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Roles of the Programmer: On-Line Lesson

Chapter 3: The Leisure Service Programmer

We will not cover, in any depth, the profession or leadership information in this chapter since you either have or will receive this information in the PRM 220 Introduction to Parks and Recreation Management and PRM 252 Recreation Leadership and Supervision.

Four Elements Related to Program Leadership

  1. Program Planning and Implementation: involves managing the planning, organizing,  implementing and evaluating recreation and leisure activities.
  2. Direct Activity Leadership: involves the face-to-face conducting of a recreation or leisure activity.
  3. Provision of Related Program Services: involves coordinating resources from various organizations to provide recreation and leisure programs.
  4. Supervision of Special Facilities: involves coordinating registrations, admissions, and supervision at special activity facilities and sites.

Ethics: standards of right and wrong.

Values: principles or guidelines that individuals believe to be important (Edginton & Edginton, 1994).

The very basis of the leisure experience relies on the ability of participants to influence their experience, and requires decision making related to values and ethics. An individual's values and ethics will permeate the entire leisure experience and to a great extent determine its potential for impacting the potential for positive outcomes.

Roles of the Programmer

The leisure service programmer will provide two basic types of service.
bulletdirect: programmer uses his/her knowledge to identify the needs of the community and intervene in order to provide services.
bulletindirect: the programmer facilitates opportunities for customers to develop their own skill s and initiate programs and services to meet their needs.

Professional Roles
bulletActivity Leader: provides face-to-face leadership (teacher, group facilitator, advocate, referral worker, counselor, outreach worker, host, guide, and coach).
bulletProgram Coordinator: involves creating and distributing program resources and services. Fundamental skills include planning, organizing, promoting supervising and evaluating programs. They are responsible for one or more of the following areas (program area; facility; population groups; and geographical area)
bulletCommunity Developer: works with community groups and associations which have a specific initiative or agenda to promote (youth-at-risk needs, new community facilities etc.). A cooperative relationship based on mutual benefits.


The three most common leadership styles are:


The most effective leadership style is Situational. A situational leader has the ability to apply each of the three leadership styles "when the activity, group, or environment" requires it. At times each leadership style is the best for that moment or stage of the activity but will not be appropriate for the next stage of group development or activity.

Chapter 4: Understanding Customer Behavior

Thinking of the people we serve as customers will create an expectation of the relationship between the leisure programmer and the participant. This relationship is an important element in the overall leisure experience.

Labels: You should know the definitions of the following terms.

client consumer customer
guest member participant
patron user visitor

Variables That Impact Customer Behavior
bulletinvolvement: the extent a product or service are relevant or pertinent to the customer.
bulletdifferentiation: when there are many products or services available to consumers, they look for subtle differences that distinguish one service from another.
bullettime pressure: where convenience or location are major determinants in selection of a product or service.

1) Factors that Influence customer behavior:

Individual characteristics : values - motives - lifestyle - personality

Social Influences: family - reference group - community

2) Professional relationships:

client: an individual who passively receives recommendations of the programmer.

consumer: an individual who is free to choose what services best meet his/her needs and whether they are willing to pay for such services.

customer: an individual who participates in a service on a regular basis.

guest: an individual who is treated courteously, respectfully, given special care and attention and made to feel welcome in the environment.

member: an individual who has been given special privileges because the person has paid dues to the organization.

participant: an individual who shares or takes part in an activity.

user: an individual who engages actively in a program or service on a regular basis.

visitor: an individual who visits an area or facility or participates in a program.

3) Customer decision making
bulletextended information search
bulletproduct, service or brand switching
bulletroutine/repeat decision making

4) Variables impacting customer decision making
bulletinvolvement - individual's self-image
bulletdifferentiation - subtle differences in a product or service
bullettime pressure - convenience and location

5) Motivation: an inner drive that occurs in behavior that is directed toward a goal.

6) Motivation cycle: need - drive - goal

7) Group behavior
bulletprimary group
bulletsecondary group

 8) Eight stages of human development by Erik Erikson: Human development is a complex multifaceted phenomenon. The interaction of such internal variables as biological, physiological and psychological processes and external variables such as social and time span create barriers and opportunities for leisure programs. A solid understanding of developmental issues is critical to creating positive leisure experiences for participants.  Erik Erikson's eight stages of development include:

Life Stage


Developmental Issue

birth 0-1 trust vs mistrust
infancy 1-2 autonomy vs shame
early childhood 3-5 initiative vs guilt
middle childhood 6-12 industry vs inferiority
adolescence 13-17 identity vs role confusion
early adulthood 18-35 intimacy vs isolation
middle adulthood 36-60 generativity vs stagnation
late adulthood 60+ integrity vs despair

9) Cohort: A group of individuals who were born within a 5, 7 or 10 year time interval. These intervals identify the major life events (i.e. landing on the moon, music groups, major news events) which are shared by these individuals.

10) Demographics: Differences between individuals that may impact their consumer habits. Such differences include: age - gender - personality - education - occupation - income - race - national identity - marital status - family - health

Developmental Characteristics of Younger Children (Ages 6 to 8)


bulletBeginning to be more competitive
bulletRelatively short attention span; frustrates easily
bulletInvolved in the magical world of play
bulletDesires to impress leaders and peers
bulletSocial rules important
bulletPlay and learning are an integrated process
bulletMotor development proceeds downward from head and outward from the center of the body; hand and eye coordination developed
bulletPleasure gained from achievement
bulletShows pride and affection for parents
bulletSocial skills developing; developing a sense of humor; more thoughtful of other

Program Implications

bulletSpecific programs should help children experience varied activities which encourage peer interaction and motor development. Leisure activities for this group tend to be found in the public and private nonprofit sectors.
bulletPlay is particularly important for this age group. Play offers intrinsically rewarding experiences which help children gain competence in both problem solving and creativity. Play is an important means of learning and socialization.
bulletPrograms should emphasize gross motor activities including throwing, climbing, and rolling, as well as provide high-energy activities alternated with periodic quiet activities. In the later stages of this age span programs should introduce cooperative activities and use New Games.
bulletPrograms tend to be more leader-directed. Staff need to be aware that they are role models for children and they need to provide consistency and emphasize fairness.


bulletSports and Games: Chasing games, singing games, individual games of skill (e.g., jacks), stunts, bike riding, and scavenger hunts. Some organized sports are introduced (e.g., baseball). Active hobbies (e.g., hiking, climbing) are often encouraged by parents.
bullet Social: Individuals are likely to interact with same-sex friends. Cliques are likely to form (e.g., tree house club). Classes (e.g., karate, swimming, dancing), school, day camps-all foster socialization.
bullet Miscellaneous: Television, reading, board games, video games.

Developmental Characteristics of Older Children (Ages 9 to 12)


bulletGirls are approximately one year more mature than boys
bulletFitness improves as individuals gain more stamina; realization of personal limits (through peer comparison)
bulletNew interests develop; competitiveness lessens
bulletSelective memory
bulletCreative imagination along with the development of abstract logical thinking
bulletPride in traditions
bulletResponse less impulsive
bulletGood sense of humor
bulletRole models are extremely important; easily influenced
bulletCloseness of peers, focus on "best" friends; some arguments; can conceal hurt feelings
bulletImportance of peers increases dramatically
bulletOnset of adolescence; often more self-conscious about their bodies

Program Implications

bulletIndividuals are beginning to establish themselves outside the family unit. Individuals are also beginning to be interested in members of the other sex. Leisure organizations should give participants opportunities to develop specific skills and to socialize with peers. Leisure continues to take place mainly in the public and private nonprofit sectors; individuals begin to explore more school opportunities and commercial alternatives (e.g., movies).
bulletPrograms should offer opportunities for gradual acceptance of additional responsibility.


bulletSports and Games: Team games, hobbies (camping with parents, organizations), physical sports, initiatives, spectator sports.
bulletSocial: Clubs, social activities (dances), hanging out at the mall with friends, music becoming more important.
bulletMiscellaneous: Television, movies, video games.

Ten Basic Needs of Youth

1) A need for creative expression

2) A need for feeling self-worth/giving to others

3) A need for closeness in relationships

4) A need for feeling a sense of competence and achievement

5) A need for safety, structure, and clear limits

6) A need for belonging and meaningful involvement in family, school and community

7) A need for physical activity

8) A need to feel a sense of independence, autonomy and control

9) A need for a sense of individualism, identity, and self-definition

10) A need for positive social interaction with adults and peers

Developmental Characteristics of Adolescence (Ages 13 to 18)


bulletPeriod of transition between childhood and adulthood
bulletStruggle over the lack of clearly defined role in society
bulletSearch for personal identity and independence from parents
bulletPeriod of increasing freedom and access to resources
bulletAdolescents tend to be idealistic and egocentric
bulletGreat confusion of values
bulletAffiliation and acceptance by peer group is of major importance
bulletBody experiences a number of internal biological changes as it begins to reach physical maturation
bulletPsychological reaction to bodily changes creates dissonance
bulletInterest in the "other sex" intensifies
bulletHave more time for leisure

Program Implications

bulletPrograms should provide opportunities for social interaction, development and achievement as leisure experiences can provide the opportunity to establish relationships and desired independence.
bulletThe majority of leisure opportunities take place in schools and the commercial sector. Some sports leagues are offered by public or private nonprofit organizations.
bulletPrograms should help adolescents develop concepts of adequacy, self-respect, and self-confidence. Adolescents need a sense of who they are as they move from childhood to adulthood.
bulletLeisure service providers need to recognize that adolescents should be active and will be interested in trying out a wide range of activities; therefore, programs should offer variety and be sensitive to ongoing teen-age fads. Areas for adolescents to safely "hang out" allows them to experiment with various roles and behaviors.
bulletAdolescent leisure provides a margin of freedom within institutionalized constraints.
bulletPrograms can create opportunities for "rites of passage" into adulthood.


bulletSports: Organized sports are very important. Greater emphasis should be placed on helping adolescents develop lifelong sport interests. Outdoor and adventure activities offer many adolescents opportunities for "rites of passage."
bulletSocial: Music becomes important, dancing, places to "hang out" with friends, movies.
bulletMiscellaneous: Opportunities to help others, television, videos.

Characteristics of Early Adulthood (Ages 18 to 30)


bulletEstablishes autonomy from parents while still seeking to maintain some type of connection
bulletBuilds life structure (marriage, family, friendships)
bulletCompletes formal schooling, concern for occupation increases, emphasis is placed on success in a career
bulletIdentification with social institutions
bulletDevelops the ability to be intimate and to make commitments
bulletStructures a dream of the future

Program Implications for Leisure Service Organizations

bulletEarly in this stage recreation is commercial and school based. However, as people establish families and settle down, recreation tends to be more home based, especially when children are young and money is tight. Public recreation agencies can become important as families are established. Leisure activities with newly married couples and young families can encourage interactions and development of shared commitments to a new life together.
bulletThis stage can be a time of new experiences; organizations should attempt to offer variety and opportunities to try new things.
bulletOpportunities for continued sociosexual contact and activity are still important as are activities which have a strong physical component.


bulletSports: Outdoor pursuits (rock climbing, water skiing, backpacking), team sports (softball, basketball, volleyball) still important, starting to make the transition to lifelong sports such as tennis and golf. Spectator sports are enjoyed.
bulletSocial Activities: Movies, concerts, music, dancing, dating and courting, and bars.
bullet Miscellaneous: Shopping, television and videos.

Characteristics of Middle Adulthood (Ages 31 to 50)


bulletSettling down, established in career and family
bulletSelf-reflection of goals and decisions, can be a period of skepticism and self-questioning
bulletAdjustment to aging parents; often involves some types of care for parents
bulletCareer development becomes a predominant concern as individuals seek to fulfill their earlier dreams
bulletPhysical maturity peaks in the early thirties and then begins to decline
bulletDeadline decade-the halfway point of one's life brings with it the realization of one's own mortality; that there is a limited amount of time left to find fulfillment in life which can lead to mid-life crisis
bulletDivorce and career changes can happen frequently as people search for fulfillment
bulletAs cultural bearers, norms and values of culture, are passed on to maturing children
bulletInvolvement in civic and community organizations increases

Program Implications for Leisure Service Organizations

bulletLeisure pursuits are among the significant means of achieving family growth as well as individual emotional health. Leisure is found primarily in the commercial sector with some involvement in public and private, nonprofit sectors (especially with children). The most frequent leisure activities are home and family centered.
bulletPhysical activities are needed as the body starts to decline. Physical activities can improve a person's general well-being as well as improve work performance.
bulletLeisure service organizations should not be bound by stereotypes of what this group of people want to do in their free time. A variety of experiences need to be offered in innovative ways (e.g., time schedules, settings, bundling of services) to meet the varied needs of individuals and family units during this stage of life.
bulletActivities begun in the early thirties determine the quality of subsequent life.
bulletAttention should be paid to making an orderly transition into lifetime sports and other activities that can be enjoyed throughout the rest of one's life.
bulletEmphasis should be placed on self-directed rather than leader-directed activities.


bulletSports: Golf, tennis, swimming, bicycling, volleyball, bowling and exercising.
bulletInvolvement in team sports continues to diminish. Spectator sports, car camping, hunting and fishing become prevalent.
bulletSocial: Social interactions become more prevalent and socializing becomes more important than sexualizing. Traveling becomes feasible again. Trips and tours can be important leisure outlets.
bulletMiscellaneous: Gardening, hobbies, crafts, television, driving.

Characteristics of Late Adulthood (Ages 51 to 65)


bullet"Empty nest syndrome" encourages couples to re-connect with each other; adjusting to being grandparents
bulletFulfillment or failure of life goals
bulletSearch for meaning
bulletConcern with unmet needs of self
bulletStart of physical deterioration: bodies take longer to recover from exhaustion and show lack of endurance
bulletTransition from job to retirement: anxiety over loss of work role. Increase in concern over issues such as social security, health care, leisure activities during retirement
bulletShift from body to intellect
bulletAssume role of mentor
bulletInvolvement continues to increase in professional organizations, service, civic, and social clubs as well as religious organizations

Program Implications for Leisure Service Organizations

bulletLeisure serves three basic functions during this time: acceptance, dispels personal despair and gives structure to increasing free time. Majority of leisure takes place in the commercial sector during this time period.
bulletIn some instances this group has an increase in free time as children leave the home. Leisure programs and activities can encourage individuals in this age group to volunteer and share their expertise in a variety of ways.
bulletProgramming should continue to take a self-directed focus rather than a leader-directed focus although individuals need to be informed about the leisure/recreation opportunities that are available to them and educated about the importance of developing meaningful leisure pursuits for retirement.


bulletSports: Spectator sports, fishing, bowling, golf, tennis, walking, exercise, bicycling, swimming. For the majority, team sports have come to an end.
bulletSocial: Increased group participation and socializing; involvement in social organizations often increases.
bulletMiscellaneous: Gardening, relaxing, reading, church related activities, picnics, television, hobbies, travel, and service to others.

Characteristics of Older Adults (Ages 66+)


bulletEmphasis shifts from work to leisure: older adults want to stay active and feel good about themselves
bulletIssues include integrity/integration vs despair. In later stages of old age there is an attempt to maintain independence, self-direction, self-esteem and self-concept
bulletLife review and introspection
bulletCoping with death, loss and the prospect of widowhood
bulletPhysical health declines
bulletTendency to be alone
bulletDecline in income; incomes often fixed

Program Implications for Leisure Service Organizations

bulletThe importance of leisure is most evident in offering seniors an identity and purpose for life. The majority of leisure takes place initially in the commercial sector.
bulletHowever, seniors increasingly turn back to public recreation programs. In the end the majority of leisure is home based.
bulletMeaningful integration is important for individuals in this stage. Opportunities should be created for intergenerational events as well as activities which encourage companionship and socializing.
bulletMeaningful and purposeful leisure is important rather than just trivial activities created to fill people's time.
bulletPeople want to feel needed and organizations can create opportunities for seniors to volunteer and share their skills and expertise.

Program Activities

bulletSports: Spectator sports, golf, tennis, fishing, walking, bowling, swimming, bicycling.
bulletSocial: Socializing with extended family and longtime friends, involvement in recreation centers, more activities are done alone. Many activities are centered around children and grandchildren.
bulletMiscellaneous: Gardening, relaxing, reading, church-related activities, picnics, television, hobbies, travel, museums, and board games and cards.

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