Tuesday, July 9, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 28, Parks & Recreation Month

It's JULY.
by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

There's no point re-inventing the wheel.  As anyone who is in the profession of parks and recreation is aware, July is Park and Recreation month.  The National Recreation and Park Association promotes this grand event with toolkits, contests, events, ideas, and free materials on their website.  But, where did this event come from?  How long has it been a prevalent July fixture?  I decided to blog about it, and as I always do, the first thing I did was turn to Google.  Alas, it seems that The Forest History Society has already blogged about the history of Park and Recreation month, three years ago in fact:  Celebrate "National Park and Recreation Month" by reading about both.

Therefore, not to re-iterate what Mr. Jamie "Mad B-Logger" Lewis cited, I will summarize:
July is National Parks and Recreation Month in the United States. First designated in 1984, Congress did not intend it to celebrate national parks, as some websites would have you believe. Rather, the purpose is to celebrate parks at all governmental levels and recreation in general, and to recognize and honor “the vital contributions of employees and volunteers in park and recreation facilities,” in the words of last year’s Congressional resolution.
Of its more noble purposes Congressman Daniel Lipinski of Illinois eloquently declared in 2006, “The purpose of National Recreation and Parks Month is not only to celebrate the start of summer programs but also to advocate for parks and recreation by encouraging communities to engage in outdoor physical activities and volunteering…. National Recreation and Parks Month is an important occasion to remind us of our dedication to the preservation of the environment, and serves as an aide-mémoire for all Americans to enjoy the natural wonders of our nation.”

In July, 2012, the Museum of Natural History at the University of Iowa reminded us of the purpose of Park and Recreation month by linking it to the individuals who make it happen:

July is the perfect time for outdoor exploration (well, if you can stand the heat!). Local and national recreation areas and parks are great places to start your summer of adventure....  July is the best time for friends, family, or groups to rediscover their local parks or visit news ones.

This holiday isn’t only about outdoor exploration, but also about recognizing and acknowledging those who work in the parks.  The men and women working or volunteering in the parks make our experience entertaining and memorable.  Like any place whether it’s a museum or park, it takes a lot of care and effort to make it a beautiful and enjoyable place for families and friends to visit. 

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