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RECREATION. America's indigenous peoples enjoyed a wide array of recreational activities. Indians in the upper Midwest played lacrosse, while those living in the Spanish borderlands played versions of a Mesoamerican ball game. Native Americans throughout California chewed milkweed gum for pleasure, while boys from some Wisconsin tribes made tops of acorns, nuts, and oval stones. Singing, dancing, drumming, gambling, and smoking all played important roles in the social lives of many native peoples.

When English settlers first arrived on the eastern shore of North America, their view of the continent's native inhabitants was powerfully shaped by differing attitudes towards work and leisure. While Indian women generally gathered plants and tilled fields, native men "for the most part live idlely, they doe nothing but hunt and fish," observed one New England minister. William Byrd II, the scion of a wealthy Virginia family, added that Indian men "are quite idle, or at most employ'd only in the Gentlemanly Diversions of Hunting and Fishing." As these quotes suggest, in England hunting and fishing were considered recreational and were generally reserved for members of the gentry. They were vital, however, to the subsistence of native peoples.

The Puritan Work Ethic

In New England, the colonists' view that Indians were "indolent" or "slothful" savages was reinforced by an attitude that came to be known as the "Puritan work ethic." For centuries, societies had viewed labor as a necessity, while seeing leisure as more conducive to happiness. After the Reformation, however, some radical Protestant sects came to see "honest toil" as a sign of God's "chosen" or "elect," and to equate most forms of recreation with idle sinfulness. New England Puritans feared that dancing and drinking would lead to promiscuity, and they banned gambling and smoking (except at dinner) as wasters of time. The Massachusetts Bay Colony forbid "unnecessary" walking on Sunday, and the governor of Plymouth required colonists to work on Christmas. When fur trader Thomas Morton celebrated a traditional English May Day in the mid-1600s, Puritans burned his compound, cut down his maypole, and exiled him from the colony. The Puritans did, however, embrace moderate exercise, and they encouraged their followers to sing Psalms and read the Bible. Puritan children played with toys and dolls, while youth engaged in ball games and cricket.

By the late seventeenth century, growing secularization and commercial success had eroded Puritan austerity. Nevertheless, the Puritan work ethic had a powerful lingering effect on American society. An emerging middle class embraced a secular version of the work ethic and used it to define themselves against both the working class, who often viewed labor as simply necessary for pleasure, and some elites, who saw labor as the degrading province of servants and slaves. In the mid-eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin preached the work ethic in his widely read autobiography and Poor Richard's Almanac, and the religious Great Awakenings of the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries carried this attitude beyond New England.

In the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, colonists both north and south adapted traditional European recreational activities to their new home. Cockfighting spread through Virginia and the southern colonies, while New Englanders engaged in wrestling and cudgeling on the Boston Common. Fashionable New Yorkers paraded in powdered wigs and ruffles, while Southern gentry traveled to Williamsburg and Charleston for balls and plays. Transforming hunting from an elite to a popular sport, frontiersmen engaged in wolf drives and "ring hunts," in which a crowd would encircle an area of up to forty square miles and gradually close in on all the game within the ring. (One such hunt reportedly netted sixty bears, twenty-five deer, one hundred turkeys, and assorted smaller animals.) County fairs, weddings, and religious camp meetings also provided opportunities for recreation and socializing.

The Impact of Industrialization

The Industrial Revolution that transformed the U.S. in the nineteenth century fundamentally altered the way many Americans spent their leisure time. As workers migrated from farms to cities and industrial towns, work—and thus recreation—became less dependent on the seasons. More importantly, the emergence of the factory system institutionalized the Puritan work ethic and imposed clock time on the masses. With employers dictating the length of their employees' days, the workday expanded to twelve hours or more in the early nineteenth century. Efforts to control workers were not entirely successful, however: At the Harper's Ferry Armory in western Virginia, for instance, many employees skipped work to go hunting or fishing.

The removal of work from the home and its centralization in factories also produced an increasinglysharp divide between work and recreation. For centuries, the line dividing the two had been porous. American Indians socialized while cooking or mending huts, and European colonists gathered for corn huskings, barn raisings, or candle-dipping parties. But just as factory owners tried to control their workers' hours, they also attempted to eliminate play from work. In 1846, for instance, a Pennsylvania textile factory banned "spiritous liquors, smoking or any kind of amusements" from its premises. Mill owners in Lowell, Massachusetts, required their female employees to live in dormitories and observe a strict 10 p.m. curfew. Children who worked long hours in factories or mines had little time or energy to play.

To a large degree, this separation of work and recreation was a gendered experience. Few middle-class women worked outside the home, and even female mill workers generally left the factory after they married and had children. Housewives—as well as women who took in boarders or did piecework in the home—tended to re-main more task than time conscious. They visited with neighbors between household chores, and interspersed drudgery with decorative arts.

In middle-class Victorian families, leisure time increasingly focused on the home, and women planned recreation for the entire family. Instructed by new magazines like the Godey's Lady's Book, they organized board games, family picnics, sing-alongs, and lawn games like croquet. By transforming their homes into refuges, they attempted to provide moral training and emotional sustenance for their husbands and children. One result of this new emphasis on the home was the makeover of many American holidays. In the early nineteenth century, the Fourth of July was celebrated with riotous communal drinking, but by the 1850s it was a time for family picnics. The family Christmas, complete with trees, carols, and an exchange of gifts, also emerged during the Victorian Era. (In the late nineteenth century, middle-class reformers used settlement houses, "friendly visitors," and field matrons to spread such "wholesome" home-based recreation to immigrant workers and Native Americans.)

If middle-class families increasingly turned to the home for recreation in the nineteenth century, working-class men turned to the pub. Alcohol had been an important component of adult male leisure since colonial times, but with the advent of industrialization. the social life of many male workers came to revolve around the bar. Factory workers gathered at the pub after quitting time, and waited in taverns to be hired. Choral societies and sports clubs met in bars, as did fledgling trade unions. Laborers drank to escape urban loneliness, the boredom of factory jobs, and the anxieties of periodic unemployment. Beginning in the 1820s, both solo drinking and alcoholism rose, and by 1900, working-class districts boasted one beer hall for every fifty men.

Drinking was not the only recreational "vice" on the rise in the nineteenth century. The breakdown of community and parental controls in cities led to what some saw as an "epidemic" of extramarital sex. Working-class youth, no longer controlled by either parents or masters, dropped out of school and created a youth culture centered around gangs. Some of these engaged in juvenile crime.

Reforming Recreation

Such trends alarmed both middle-class reformers and many working-class families. Beginning in the 1830s, they responded with a series of campaigns designed to stamp out various forms of problematic recreation. A powerful temperance movement emerged, supported by ministers, businessmen, and even many workers. By the 1850s, it had restricted alcohol use in thirteen states and territories and established an alternative teetolling culture centered on music halls, coffee houses, and reading rooms. Although the movement faltered briefly, it was revived in 1874 with the founding of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and ultimately succeeded in passing a prohibition amendment to the Constitution. (Passed in 1919, the amendment was repealed in 1933.) Campaigns against prostitution also gained steam in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Paralleling the temperance and antivice campaigns were a variety of efforts that sought to use recreation to foster self-improvement and inculcate moral values. Between the 1830s and the 1860s, the lyceum movement brought speakers to communities across the nation to lecture on history and philosophy, to give scientific demonstrations and dramatic performances, and to debate such topics as abolition, temperance, and women's rights. Although the lyceum movement faded after the Civil War, the Chautauqua movement carried on the tradition of adult education through the 1920s. The Young Men's Christian Association, introduced to the United States in 1851, provided shelter, reading rooms, lectures, and eventually athletic programs for single men. Reformers pushed for both large downtown parks and smaller neighborhood green spaces in the belief that contact with nature encouraged moral uplift. The steel baron Andrew Carnegie endowed hundreds of public libraries across the country in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, explaining, "How a man spends his time at work may be taken for granted but how he spends his hours of recreation is really the key to his progress in all the virtues."

Many such programs focused on children. In the 1870s, New York merchants organized a "Fresh Air Fund" which sent slum-dwelling children to live with Christian families in small towns and rural areas during the summer months. The Boy Scouts of America, incorporated in 1910, sought to inculcate loyalty and competitiveness in its largely middle-class clientele. (By contrast, the Girl Scouts, founded in 1912, taught feminine virtues and domestic skills.) The playground movement, launched in 1885, provided sandboxes, park programs, and playgrounds for children in poor urban areas.

The Commercialization of Leisure

The playground movement reflected the belief that government should provide a safe alternative both to the streets and to what many reformers saw as the degrading effects of commercial leisure. By the mid-nineteenth century, revolutions in transportation and technology, a growth in personal income, and the growing distinction between work time and leisure time catalyzed the emergence of new industries geared to providing recreation for the masses. Railroads made it possible for circuses and vaudeville acts to travel from city to city, spreading their costs over a wider market. They also allowed tourists to travel to new resorts like Atlantic City or extravaganzas like the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago. The increasing concentration of people in towns and cities, together with the advent of the streetcar, provided a market for amusement parks, dance halls, wax museums, and theater districts. Neighborhood "nickelodeons" gave way to luxurious "movie palaces," and by the late 1920s an estimated 100 million people a week were watching motion pictures. In that decade, Americans spent more money on movies than on any other form of recreation.

Such developments transformed one of the nation's oldest leisure pastimes: sports. Americans had always played athletic games, and amateur sports were central to Victorian leisure. Many Victorians believed that, for males, athletic competition built character. Although women were generally seen as too frail to engage in vigorous physical activity, they took up more sedate sports such as hiking, bicycling, and lawn tennis. In the late nineteenth century, however, such participatory sports increasingly vied for attention with new "spectator" sports. Cities and streetcar travel helped fill the modern sports stadium, while mass newspapers created a cadre of fans. As early as 1858, some New Yorkers were willing to pay 50cents to watch baseball teams battle, and in 1869 the Cincinatti Red Stockings became the first completely professional team. In the twentieth century, the new technologies of radio and television broadened the audience for spectator sports by allowing fans to follow teams—or individuals like boxer Jack Dempsey—without actually attending games or fights.

The divergent tracks taken by baseball and football also point to another feature of commercial, and indeed most, recreation: its stratification along class, race, and ethnic lines. Baseball, which probably originated in New York around 1845, quickly attracted a working-class following. When ballparks took off around the turn of the twentieth century, white-collar workers occupied most of the grandstand seats, while Irish-and German-American workers sat in the bleachers and African Americans of all incomes were relegated to segregated sections. Football, by contrast, was first played by students at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. It remained a predominantly amateur, and comparatively elite, sport until after World War II.

Restructuring Leisure Time

The rise of commercial recreation both profited from and reinforced a "repackaging" of leisure time that ultimately produced the "weekend." In the nineteenth century, most industries had a six-day workweek, and a few (such as steel) operated on a seven-day schedule. Since few factory workers got much intrinsic satisfaction from work, they agitated for shorter hours. (By 1900, the average workday had fallen from twelve to nine hours.) Increasingly, they also argued for a holiday on Saturday, which they could spend with family or use for shopping, swimming, boating, bicycling, or trips to baseball games and amusement parks.

By 1900 some factories observed Saturday half-holidays in the summer months, mostly because the absence of air-conditioning made working conditions unbearable. In 1908, a New England spinning mill became the first factory to adopt a five-day work week, largely to accommodate its Jewish workers who observed a Saturday sabbath. The Saturday holiday was given a big boost in 1926, when Henry Ford adopted it in his automobile plants: Ford argued that an increase in leisure time would lead to more consumer spending, including more spending on cars and car travel. It took the Great Depression, however, to make the forty-hour work week and the twoday weekend an American standard; shorter hours were seen as the best cure for unemployment.

Increasingly, Americans spent at least part of each weekend in their cars. Ford's Model T, first introduced in 1908, put automobiles within reach of even the working class, while government investment in roads surged beginning in the 1920s. The car liberated Americans from timetables and streetcar routes and, like the railroad before it, revolutionized tourism. (The airplane had a similar impact after World War II, although the car remained more important to everyday recreation.) Americans took Sunday drives and weekend road trips on parkways designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Millions used cars to visit state and national parks in the West. Although the first such parks were established in the nineteenth century to preserve the country's most dramatic natural areas, governments in the twentieth century increasingly encouraged the public to use them for recreation. Motels, roadside campgrounds, drive-in restaurants, and drive-in movie theatres mushroomed between the 1930s and the 1950s, and in later decades, shopping malls replaced "main street" as centers for shopping and socializing. Older amusement parks like New York's Coney Island were tied to the streetcar. Newer amusement parks like Disneyland, which opened in 1955, were built at the conjunction of freeways.

The Privatization of Leisure

By providing "individualized mobility," the car contributed to the "privatization" of leisure in the twentieth century. Radios and television had a similar effect, homogenizing Americans' experience of recreation, while reducing the need for social contact. The first licensed radio station in the United States appeared in Pittsburgh in 1920; by 1930 one home in three had a radio. The radio initially opened the airwaves to a cacophony of local groups, but within a decade regulatory changes and financial pressures had produced the first national radio network. This ensured that Americans from coast to coast could tune in to the same sportscasts and soap operas. By the 1930s, family sing-alongs were beginning to disappear, and people increasingly planned their dinner hours around the latest episode of Flash Gordon or Drew Pear-son's news program. When television spread after World War II, it employed the same genres as radio—the soap opera, the situation comedy, the western, the mystery, and the children's adventure program—and was developed largely by the same companies. By 1960, the television was on for at least five hours per day in 90 percent of American homes. In the mid-1950s, so many Americans stayed home to watch I Love Lucy on Monday nights that stores which had previously stayed open that evening closed their doors.

The final decades of the twentieth century saw both a continuation and reversal of earlier trends. Alcohol use remained widespread, while the use of recreational drugs, particularly by members of the middle class, climbed in the late 1960s and 1970s. (Recreational drug use dipped in the early 1990s, before rising again.) With the proliferation of state lotteries, riverboat casinos, and casinos on Indian reservations, legalized gambling became one of the nation's fastest growing industries. Videocassette recorders, video games, the explosion of cable channels, and the popularization of Internet "chat rooms" reinforced the privatization of recreation, while reversing the trend toward a uniform experience.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the number of hours most Americans spent on recreation began to shrink in the 1970s for the first time in a century. As more women entered the paid workforce, the continuing need to do housework cut into time available for leisure activities. Clogged freeways and the growth of suburbs lengthened commuting times, while telephone answering machines, pagers, cell phones, and portable computers made it easier to take work home. With the growth of the leisure industry, Americans needed more money to spend on recreation; thus, the average workweek climbed as Americans increasingly shifted from "time intensive" to "goods intensive" recreation. One group bucked this overall trend: retired Americans were generally healthier and more affluent than their predecessors had been. Moving away from their families, many spent long hours on the golf course, in shopping malls and recreation centers, or as seasonal visitors to warm areas like Florida and Arizona.


Axtell, James. The European and the Indian: Essays in the Ethno-history of Colonial North America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Cross, Gary. A Social History of Leisure since 1600. State College, Penn.: Venture Publishing, 1990.

Nasaw, David. Going Out: The Rise and Fall of Public Amusements. New York: Basic Books, 1993.

Rybczynski, Witold. Waiting for the Weekend. New York: Viking, 1991.


See alsoConsumerism ; Sports .


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Recreation is an essential and growing activity in the United States and the rest of the world. It is an activity that a person does for enjoyment, usually to refresh the body and mind. Recreation often involves some degree of exercise as well as visiting areas that contain bodies of water such as parks, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, public fishing areas, and water parks.

Recreation is popular for various reasons. Besides being a way to enjoy free time, many people use recreation as a way to socialize. For instance, according to the American Recreation Coalition, 88 percent of parents believe that participating in recreational activities strengthens family relationships. Parents ranked camping as the best outdoor activity, followed by hiking, bicycling, and fishing.

Recreation can be categorized into two general types: active and passive. Active recreation, entailing direct participation, involves activities such as jetskiing in bays and kayaking down rivers. Passive recreation, involving observation, includes such activities as walking along rivers, sunning at beaches, and watching swim competitions.

Economics of Recreation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, recreation and tourism is the largest industry within the western states and second largest U.S. employer. Outdoor recreation in the United States is a $350 billion industry, with approximately $140 billion attributable to public lands and $40 billion to public waterways. Recreation and travel combined is one of the world's largest businesses.

In the United States, many public agencies and private organizations involved with natural resources are actively dealing with recreational activities. State and local governments operate over 54 million acres of recreation lands, with more than 30 million acres in the eastern United States. Over 95 percent of the 690 million acres of federal recreation lands are in western states. About 23 percent of private land is open to public recreation, but is decreasing due to conversions toward other purposes.

Water-Based Opportunities

Numerous surveys show that water-based activities are among the most popular recreation activities. Statistics also show that U.S. citizens strongly rely on publicly owned and managed reservoirs and lands for many of these recreational activities. Certain lands around public reservoirs are open for recreational uses such as hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, and snow skiing. In addition, their waters are available for activities such as boating, water skiing, swimming, fishing, and canoeing. Sometimes restricted zones are set up so that certain activities, such as fishing, do not interfere with other activities, such as swimming. Even a medium-sized hydropower project can have recreational and tourism value to residents and visitors, provide jobs for thousands, and have a monetary benefit in the millions of dollars.

NSRE: Recreation Survey.

The 19941995 Nationwide Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) conducted the most extensive survey in the United States concerning the country's natural resources. The NSRE was a cooperative research effort designed to establish benchmark and trend data to better understand recreation use and public attitudes. The survey found that the four most popular recreational activities to be visiting a beach, walking for pleasure, sightseeing, and outdoor family gathering.

The participants examined in this study showed strong overall recreational involvement. The results also focused on three distinct grouping of differences among participants: the consumptive group; the water-based group; and the learning-and-passive group.

The consumptive group showed much higher interest in traditional "consumptive" activities such as hunting and fishing. The water-based group was dominated by young males who were involved in a wide variety of recreational activities, especially those based on water adventures. The learningand-passive group contained a majority of highly educated, older women who were most interested in learning and viewing about activities, and in participating in popular outdoor activities such as family gathering, picnicking, and walking. In order to improve planning and management for these participants, the survey provided recommendations for appropriate services and facilities at the recreation areas, formulated policies, and encouraged proper use of natural resources.

Future Trends

Activities that are expanding in popularity are cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, backpacking, day-hiking, running and jogging, pool swimming, and visiting prehistoric sites. By 2040 the most popular recreational activities are anticipated to be bicycle riding, swimming, pleasure driving, walking, dayhiking, sightseeing, wildlife observation, picnicking, family gatherings, photography, visiting historic sites, and developed camping.

With increased interest in the environment and nature, it is important to create effective strategies for developing recreation to meet growing demand, particularly in areas close to water. Recent surveys have shown that extended long-distance vacations are being replaced by more frequent, closeto-home recreation trips. As a result, the importance of recreation opportunities close to urban areas is being acknowledged.

Recreational areas near urban areas represent one of the most important opportunities to meet the increasing demand for recreation. One major role for the government and other federal, state, and local agencies, is to manage recreational areas. Increasing public access to both public and private properties will be necessary in the future as more people spend more time in recreational pursuits. Moreover, achieving sustainable recreation in coastal areas will require examination of issues such as continued sprawl development, growing constraints upon public access, nonpoint pollution generated by recreational activities, and other forms of environmental degradation caused by intensifying development and multiplying recreational activities.

see also Bureau of Reclamation, U.S.;Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S., Instream Water Issues; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Park Service;Reservoirs, Multipurpose; Tourism; Uses of Water.

William Arthur Atkins


Kelly, John R. Leisure. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1982.

Internet Resources

Coastal Recreation and Tourism Pages. Oregon Sea Grant. <>.

Cordell, H. Ken et al. An Analysis of the Outdoor Recreation and Wilderness Situation in the United States: 19892040. General Technical Report RM-189. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, 1990. Available online at <>.

Executive Summary (Values of the Federal Public Lands). Natural Resources Law Center <>.

REC Facts: Insights into Trends, Developments and Other Curiosities in the World of Recreation: July 2002 Edition. American Recreation Coalition. <>.

Recreation. Tennessee Valley Authority. <>.

Recreation Management. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior. <>.


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The term recreation comes from the Latin word recreatio, referring to refreshment, restoration, or recovery. The modern notion of recreation is complex, and many definitions have been suggested to capture its meaning. In general, the term recreation carries the idea of purpose, usually restoration of the body, mind, or spirit. Modern definitions of recreation often include the following elements: 1) it is an activity rather than idleness or rest, 2) the choice of activity or involvement is voluntary, 3) recreation is prompted by internal motivation to achieve personal satisfaction, and 4) whether an activity is recreation is dependent on the individual's feelings or attitudes about the activity.

The terms "leisure" and "play" are often confused with recreation. Recreation is one kind of leisure, but only part of the expressive activity is leisure. Leisure may also include non-recreational pursuits such as religion, education, or community service. Although play and recreation overlap, play is not so much an activity as a form of behavior, characterized by make-believe, competition ,or exploration. Moreover, whereas recreation is usually thought of as a purposeful and constructive activity, play may not be goal-oriented and in some cases may be negative and self-destructive.

The benefits of recreation include producing feelings of relaxation or excitement and enhancing self-reliance, mental health, and life-satisfaction. Societal benefits also result from recreation. Recreation can contribute to improved public health, increased community involvement, civic pride, and social unity. It may strengthen family structures, decrease crime, and enhance rehabilitation of individuals. Outdoor recreation promotes interest in protecting our environment and has played an important educational role. However, recreational activities have also damaged the environment. Edward Abbey, among others, have decried the tendency of industrial tourism to destroy wild areas and animal habitats. For example, some cite the damming of wild rivers to create lakes for boating and skiing or defacing mountain sides for ski runs and ski lifts as putting human recreation over environment.

Recreation is big business, creating jobs and economic vitality. In 2001 American consumers spent $100 billion on recreation and leisure activities. Much of these expenditures are for wildlife-related recreation. In 2001, more than 80 million Americans age 16 or older enjoyed some sort of recreation related to wildlife like fishing, hunting , birdwatching, or wildlife photography. More than 13 million adults hunted in 2001, with overall hunting participation dropping about 7% from 1996 to 2001. Wildlife watching remained a popular outdoor activity and more than 66 milion people age 16 or older fed, photographed, or observed wildlife in 2001, spending some $40 billion on their wildlife activities.

More adults participate in walking for pleasure than any other recreational activity. Driving for pleasure, sightseeing, picnicking, and swimming are also among top recreational activities. Canoeing has been the fastest growing activity over the past 30 years.

Outdoor recreation also stimulates tourism. In 2001, almost 300 million recreation visits were made to our national parks. The United States has more than 778 million acres (314 million ha) of publicly-owned recreation lands, more than any other nation. Over one-third of the contiguous United States is public recreation land; however, these lands are not evenly distributed. Most of these lands are in the sparsely populated western states. There are 8,373 acres (3,391 ha) of public recreation lands per 1,000 people in the West, whereas there is only 294 acres (119 ha) per 1,000 people in the northeastern states. Almost 91% of the public lands area is administered by the federal government; 8% by states, 0.7% by counties, and 0.4% by municipalities. However, when number of sites, rather than acres, is considered, the recreation supply picture changes considerably. Almost 62% of all recreation sites are municipal, whereas only 1.6% of the sites are federal.

The private sector is also a major recreation supplier, particularly for certain activities. For example, there are more than 10,000 private campgrounds, 600 ski resorts, and 4,789 privately-owned golf courses in the United States.

Several important trends will affect the supply and demand of future recreation opportunities in the United States. Increasing populations, increasing ethnic diversity, the aging of the population, changes in leisure time, disposable income, and mobility will affect the demand for recreation. The loss of open spaces; pollution of our lakes, rivers, and coastlines; increasingly limited access to private lands; and increasing liability concerns will make the task of meeting future demand for recreation more difficult.

[Ted T. Cable ]



Kelly, J. R. Recreation Business. New York: Wiley, 1985.

Kraus, R. Recreation and Leisure in Modern Society. 3rd ed. Dallas, TX: Scott, Foresman, 1984.

The Report of the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors, The Legacy, The Challenge. Washington, DC: Island Press, 1987.


"National Park 2001 Visitor Use Summary." National Park Service. [cited July 9, 2002]. <>.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002.


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ReCreation is an organization founded out of the response to the three-volume set of the metaphysical best-seller Conversations with God, received over a three-year period (1992-1995) by Neal Donald Walsch. Walsch was a radio talk show host in Ashland, Oregon, who in 1992 vented his frustration over his lot in life in a letter to God. To his surprise God answered back, and thus began his three-year dialogue. The messages from God were received by a process generally termed automatic writing. The three volumes of Conversations with God appeared in 1995, 1997, and 1998 respectively. They each became bestsellers, and Walsch was faced with a massive response by people who were positively affected by his writing. He founded ReCreation to channel that response into action.

ReCreation is based upon the notion that deep within our memory, each human carries the awareness that there once existed a race of beings who had a deep acceptance of love as the only reality and thus lived without anger, fear, struggle, and war. Bonded by love, these people lived by three rules: Love is all there is; Do harm to no one; and We are all One. They had a code of ethics based on three imperatives: Awareness, honesty, and responsibility. Having once existed, a society of such people of love can be rebuilt, and that is the goal of ReCreation.

To that end, ReCreation now sponsors a full schedule of programs (seminars, workshops, and lectures) at various locations across North America and overseas. A Conversations with God in Action program seeks to mobilize people to create centers to actualize the ideals of Conversations with God in their own community. These centers will be able to offer many of the same programs heretofore only available in Oregon. CWG in Action also has a "Little Masters" program for children. Walsch leads an annual Empowerment Week at which interested people may learn to be CWG leaders, both those who wish to work at the local level and those who wish to train other leaders. ReCreation certifies those who complete the training as Message senders.

ReCreation publishes a newsletter and study materials for people reading Conversations with God. It is headquartered at PMB #1150, 1257 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, OR 97520. Its Internet site is at


Varble, Bill. "Former Rogue Valley Radio Host Finds Success in Conversations with God." Mail Tribune (Ashland, Ore.) (September 14, 1997).

Walsch, Neal Donald. Conversations with God I, II, III. Charlottesville, Va.: Hampton Roads Publishing, 1995, 1997, 1998.


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rec·re·a·tion1 / ˌrekrēˈāshən/ • n. activity done for enjoyment when one is not working: areas used for recreation such as hiking or biking | [as adj.] athletic and recreation facilities. rec·re·a·tion2 / ˈˌrēkrēˈāshən/ (also re-cre·a·tion) • n. the action or process of creating something again: the periodic destruction and recreation of the universe. ∎  a reenactment or simulation of something.


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347. Recreation

See also 26. ATHLETICS ; 176. GAMES ; 320. PLEASURE ; 337. PUZZLES ; 399. TRAVEL .

estivation, aestivation
Obsolete, summering; the taking of a summer holiday.
1. the activity of traveling for pleasure, to see sights, for recreation, etc.
2. the business founded upon this activity. tourist, n., adj.