The 71st Annual Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Conference & Expo was held March 27th – March 30th and featured a NEW location at Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center in Pocono Manor, PA.
The 2018 conference and expo hosted about 400 attendees as they embarked on a journey to find the “Spirit of Recreation.” Exciting new vendors, educational sessions, networking opportunities, and fun-filled socials provided a full itinerary as professionals set off on the four-day adventure!
Exhibitors of all shapes and sizes transformed the hall into a jungle of various new equipment, technologies, and professional opportunities. With over 80 vendors and two exciting interactive zones, there was so much for everyone to see! For those who remembered to bring their camera on the trek, the Snap Shot Game was a hit as participants captured images of wild and rare species throughout the expedition. To top it off, the Community Branch Prize Pool featured brand new prizes and helped to raise over $3,500.
As with any great journey, there is always much to learn. Forty-four educational sessions provided professionals with important information on recreation topics and growing trends. Specialized tours delivered an insight to the behind-the-scenes of our host, Kalahari Resorts, and a unique experience on the Pocono Raceway. Motivational Keynote Speakers Marc Mero and Barbara Heller sharing stories of personal triumph and overcoming stressful obstacles left professionals prepared to return to work ready to face any challenge!
Socials embraced the “spirit of friendly competition” this year with an adult Easter Egg Hunt that encouraged conference participants to search eagerly throughout the day and evening. And it did not stop there – the increasingly popular district challenge took the form of a Lip Sync Battle with District 1 claiming the “ALL District Belt!” Even vendors joined in on the challenges this year. And, of course, each night would not have been complete without the great prizes, dancing, and music provided by DJ Special D, Mr. Radio, and DJ Dave Boice.
The Annual Awards Banquet took place on the last evening of the Conference; sponsored by Recreation Resource, USA. A total of 10 Excellence in Recreation and Parks awards were presented and Lancaster Recreation Commission received the Agency of the Year Award. The Distinguished Member Award in Honor of Robert D. Griffith was presented to Karen M. Hegedus of Lower Providence Township, the Outstanding New Professional Award was presented to Robert Jackson of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and the Outstanding Achievement Award in Honor of Fred M. Coombs was awarded to Helen M. Griffith who passed away in January. Congratulations to all the 2018 award winners!
The PRPS Conference hit a new record this year in sponsorship with amazing contributions from General Recreation, Recreation Resource USA, District III, Hershey Park, Grote, Morey’s Piers, and Rock N’Roll Racing. Thank you to all continuing and new sponsors that joined us this year! This adventure could not have been successful without you!
And no summary of the 2018 PRPS Conference expedition would be complete without a huge thank you to the amazing team that helped make it all happen! A committee of 29 professionals dedicated their time and energy throughout the year to guarantee a successful experience for members, vendors, speakers, and sponsors who attended. The PRPS Office Staff were another crucial part of the team, providing guidance, support, and resources throughout the process. Thank you to all the amazing individuals and groups that worked hard to bring the “Spirit of Recreation” to life and to all of you who chose to embark on the journey!