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Academic Programs: Recreation: Philosophy

Life, leisure, and living for Christ

From a historical perspective, the Recreation program at Calvin was initiated with the realization that play and recreation are important components of normal human growth and development in all societies. Society must face the challenge of coping with abuses or work and/or leisure oriented lifestyles that tend to contribute to a variety of social, spiritual, and psychological problems. It is in this context that Christians are called to bring light to a distorted social order, a culture whose values are too often driven by hedonism, greed, and self-aggrandizement. Hence, the Recreation program at Calvin College was established to prepare students to plan and coordinate leisure activities in a variety of settings and to develop Christian thought on a balanced lifestyle that represents a Biblical world-view. Presently the Recreation program at Calvin is part of the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Sport (HPERDS).

The goal of the Recreation program at Calvin is to prepare students to serve individuals and their communities by improving people's quality of life through recreation programs. Specifically, our programs are focused in the following three emphasis areas: therapeutic recreation, youth leadership and community recreation. In each of these areas the overriding theme is using recreation programs toward specific goals and to facilitate both individual and collective (community) development. The focus of each emphasis area is:

  • Therapeutic Recreation : Using recreation programs as a specific treatment modality or a resource to enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.
  • Youth Leadership : Using recreation programs as one means by which to foster youth development.
  • Community Recreation : Using recreation programs to foster community development and build social capital within communities.

In each of these emphasis areas, the Recreation program also encourages students to examine the spiritual importance of recreation, play and leisure. It is our belief that leisure experiences for Christians are strongly influenced by spiritual attitudes and beliefs that reflect their relationship with God and all dimensions of His creation. At their core, leisure experiences revolve around our reason for being. Our work dominated value system has often drawn us away from our dependence on God and toward a more self-centered, materialistic, possession-oriented culture. For many, play and recreation become a means of escaping a world of work, or a rationale for accumulating more possessions or ego-enhancing experiences. But this, too, is a distortion of what God intends for His people. To discover what it means to be human, we need to know God. As C.S. Lewis notes in his authbiography, Surprised by Joy, it is in times of rest and leisure that God often reveals Himself (Ps. 46:10). Thus, when properly cast, play and leisure experiences can become an antidote for a work dominated society that depends more and more on all the things work has created and less and less on the Creator of all things. As God's image bearers, we are called to work, play, and worship in a spirit of freedom and adoration, celebrating, and sharing the unique gifts we have been given to use in His service. In so doing, we will discover our uniqueness as human beings. Developing goal-directed recreation programs that address these types of issues is an important component of the Recreation program and is an important tie to the mission of Calvin College .

With this background we would like to welcome you to the exciting world of leisure and recreation. The recreation profession offers students a wide range of options of professional opportunities and it is our hope that you will explore the possibilities and find the niche that God is calling you to serve in His kingdom today. WELCOME!

Our inherited, work-valued social and economic systems have conditioned us to worship our work, to work at our play and to play at our worship. If we are bold enough to meet the challenges of the leisure (including sport & fitness) revolution and begin laying the spiritual, as well as the institutional, foundations for a leisure oriented society, we will find it increasingly possible to experience our work as play, to see our play as worship and to make worship our work. That will not consummate the kingdom of heaven, but it will certainly enable the body of Christ to raise its life and mission in this world to new heights of ecstasy.

Gordon Dahl (1972).
Work, Play, and Worship in
a Leisure Oriented Society



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A liberal arts philosophy

Calvin's Recreation program is meant to compliment Calvin's liberal arts core. The goal of the liberal arts core is to teach you how to think, to problem solve and reason as well as how to communicate. According to Albert Einstein “the school should always have as its aim that the young person leave it as a harmonious personality, not as a specialist. This, in my opinion, is true in a certain sense even for technical (and professional) schools…It is essential that the student acquire an understanding and a lively feeling for values. The student must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally good.” With this in mind, we would like to challenge the Recreation major to see his/her academic experience within the context of the following principles:

•  Excellence . We should strive for excellence in all that we do in this classroom. As T. Edison reminds us - If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.

•  Kaizen (Japanese) . A society wide covenant of mutual help in the process of getting better and better, day by day!

•  Cooperative learning . Education needs to be an interactive process with everyone in the class learning from each other.

•  Interdisciplinary learning . Make connections between disciplines whenever possible.

•  Integration of faith and learning . The true purpose of education is educating for shalom, “the battle for universal wholeness and delight.”

•  Learning for life . It is my hope that we will see learning as a life long process that encompasses our lives both inside and outside the classroom.

•  Passion for the profession . Students need to be engaged so they can see how they can make a difference in this world through their chosen profession. Building on this knowledge together we can the knowledge, skills and attitudes students need to put their passion to work within our field.