schedule for everyone.
Being that I don’t have a job in my field, would I do things differently if I had the chance today? I don’t think so. I loved my education. I might have swapped my minor from Communication to something writing-related (and not newspaper writing, because that still falls under the Communication minor).
So if you are headed to college soon, or in college now but unhappy with your chosen major, why not choose Recreation? You’ll learn a lot of the same things that a Business major will learn, but you’ll have a lot more fun doing it. Plus, you’ll be in good company (me).