Be More than a FAN

Members and Friends of PRPS:

I hope this finds you enjoying the end of the summer months.  As we look to great anticipation of the fall, and all the time it usually brings the soul in regards to relaxation, my hope for you is that you get to enjoy some “outside” time, with family and friends around the campfires across the state. May you enjoy the changing colors of the scenery, the chill in the air, your favorite sweatshirt, pumpkins and spices, as well as some good ole football.

 Regardless of what region you live in, (Yes, I know you PRPS members right away think of all the Districts) but the normal Pennsylvanian thinks from the Dutch Country, Laurel Highlands, Leigh Valley, Pennsylvania Wilds, Pennsylvania Great Lakes Region, Philadelphia and the countryside, Pittsburgh and its countryside, to the Pocono Mountain area, most of us celebrate fall with a team, we enjoy being a FAN.  Be it Pitt, PSU, Steelers, and/ or the Eagles. Yes, we are a divided state from East to West when it comes to our fan base.  

What does it mean to be a Fan? According to Google: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) is usually a spectator. 2: an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit) of science-fiction fans.

Yes, we are usually a fan of some team, but a fan is an ardent admirer.  We need doers in PRPS.  We need partners, workers, and volunteers, we need you!  We need a few committed members that have the enthusiasm of a fan but a little more commitment than an admirer.

I am reaching out as the current President to encourage you to become engaged in the upcoming Fall Membership Meeting at State College on November 16th, and to start to plan for the March Annual Conference in Hershey from March 19-22nd. These opportunities for continuing education, as well as to assist the society meet the needs of its members are provided with the help of volunteers, board members, branch members, and committees. I would like to thank everyone who has served this organization since its existence, as if it weren’t for you and your efforts we would not have served others within PRPS.  

Enjoy my favorite time of the year, embrace the gorgeous scenery, and become a fan, but more importantly mark the dates to spend some time with your PRPS peeps!

My Favorite Team – I am their biggest FAN – 2022 Mechanicsburg Area Field Hockey Team

Moving Forward at the PRPS Conference & Expo

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

― Walt Disney Company

Looking back, while moving PA Forward is the 75th Conference Tag Line.  While looking back – I have many fond memories of friends, learning, all while having an absolute blast getting to know some of the most amazing people in Parks and Recreation in PA. I would be remiss to start naming names, and locations, as being one of the Baby Boomers of this organization, the days and years really do start to run together.  One aspect that does remain constant is the faces of those that have assisted me, and the community in which I live to keep moving forward, opening new doors, and attempting new things!

So with the 75th conference around the corner, I would like to really encourage you to take the time right now, to reach out to PRPS colleague(s) or friend(s) that you haven’t had the time to converse with over the past two years, and set up a time to meet at the conference to meet up and share ideas, learn from and simply network.

There are many benefits of attending a conference, but personally, over many years, the one that has assisted me the most would be the networking opportunities with other professionals. I could definitely write a paper on all the positive camps, programs, grants, procedures, policies, and processes that I have “borrowed” from many of you.  What more of an accolade than that assisting someone start something in their community?

My plan when attending any conference is to bring home and implement at least but no more than three ideas, or incremental steps to positive change. I try to keep a list of items separate from my notes taken during the educational sessions to refer back quickly and easily, and to continue to add to the list. Obviously, I want to learn anything, and everything there is to learn, but while doing so, it is important to incorporate realization into what you can bring home, and what might be later down the road for your community.

While developing your career at the conference, by educating yourself, and improving your performance as a Director, manager, leader within the field, it is also imperative to set time aside to meet with industry suppliers and individuals that can assist with you doing your job at a higher level, by utilizing their products.  Please take time to visit the Exhibit Hall, and introduce yourself to the Vendors that bring their knowledge and expertise to share with you. It is vital to our budget that continues to bring in these valuable exhibitors!

Re-energize yourself, and your staff by sharpening your knowledge, learning the new best practices, meeting industry leaders, making new contacts, and connecting with those friends and colleagues, all while having a wonderful time at Kalahari Resorts in March 2022.

Dare To Lead

by Tonya Brown, Mechanicsburg Area Recreation Department

Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.

My vacation book title.  Dare to Lead by Rene Brown, was one I would highly recommend.  Thru the years, I have read piles of leadership books but, this one is much different in that you evaluate from a different perspective.  I feel it takes you to a place where you’re on the outside of the situation, looking inward from many different lenses.  What can we do better?  What questions should we be asking?

The main question “How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?”  Since I am on vacation and brainstorming ahead to our annual staff retreat; pages 106 & 107 caught my attention.

Daring Leadership – Modeling & support rest, play and recovery.

After the past 16 months, we all really need to take a deep breathe, sit back and relax.  I know it is not in most of our vocabularies.  I was brought up by parents, that I don’t remember ever taking a sick day or a mental health day.  In fact, you were perceived as weak if you didn’t fight through those aches, pains or sicknesses.  According to the National Institute for Play, lack of downtime, has a negative effect on our productivity.  “If we want to live a life of meaning and contribution, we have to become intentional about cultivating sleep and play.” Click on this link to personalize your desire to lead, from books, podcast, quotes, ted talks, and so many resources to assist you and your staff to become the leaders your community

The Final Leg

Women's 4x400m relay - 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships -  YouTube

Have you ever participated in or watched a track meet? Are you familiar with the order of events? What is the last event of the meet?  Yes, you’re correct, the 4 X 400 M Relay.

If you are part of a Recreation Department that offers summer programs, the final call has just come across the announcements.  “This is the final call for all participants in the 4 X 400, please report to the start line on the track.” 

Are you ready for the final sprint?  Do you have the stamina to cross the finish line? Are you prepared, regardless of the weather, time of the meet, the score, or the opponent? What are your teammates thinking as the score is tied? How are we going to get this done? All these questions are all going thru your mind about now, with or without the Covid 19 as part of the equation. This is the last leg before those programs begin in approximately 80 days!

In a normal year, it is too much to do once the winter programs are over. Now, with the regulations in front of us, we are in need of assistance.  Even if you have been in the field for many years, it is time to join forces to get the support you need.  One of those is your professional friends at PRPS.  The staff has established many roundtables to assist you in your research, planning, organization, and implementation of the programs.

Refer to this page: PRPS Education and Training

In Central Pa, we have a friendly group that meets almost monthly, and to be honest, I have looked forward to seeing this group in zoom meetings since last April.  I am not sure where I would be without the support and friendship of these individuals during this pandemic.   If you don’t have a local group to make connections, you are always welcome to join our group.  If you are without a local connection, you would benefit from picking up the phone and calling your neighbor(s).  Build relationships with those near you, be a leader and schedule a get together (well maybe a Zoom). It isn’t too hard to get one started, but once it is started, you will be extremely grateful you did.  Our group has been meeting for years, I am not completely sure how long, but our professional relationships have developed into friendships that will last forever. Thank you to our Central PA Recreational Group for all your leadership and friendship over the years.

Some have moved, some have graduated to other positions, and some have gained Angel’s wings, but no matter what we are there for each other.

The Windshield is Bigger than the Rear View Mirror – Look ahead, while reflecting on the Past

Finding the time to sit down and write this has been difficult.  As you all know and understand the time commitment at work, then add the holiday rush to your daily schedule; it has been one crazy, anything but normal year.  I am hoping you have four minutes to sit down and read this blog….hoping you can find some reflection on 2020 and a vision for 2021.

Photo by on

Rewind 365 days?  Everything, and anything you think of was much different than today.  You were planning parties, travel, dinners with families’ and friends. You were celebrating the true reason for the season, and partaking in religious activities. To end the year, celebrating New Year’s Eve, so out with the old and in with the new!

Have you taken the time to self-reflect on your personal life as well as your work life and the organization accomplishments and changes over this past year? If you haven’t…. you should set some time in your calendar to self-reflect.  Self-reflection is a leadership quality needed to develop a vision for the future.  Self-awareness gives you the ability to understand your emotions, strengths and weakness, values and goals, and recognize their impact on others. 

“Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple, possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions.  For leaders, this “meaning making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development.” (Harvard Business Review, Jennifer Porter; March 21, 2017)

Open this link when you have the time to self-reflect: Click Here

If not, some quick questions to consider:   

What is the most important lesson you learned this year?

What is the best thing that happened?

What challenges did you overcome?

What new skills did you learn?

What did you do for your career growth?

What did you enjoy the most?

What was your favorite moment?

What are you thankful for this year?

When did you start drinking hard liquor?  Sorry, to those recovering…..

This leads into 2021 and developing a vision.  The link is above for those of you that would like to make the time to complete a more comprehensive self-reflection that will lead you into the New Year.

Personally, looking at my own self-reflection, I realize how fortunate I am to work in an organization that promotes learning, grace and humility.  I heard these words over and over the past nine months.  We worked as a team to feed children, develop programs in weeks to meet family’s needs in regards to remote learning, while developing recreation programs with major changes in the midst of the pandemic. I am personally grateful to those individuals that I worked with over the past year, that have had a listening ear, accepted my mistakes, and did the “Next Right Thing.” I am fortunate to have developed deeper relationships with those within our organization. Yes, we have had some tough times, but we have worked for the greater good.  I am proud of our team, and recreation department, during such a chaotic time.  Did we make mistakes? Absolutely!  Did we learn? Oh, yes we did! Will we remember this for the rest of our lives? Yes we will! Will this make future problems more manageable? Definitely!  Will we ever forget the word Pivot?  Not in my lifetime!

I will open the windows on New Year’s Eve to allow the New Year in and make sure 2020 has left!  2021 might just start as this one ends, but life is not waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain. (Or I hope snow!)  I am ready to dance, how about you?

From Voltaire – Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. 

View of the road through the windshield. Snow on the sidelines. Wet asphalt  road. Blue sky
The Windshield is always bigger than the rear view mirror!

I See Your True Colors

The best thing about hard times is that you get to see everyone’s true colors. If I have said it once, I have said it one hundred times in the past eight weeks – I could write a book, “Their True Colors Are Showing.”

When showing your True Colors, this is evident of your real character or personality, especially during difficult times. This idiom, showing of their true colors, originates from the 1700s. When ships went into battle, they had to display their ‘colours’ or the flag of their country. The maritime law strictly enforces the rules and regulations for the flying of a flag. Many ships would show a flag from a different country in order to outwit their opponent at sea. Then, when they were in striking distance, they would change the flag to the real flag they were to be flying, and then…….. attack! This is “show their true colors” in attack mode.

How has the past eight weeks characterized you as an individual? What are your true colors?

Are you passionate about your job? Are you willing to work from home, with all the desire that you have and distractions, for the betterment of your community? Do you accept the changes in front of you, and challenge yourself to be better? Do you reach out and help those that need it? Do you thank the grocery worker for bagging ? Do you help the elderly in your neighborhood? Get the picture?………..I could go on and on. I could draw a picture of True Colors across our world, and those embracing it during this time of uncertainty. Can you?

So if you are feeling a little rough around the edges, feeling a little sad, this is a friendly reminder your true colors are beautiful. As difficult as this all is, shine for your community like you always do. Embrace the challenge, and do the next right thing!

It has been extremely difficult, but sit back and enjoy the song and lyrics of “True Colors”- I hope it enlightens your day, as it did mine.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when
I last saw you laughing
This world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just call me up
‘Cause I will always be there And I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
I see your true colors
Shining through (true colors)
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful (they’re beautiful)
Like a rainbow
Oh oh oh oh oh…

“It is what it is……..”

“It is what it is”………… One of my favorite sayings shared with my previous supervisor. It is that time of the year, when all of the sudden everything is crazy, phones are ringing, schedules need completed, clearances are due, the weather is not cooperating, and there is no water in the pool! Summer is right around the corner…… is what it is and summer is here!

Are you overwhelmed, overloaded, and overworked? It is what it is, but you need to rejuvenate daily or you won’t make it to July 4th let alone the end of the summer. You can’t put it off until your vacation, or a weekend trip. Real rejuvenation takes place by adding beneficial practices to your life by improving your energy, productivity, and focus, so you can accomplish more in an efficient manner.

How can you rejuvenate daily?

Get outdoors. We all know it, we all read it, but do we all do it? Time outside leads to happiness, less stress and clears the mind. Take a quick walk around your office, a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air go a long way.

Check your soul. Take a few minutes during the day to just shut your eyes, meditate and connect with yourself. Refocus, and redirect your mind to a positive thought or direction.

Get Up. If you are sitting all day, the best way to rejuvenate is give yourself the gift of movement. Get moving, get into action. Sign up for an exercise class, go for a bike ride, or take a walk. Keep it simple, but keep at it and make it a daily routine.

Get to Sleep. This is usually one of the easiest ways to rejuvenate, as the percentage of individuals getting more than 7.5 hours per night decreases, causing many health concerns. You will notice increase energy, better focus, and a better diet if you increase those zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.

Action steps to increasing the time for get outdoors, check your soul, get up and get to sleep: Time management/ organization and my personal favorite, turn off the TV. Time management is actually taking the time to analyze what you do with your time during the day. Try making a graph of every fifteen minutes and what you personally are working on, you will be amazed at the changes you will be able to make to allow for more time to accomplish the rejuvenation techniques. Lastly, decrease all screen time. It is what it is, so turn on your app that tracks your time on the screen, you will be again astounded at the potential everyday changes leading to a new you!

The Sneaker Blowout – The Power of a Positive Team amidst adversity

power-of-positive-teamUnless you are living under a shell, or not tuned into sports in America, you might have missed one of the most controversial conversations with sports commentary, Facebook, Twitter, and around the water cooler at work this past week. Nevertheless, this is a historical situation in the NCAA basketball over a team, coach, injury, sneaker, player and a lot of money.  This might be a good time to turn into CBS news for details if you missed the incident: Zion Williams Sneaker Incident

Most of you reading this, I would assume would have a position or stance on the issue, as many of us come from the sporting arena. Even if you didn’t, but work in the field of Parks and Recreation, I would hope you understand the importance of the skills learned from being on a team. The intangibles as learned on a sports team:

·         Mindset

·         Personal Drive

·         Mental Toughness

·         Communication – on and off the playing field

·         Motivated

·         Commitment

·         Resilience

·         Perseverance

·         Teamwork

·         Time Management

·         Respect for your teammates

·         Confidence

·         Coachability

·         Composure

This is just a few of the many intangibles learned on a team.

Intangibles can’t be bought; they are learned traits over years of practice, games, conditioning, and being on a team.  Power of a Positive Team is found not only thru the intangibles, but by what some call team chemistry, not to mention the fundamental skills of each player.   Does the one player whose shoe blew out, with hopefully a mere minor injury, affect this team? How will the coach and members of the team respond? What is the lesson for us in the historical event? How do you respond when one of your team goes down? How do you lead when your team is struggling?

The Power of a Positive Team written by Jon Gordon is one that the Mechanicsburg Girls Field Hockey team read over the course of the season this past fall.  This same book is one that can be utilized in any of your organizations to assist with what makes a truly great team.  I could not help to think of this book during this time of the sneaker.  This situation is far more than about a sneaker, money, the company that made the sneaker. It is about an institution.  It is about a program.  It is about a culture.  It is about a tradition.  It is about excellence.  It is about a team.  It is about a process bigger than anyone player, regardless of the money. Money can’t buy a team; money can’t buy the intangibles that this program has represented for decades. 

Does your organization work as a team, and value the intangibles?  Are you a real team? A real leader?

Many people think they are on a team, but a real team is what makes a group of people into a team. Consider the following:

Are your goals your team goals?

Are you committed to the team improving or just you individually?

Do you truly serve your team members?

Does your communication with the players build trust, commitment and team work?

Do you represent commitment to your team, as a top priority?

Do you show respect, love and respect to all team members?

Do you grow from your discussions, and disagreements?

Is everyone on the same bus? Heading in the same direction, with the same vision and mission?

Are you building strong leaders and building a bench?

Does your team work for the bigger cause in order to be truly great?

Every organization has the ability to be a team.  As a leader, it is your responsibility to mold and form a team.  Teams have their struggles, whether it be the blown out sneaker, or a blown out knee.  The WE is greater than ME, and one person can’t make a team but one person can break a team.  Three things you can control daily to make you a great teammate are your attitude, your effort and your actions, and none of these require any special ability or skill.  These require your attention to detail. 

“You and your team face a fork in the road each day.  You can settle for average and choose the path of mediocrity, or you can take the road less traveled and chase greatness. It’s a choice you make each day. Which path will your team take? “The Power of a Positive Team by Jon Gordon Page 146.

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