Recreation workers typically do the following:
The specific responsibilities of recreation workers vary greatly with their job title, their level of training, and the state they work in.
The following are examples of types of recreation workers:
Activity specialists provide instruction and coaching primarily in one activity, such as dance, swimming, or tennis. These workers may work in camps, aquatic centers, 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, set up and keep records of equipment use, and ensure that recreation facilities and equipment are used and maintained properly. They may lead classes and provide instruction in a recreational activity, such as kayaking or golf.
Camp counselors work directly with youths 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 nature study. Counselors also provide guidance and supervise daily living and socialization. Some counselors may specialize in a specific activity, such as archery, boating, music, drama, or gymnastics.
The NRPA offers four certifications for recreation workers:
Applicants may qualify for certification with different combinations of education and work experience. They also must take continuing education classes to maintain their certification.
The American Camp Association offers certificates for various levels of camp staff, including Entry-Level Program Staff Certificate and Camp Director Certificate. Individuals who complete online courses may show their advanced level of knowledge of core competencies.
Some recreation jobs require other kinds of certification. For example, first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certifications may be required for leading camp or sports activities. These certifications are available from organizations such as the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.
Jobs for recreation workers may also require a valid driver’s license and the ability to pass a background check.
Specific requirements vary by job and employer.