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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.


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A Successful Summer

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy Monday!

Last week I officially ended my summer position working as a Unit Leader at Camp Walt Whitman located in the beautiful mountains of New Hampshire. The past couple weeks my responsibilities required me to lead middle school aged children in a variety of activities including sports, swimming, hiking, arts and teambuilding exercises. My experiences have only reinforced my aspirations to go into the Youth Development industry after I graduate with my masters from NC State.

For the past five years I have witnessed how a single camp can positively influence the lives of children. My various positions held at Whitman have allowed me to see the multiple effects on children when it comes to living a healthier and more confident lifestyle. By the end of this summer, my unit which included over 30 girls and 12 staff members, walked away a united front ready to take on the year outside the boundaries of Piermont, New Hampshire. My girls hiked 5 different mountain ranges, slept under the stars, played in a soccer tournament, learned how to waterski, and put on a fabulous production of Peter Pan! Seeing all the friendships grow over the summer left me feeling completely satisfied of the work I have accomplished.

It is important for our departments to continue to promote youth programs, such as summer/day camps, to the families in our community. The American Camp Association has found that camp can encourage new friendships during the year, help raise their confidence, and motivate them to try new activities. Youth programs enhance children’s lives in a healthy and positive manner year-round. For more information on youth camp ideas then please visit our Wellness Activities in Camp Programs page.

If you have youth programs in your community that have been successful, then please share by submitting or emailing your ideas on the wellness site here: (colleen@ncrpa.net



Tags:  Summer Camps  Youth Development 

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Encouraging Healthy Habits

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy Monday!

The past few blogs have discussed ways to implement healthy eating in your community and department. However, it is important to also think about ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle in a manner that is positive and motivating. Many times children can be picky when it comes to eating new or healthy food options that they may have never experienced before. PBS Parents discuss ways to engage children about healthy food choices in a positive and encouraging manner. These ideas can be shared among your department and family members in your community!

First, involving kids in planning meals, going grocery shopping, and preparing food will help them become invested in the process and more likely to eat the food purchased. They will feel included and will be more willing to try something new if they have ownership in the process. Second, teaching kids where the food comes from will help increase their knowledge of why eating certain foods can be healthier for their bodies. When possible take advantage of local farmers markets rather than a supermarket. Other examples include going berry or apple picking, visiting a dairy farm, and volunteering at a local community garden. Going straight to the source will help children see where their food comes from and how it is made. Next, giving them freedom of choice during meals encourages them to make their own healthy decisions. Start by cooking a suitable base meal, like rice, beans or pasta. Then let kids dress it up with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, salsa, peppers and other fresh toppings.


Remind your department and community that leading by example is the best way to encourage children to eat healthy!  PBS discusses that recent studies have shown that children’s food tastes are significantly related to foods their family members like and dislike. Check out our Healthy Cooking/Nutrition Program page to learn more about how to create more access to local food and produce in your community.

If you have any ideas of encouraging healthy food choices, then please share by submitting or emailing your ideas on the wellness site here:  (colleen@ncrpa.net



Tags:  Healthy Eating  Wellness  Youth Development 

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Creating Health and Well-being

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, March 23, 2015


As I continue my graduate work at NC State, I cannot help but notice the similarities of my research in-connection with my work for the NCRPA Wellness Initiative. Currently I just finished an informative book called Restorative Commons: Creating Health and Well-being through Urban Landscapes, edited by Lindsay Campbell and Ann Wiesen.

Briefly, this book aims to discuss that the world’s population has shifted to more urban than rural. Because of this shift, the importance of finding ways for humans to stay in contact with the natural environment has increased. The authors discuss that parks, community gardens, botanical gardens, urban gardens, and public housing campuses offer opportunities for restoring both social and health function in urban regions. The book also discusses the positive benefits of nature, which help the improvement of mood, reduction of stress, and decreases the chance of chronic diseases. Furthermore, children’s activity in nature’s surroundings can encourage exploration and building which contribute to positive decision-making, creativity and problem-solving.

This resourceful book reinforces the importance of community gardens and accessible greenways in our communities. Our past blogs have discussed that contact with the natural environment can include physical activity, such as walking, running, and gardening or passive, which is viewing only.  Visit the NCRPA Community Gardens for ideas on establishing a garden within your community. Physical Activity in Gardening is another resource containing information describing examples of “aerobic” and “weight-bearing” activities of routine gardening. Remember to share information within your community regarding parks and walking/running path locations, especially now that the weather is warmer.

Get active outdoors this spring!

Have ideas? Please email us or submit them on the wellness site here:




Tags:  Community Gardens  Recreation  Restorative Commons  Well-being  Wellness  Youth Development 

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