Q&A 2002

Contact universities with accredited programs and they will assist. School programs vary and you should seek school partnerships that complement your organization’s role and ensure that your intern requirement fits with the school’s curriculum.

Talk with previous and current interns to learn what they desire from internships and what their needs and expectations might be. Also, contact other parks and recreation agencies that have reputable intern programs and learn from them.

While it is logical that an agency would look for an intern majoring in the field of or a related field to parks and recreation, other degree programs are beneficial as well, depending on the needs of the department.

You might consider Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, Horticulture, Forestry, Business Administration, Marketing and Information Technology. Choose students that will be very flexible in work schedule and job duties and that you are sure will benefit from your organization as much as you will benefit from them.

John Powers is parks and recreation director for The Woodlands, Texas

Q: How should I determine who the age group, format, and timeframe to start a sport camp or program?

A: I would systematically survey what sport camps and programs are currently offered in your area. I would find out the age groups that attend each camp, if it is a day camp or overnight camp, the length of each camp, and the actual dates that each camp is conducted. What you may find is that there is a target market that has not been tapped that could be a niche that you can develop.

For example, there may not be a sport camp that caters to the 6-10 year old athletes in that sport. Or there may only be overnight camps in the area, which usually makes the price substantially higher.

Another niche that hasn’t been developed is specialization camp by sport position. A goalkeeping camp is a natural. Another niche might be developed by offering a strength training and conditioning camp which would appeal to the very serious athlete across all competitive sports.

Finally, research the camper volume of each camp. Are 300 athletes enrolled a week or just 75? If people are looking for personalized instruction because most of the established camps have swelled due to their popularity, the personal touch may be very attractive to both the campers and their parents. What caliber of staff will you need depending on the size, age and expertise of your camp to ensure the quality of the product?

Dr. Sue Langlois has more than 20 years of experience as a college professor, athletic administrator, camp director and sport facilities consultant. She is currently the Dean of Sports Science at Endicott College.

Q: When an employee asks, “What should I do?” What should you do?

A: This is probably not a question — it’s probably a trap. If you are careful about hiring, your employees will be very capable and know what to do.

What is really happening here is one of several things…

A. Employees disagree and want you to be the judge.

B. The employee knows the answer but doesn’t like the answer so is hoping you will change the rules or parameters and the answer will be what the employee wants to hear.

C. The employee already has an answer but wants to add you to the list of people backing that answer.

D. The employee doesn’t want to put forth the effort to find the answer.

Interestingly, these all sound very negative. But look beyond the initial reaction to discover the reason for the reluctance to act independently.

A director can help more by enabling and coaching the employee into discovering or deciding what to do than by simply providing the answer and sending the employee on his/her way.

First, the reason for the employee not being as independent as desired needs to be identified. It could be as simple as the employee’s supervisor is not allowing the employee to work independently. The answer to that is to work with the supervisor, demonstrating to the supervisor the benefits of delegating and the rewards of seeing subordinates develop under their tutelage.

It may be that the employee’s behavior or personality does not support independence. If this is the case then it may be best to forget it and continue with specific work assignments.

The employee may be struggling with self-confidence. Start with smaller independent assignments that you feel confident the employee will successfully complete.

As the list of small successes grows, gradually increase the scope of the responsibility, always offering constructive criticism and support along the way. Provide sincere positive feedback.

Steve Dice is the director of park operations for Cleveland Metroparks

Q: How can you have a skatepark with all of the liability issues?

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