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Profound and personal

Trio of courses boosts recreation students’ environmental awareness

special feature: Environment

Part of a special series showcasing faculty, staff and students’ commitment to placing the environment at the forefront of  research, public engagement and teaching and learning activities at Memorial.

By Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey

Recreation boot camp is built for engaging students in environmental awareness.

The block of three courses is an intensive teaching and learning experience offered by the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation (HKR).

Fit like a puzzle

“Students come to the courses with varying degrees of experience and connection to nature and the environment,” explained course instructor, explorer and professor Dr. TA Loeffler. “Through experiences woven into the courses, the students, even if they were reluctant or hesitant in the beginning, seem to move to a place of valuing and wanting more time outdoors.”

The courses that make up the boot camp are HKR 2545 Introduction to Outdoor Recreation and Education, HKR 3555 Outdoor Recreation Management, and HKR 3515 Therapeutic Recreation in Outdoor Settings.

The first course gives students the theory, the next course gives them the personal experiences and connections to the environment and the final course allows them to use nature as a therapeutic tool in their professional practice. They fit together like a puzzle.

“I want to feel my hands in the dirt, the sun on my skin, and not just talk about it in a classroom.” — Danielle Adams

“I am a visual learner,” said student Danielle Adams, who took the courses this past summer. “I want to feel my hands in the dirt, the sun on my skin, and not just talk about it in a classroom. I now appreciate the environmental opportunities for recreation even more.

“I am finishing my internship in long-term care and being able to help residents participate in gardening activities, socialize with them and speak to them about my outdoor adventures, specifically in these classes, is really rewarding.”

Canoeing during summer 2016
Canoeing during summer 2016.
Photo: Submitted

Campus in the park

The St. John’s campus and surrounding area of Pippy Park provides a stimulating learning environment for course work.

In HKR 2545, only the first 30 minutes is spent in the classroom; the remainder of the class is spent outside exploring outdoor recreation activities in the environment. In both HKR 3515 and 3555, about half the class is spent outdoors.

“Without the lived and embodied experience of nature and the environment, these courses would not be nearly as powerful, meaningful or educative,” said Dr. Loeffler.

By the end of the recreation boot camp, Dr. Loeffler says she observes that students have had “profound personal experiences.” They are committed to the conservation and preservation of nature and the environment. They learn the importance and potential of the outdoor environment in their professional practice.

HKR 2545 students during summer 2016.
HKR 2545 students during summer 2016.
Photo: Submitted

“HKR 3515 allows therapeutic recreation students to further understand why they need to take outdoor courses and it allows community recreation students to have access to therapeutic uses.

“It also allows us at the school to continue to deepen our curriculum related to inclusion in outdoor recreation.”

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