AORE Association News September 2016 - Page 10

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By Nathan Williams

AORE Board of Directors Member

I hate fun.

I guess I should clarify that. I hate fun when it’s used in reference to my job or our profession.

“Ohhh,” I hear people excitedly proclaim when I tell them my job title, “that must be so fun! Do you go on trips every weekend?”

“I went camping once. It was so fun!! You must love your job.”

“They didn’t offer those kind of trips when I was in college. Students must think that’s so FUN!?!”

I’ve had fun days in the woods and on the water, as I’m sure we all have. But I would never reduce my job to “fun.” Meaningful, variety-filled, interesting, collaborative, inspiring, purposeful maybe... But not fun.

I believe that fun - or rather, the idea that our college, university, military, municipal, and other programs, primarily exist to provide fun for participants and staff - is holding us back. I believe that when we let folks stick to the “fun narrative” of outdoor recreation (and don’t contribute the outcomes-oriented side of the work that we do to change people’s lives), we lose a chance to gain credibility as professionals.

I’m tired of attending meetings where outdoor recreation is considered a fringe activity outside of most students’ college experience or the average adult’s regular activities. I’ve read the literature that supports the benefit of what we do for

increased physical and mental health,

better environmental awareness, stress reduction, trust and team-building, and a host of other benefits we should all be talking about. What we do may be fun, but it shouldn’t be the first thing people think of when they think of us.

I contribute my time, energy, and money to the AORE because we are advancing the profession to get beyond fun. Individual members and member programs offer countless meaningful opportunities for participants and share best practices through our conference, discussion boards, and other mediums. We’re doing the hard work to further legitimize our profession, but I think it frequently goes unheralded.

You could think that, after spending money for a membership, travel, lodging, food (and possibly beer…) to attend the annual conference, that you give enough for all this bold work and advancement of the profession. I politely disagree and ask you to reflect on why you are a professional in outdoor recreation and education. Yes, we need to keep the lights on at the National Office and pay for catering at the conference, but these are just the logistics, rather than the reason we’re all committed to our profession.

If we’re going to continue making outdoor recreation and education part of the national conversation about health and wellness, we all need to donate to our professional association. To answer critics who blame climbing walls for increased tuition on campuses (or question why they exist at all), we all need to donate to our professional association. To keep

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