If you’re headed to the 5th annual Clemson Community Play Day at Nettles Park this Saturday, you’re likely to see several Clemson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM) students and Clemson Outdoor Lab staff on the job.
Clemson’s Community Play Day is a large community event that attracts several hundred people every year, and is organized through a partnership between the US Play Coalition and the City of Clemson. The event is free and encourages families to get up, get out and go play with several fun activities and games, including inflatables and crafts. This year’s event is on Saturday, September 14 between 11 am to 2 pm.
More than 40 PRTM students are volunteering at this year’s event, as part of their learning requirement for either the department’s EDGE undergraduate program or a course in Advanced Program Planning. Their roles include operating the registration area, helping to lead activity stations, and assisting with the event’s set up and take down.
According to Stephanie Garst, Executive Director of the US Play Coalition, having students fill on-site roles at the event is critical to the day’s success. Students also gain an on-the-job perspective of what goes into planning and implementing a large, family-friendly, outdoor event.
“Helping with Clemson’s Community Play Day gives our students more of an understanding of what needs to be considered when implementing an event of this size and scope,” she says. “There are so many factors that come into play, from accessibility and inclusion to risk management and safety. We hope that everyone who wants to attend our Play Day is able to explore different types of play while they are with us.”
After the event, students write a reflective paper about their volunteer experience, including what they learned and how it connected to what they have learned in the classroom.
“Volunteering for events such as Clemson Community Play Day offers students meaningful examples of the principles they are learning through lectures,” says Assistant Professor Dr. Harrison Pinckney, who teaches the Advanced Program Planning class. “The reflective papers students are asked to write after they volunteer brings their practical and academic experiences together into applied learning.”
PRTM EDGE Coordinator and Senior Lecturer Dr. Teresa Tucker adds that these types of volunteer experiences are also central to the innovative, immersive experience the EDGE program creates for sophomore students, taking a collaborative approach to delivering core parks, recreation and tourism management content.
“We supplement all of our classroom content with applied experiences that give students insight into a concept as both a learner and a future professional,” she says. “This type of experience gives us an opportunity to discuss as a group how they might manage working with volunteers in the future – knowledge that they are likely to draw on when they start working in the parks, recreation and tourism fields.”
Clemson Community Play Day is offered every year through a partnership between the US Play Coalition and the City of Clemson’s Parks and Recreation department, with support from Clemson University’s Outdoor Lab.
Visit the Clemson Community Play Day Facebook page for details about Saturday’s event.