Western Washington University · Bellingham, Washington
What is the study of Recreation?
The purpose of recreation and leisure is to contribute to the health and well being of individuals and to enhance the quality of community life. As such, the study of Recreation is multidisciplinary, requiring understanding of the social, behavioral, physical, and environmental sciences as they pertain to helping people grow and develop in their leisure while conserving our vital natural resources. Knowledge of the arts and humanities is important as well, because leisure is one of the most fertile opportunities for self-expression and the development of community.
In support of healthy individuals, families, and communities, career opportunities in recreation and leisure services are numerous and diverse. The Recreation curriculum prepares students to design, implement, manage, lead, and evaluate recreation programs and services. The program is designed as four sequential 15-16 credit hour blocks of classes (phases) with students moving through the program as a cohort group. Students enter Phase 1 of the program during spring quarter, typically during their sophomore or junior year. The following schedule shows the sequential order of the four program phases:
The phase system allows maximum flexibility for scheduling students’ educational experience to include workshops, field experiences, conferences and seminars both on and off campus. By making use of other departments at Western, statewide recreation resources, and recreation professionals, students are provided with exposure to a wide variety of experiential and service-learning opportunities.
Why Should I Consider this Major?
Recreation and leisure contribute to the health and well being of individuals and their communities. Graduates of the Recreation Program are employed throughout the region, nation and world. They work in a variety of settings, including public recreation departments, outdoor recreation programs, hospitals, and tourism agencies. Specific jobs performed by graduates include working as recreation therapists, organizing and leading outdoor adventure trips, managing youth-serving agencies, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, supervising public sports programs, coordinating community cultural arts, operating eco-tourism trips, and serving as park rangers with state and federal agencies. Some graduates have found their degrees useful for work in fields such as social work, the ministry and law enforcement.
I have been teaching in the Recreation Program at Western since 1980, and have witnessed some extraordinary, almost magical, moments as students discover how their beliefs and behaviors have the potential to limit or enrich the lives of others. I have read student accounts of life-changing experiences as a result of course activities that connect them with diverse people and cultures. I have heard students speak of the impact of interactive fieldtrips that, in their words, were transformational.
- Jill Heckathorn, Faculty
"Recreation is the reason I stayed at Western. That is what the Recreation Program has done for me... Here the professors know you by name and are there to help you with any questions you have, school related or otherwise. You will also meet people so passionate about what they are doing, it is quite infectious. Being a part of this program has not only given me a solid group of friends but proof that you can love what you do... To me, this program embodies what life should be about. As corny as that may sound, becoming a recreation major is the best thing I have done in my academic career and I have never questioned that. It is definitely a program worth looking into and one of the best departments Western has to offer."
- Jordy Beasley, Student
- Recreation Therapist
- Outdoor Adventure Leader
- Youth Programs Coordinator
- Eco-tourism Operator
- Park Ranger