The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Sports Management: M.S.




School of Health and Human Services

First Advisor

Mark Moore

Second Advisor

Frances Kayona

Third Advisor

Briget Eastep

Keywords and Subject Headings

Sport, Recreation, Staff Perceptions, Job Satisfaction, Kinesiology


In the past, recreation agencies defined their youth service mission as engaging children in fun and games. This mission involved keeping youth off the streets and out of trouble. However, expectations often were limited to opening facilities and hiring minimum wage, part-time employees to baby-sit the youth and facility. As programs have developed, and youth development professionals have acquired a more sophisticated understanding of the potential of youth programming, a new mission has evolved. This mission involves professional staff members including the youth in program planning and development. These programs also aim at teaching youth confidence, self-esteem and other non-traditional skills such as leadership and organization. In addition, these programs are offered in comfortable, safe environments that are open during the hours when schools are closed and youth need a place to hang out. To accomplish this new mission, youth agencies have had to become more open minded and think-outside the box in their program's strategies. Part of this new way of thinking involves an understanding of the youth professionals and their key role in a program's success (Witt & Compton, 2002).

This evolved mission has been studied in recent years and a few common characteristics have emerged among different youth agencies. These include trends such as collaboration, youth friendly facilities, and the employment of diversified, professional staff. In order to receive adequate funding, the recreation professionals find they need to continually track, evaluate, report and justify their program outcomes. The challenge ih offering a successful youth program seems to be embedded in securing the financial and professional staff resources up front. Once established, the program can grow to reach and creatively serve youth.

The most important program resource tends to be the staff. While new facilities are important, recreation and community centers cannot be effective without highly qualified and dedicated human resources to operate them. Thus, a long-term investment in employing staff in both outreach areas and mainstream facilities is vital.

Repeatedly the review of literature reinforced the important role recreation professionals have in providing youth services. The work attitudes and experiences of these professionals assumingly impact the experiences of the youth during their participation in the recreation activities. Therefore, understanding how the recreation staff perceive their roles and work environment is critical to a program's success.

Focusing on this belief, the Recreation Staff Survey was developed and utilized in this study.

The Recreation Staff Survey was developed to gather information on local · recreation professionals' attitudes and experiences in the work place. The survey was available to approximately 300 youth recreation providers via the Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association (MRP A) website. A total of 35 responses were returned through e-mail or regular postal service. The findings focused on the following four areas: staff training; collaborations; professional opportunities; and the overall youth program impact. The survey findings were quantitative in nature, providing a descriptive account of the agencies youth programs and program service.

The results from the study found the following: current administrators of recreation professionals are reportedly doing a good job of providing opportunities for staff training, and offering adequate personal learning and growth options; collaborations among youth program providers are very common as a variety of partnerships between municipalities, private agencies and other groups interested in investing in societal youth, are now in existence; employing professional staff is a top priority as it is acknowledged that the staff can make or break a program; staff members th~t are able to connect with the youth are necessary for program longevity; recreation professionals are aware of the positive impact they are having serving youth.

These findings support the review of literature that found that staff members play a vital role in providing mentorship and guidance to the youth involved in recreation programs. Overwhelmingly, the Recreation Staff Survey respondents perceive their organizations' programs as having a positive impact on our youth.


I would like to thank my advisor and committee chair, Dr. Mark Moore, and committee members, Dr. Briget Eastep and Dr. Frances Kayona, for their patience, advice and time in helping complete this paper.

And special thanks to my husband and two children who had too many hours alone when mom was gone again to class or working on this paper.

Included in

Kinesiology Commons



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