A Day in the Life of Recreation

December 7, 2008
By Sondra Clark, Nashville, TN

Do you mind being in charge of the pooper scoopers?" My mind raced. What was I supposed to do with an entire box of pooper scoopers? I soon found out.
It's easy to think that recreation leaders simply play games all day. Most people don't understand all the planning that needs to happen before the fun activities take place. I learned there was plenty of behind-the-scenes work to planning any sort of recreational event. Carleen Schukar, who works for Bellingham Parks and Recreation, was the person asking me to distribute pooper scoopers.

The day I jobshadowed her, she was putting on a kid's dog show with over 40 dogs entered. I helped by greeting people as they came in. People filled out a registration form while I explained that pooper scoopers were available if their dog had an "accident." You would think it would be a simple job, but I had to quickly learn to be nice when people were rude. One woman complained about the nametags. She wanted better-quality nametags. "My dog is a professional. When we attend 'real' dog shows, we always have computer-printed nametags, not these handwritten ones," she told me. Someone else let me know their dog was a true champion and not used to "amateur" dog shows like this one.

I smiled and tried to move to the next person.

During the dog show, we judged for best costume, most spots, biggest "smile," best trick and many other categories. Several arenas were set up. Kids brought their dogs in while I helped other staff judge the cutest costume or which dog had the longest tail. All the dogs behaved themselves, and we didn't have any fights. We didn't even have to use the pooper scoopers! After announcing the winners in each event, we passed out ribbons and doggie treats. Carleen kept busy announcing the various events and winners. She also made sure the rest of the staff were doing their jobs. Afterwards, Carleen had to put away tables, take down signs and try to get rid of the "doggie odor" that filled the gym!

"When I tell people I work for the Parks and Recreation Department, they usually say, "Wow! It must be great to get paid to just play all day,'" Carleen told me. "At some special events I work 12-hour days to make sure everything runs smoothly." People in Carleen's position need to be well-organized and also very flexible. You might plan for 10 dogs to attend the dog show and suddenly find out that 40 dogs are walking through the door. This means being resourceful so that you provide a fun experience for all the participants. There's so much variety in a job like Carleen's. One week she might be planning a Halloween carnival while also hiring new instructors for dance classes. Other times she could be working with pre-schoolers and also registering teens for a camping trip. No two days are ever alike!

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This article has 1 comment.

Nobody said...
on Jan. 13 2009 at 7:33 pm
Very nice! Job shadowing and interning are two of the most interesting experiences!

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