The thought of being furloughed had never even seriously crossed my mind. As I had been observing over the weeks since COVID-19 started changing our everyday life, parks and recreation team members were essential workers. Our parks remained busy, as some trails and paths were people’s only outlet for being outside in a safe, social distancing manner. However, my world was rocked when I received official notice that our entire department was being furloughed.
Even my employer was not immune to the havoc and uncertainty that COVID-19 was having on our world. As I thought about what being furloughed meant, I decided to take this opportunity to make the best of it. Maybe try something new, such as cooking (my wife will tell you I’ve been saying this for about ten years), and just make the best of this unplanned situation. Being furloughed has also given me the opportunity to reflect. Reflect on the things I’m grateful for. Reflect on the fact that my family has managed to stay healthy during this pandemic – and to reflect on my career in parks and recreation.
I never envisioned a career in parks and recreation, to be honest. I went to Temple University and majored in Sport and Recreation Management and I envisioned myself working in sports media relations for either a collegiate athletic department or a professional sports team. Then I completed a few internships in the sports media relations field and quickly realized that wasn’t the path for me. Literally, no knocks on those professionals, but they are tied to their teams. I was glad that I realized this before I graduated. The problem was, what was I to do now? I can remember the Assistant Dean of the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the time, Jeffrey Montague, asking if I’d ever considered working in parks and recreation. I’m not going to lie, I pretty much dismissed his question. However, it did plant the idea of parks and recreation in my head. I’m forever grateful for Montague, as we referred to him, for having this short conversation with me, which has led to 11 years working in parks and recreation.
I’ve been able to reflect on my path in parks and recreation. It hasn’t always been the easiest. There have been times when I’ve wanted to give up. There have been times when I thought I didn’t have what it takes. There have even been times when I thought I’d be better suited for something else. But, I’ve always come back to how much I love parks and recreation and how gratifying of a career choice it’s been for me. I’ll patiently wait to return back to work from my furlough. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy this detour that life has thrown at me by spending time with my family that I otherwise wouldn’t have had, continue to expand my horizons, and maybe sit in on a virtual roundtable offered by PRPS. Until next time….