A successful journey to a Certificate in Northern Recreation Management

Learners who got on board for the “next leg of the Recreation North learning journey” in October 2020 can be proud of their achievements (and collection of new badges) as they complete the Certificate in Northern Recreation Management this spring. The new Certificate adds another layer that builds on participants’ prior learning and/or experiences, and deepens their understanding of recreation in the North. Caroline Sparks, Recreation North’s Learning Consultant, designed the new Certificate program to enhance critical thinking and awareness of important topics like legal risk, evaluation, and volunteer management. The new advanced learning events (courses) follow the familiar “2 by 2 by 2” format (with two weeks, two conference calls, and two required learning activities) and include some that extend two weeks longer and require a bit more research, reading, analysis, and discussion than core learning events.

While advanced learning events develop management-related skills and knowledge, there are other benefits: “The new Certificate in Northern Recreation Management will be helpful for anyone wanting to pursue certification through the Northern pathway to the CPRA Professional Development Certification Program[1].” 

Participants were asked how they felt about the increased expectations, structure, and delivery of the advanced training. Christina Moore found she was able to stay engaged with the advanced training as it was “totally relevant” and provided what she needed in her job as an Indigenous Youth Worker for the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre in Yellowknife. The learning events often coincided with tasks at work; BF102 Proposal Writing took place when she was writing a proposal and BF103 Reporting in Recreation was offered just before the end of the fiscal year.

Some participants, like Glenn Guevara from Inuvik, welcomed the opportunity to ask questions to deepen understanding and to spend more time on interesting topics that provided relevant information. Trisha Johnnie, a recreation worker from Carmacks, enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about recreation management. The training “gave me a lot of ideas – how to make different templates, why we need waivers, how to encourage volunteers, and what’s involved in running different recreation programs.”  

Brandon Thom appreciated the Northern focus of the training and its relevance to his new job as the Recreation Coordinator in Fort Providence, NWT. While he had taken similar training during his studies at Camosun College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport and Fitness Leadership, he felt the Recreation North learning events helped him “transition from working with clients to working with staff and managing them.” Moreover, the training developed his networking and collaboration skills as his new role involves working with other organizations and associations in his community.

At times, some participants found it challenging to complete learning events due to the changing demands of their professional and personal lives. Dale Loutit began the management training during a time of job transition and recently began a new role as a Program Coordinator teaching Indigenous youth entrepreneurial skills. Despite these changes, Dale’s familiarity with online learning, the Recreation North training program calendar, and the frequent reminders from the instructor helped her stay connected and succeed. 

Tasina Pope, Recreation Director in Kinngait, NU, began the training while pregnant with her 2nd child but found it challenging to participate when she returned to work two months after her child was born. She acknowledged the importance of the “instructor’s support and understanding and flexibility” in helping her complete the training successfully. Her determination and persistence were reinforced when she recognized that the confidence and skills she was developing through the training led to successes in her community work.

Those interviewed report that the advanced learning events are engaging, relevant and useful. For example, in RM103 Understand Legal Risk, participants take part in self-paced, interactive activities on liability and negligence, and then engaged as a group, apply what they have learned in a mock trial. Participants worked together online as lawyers (Lawyers for the Plaintiff and Lawyers for the Defendant) while others worked together as a Jury to render a verdict. The majority found the mock trial interesting and challenging.

Participants in the new BF103 Reporting in Recreation explored the process of preparing reports for different purposes and audiences. They applied what they learned to preparing a feedback form or survey; Theresa Lynn in Yellowknife agreed to share her concise and meaningful tool designed to collect information for reporting on a Youth Governance Workshop.

Several of the participants mentioned how much they enjoyed and learned from the 4-week RP102 Evaluation in Recreation. They commented on the rich resources, the surprising scope of the field of evaluation, and the relevance of this topic to their recreation roles. But an equally significant element in this learning event was the level of collaborative learning that took place. Instead of providing a mock evaluation or asking participants to bring an evaluation example from their work, the group engaged in an in-depth online discussion and collaborative work session where they designed a unique tool to evaluate the new training in which they were participating. They were asked to complete the evaluation and present a brief summary of their findings.

The group chose a challenging evaluation format whereby respondents uploaded images in response to three questions and then explained what the image showed – about their role, how they had used what they learned, and where they wanted to be in a year. The tool also included general questions about their experiences, goals, and satisfaction with the training.

This collaborative activity provided a rich learning experience that wove together important skills of working with others, understanding, interpreting and applying new knowledge, and exploring the power of visual elements in a text-based information gathering tool. And all this was done remotely! This was a new area of knowledge for many and these experiences deepened their understanding of the potential role of evaluation in recreation settings.

Feedback from participants and observations of the Learning Consultant will be used to improve the next offering of the Certificate in Northern Recreation Management. If you’re interested in this series of advanced learning events beginning in September 2021, here’s some advice from recent graduates: “Take it!”  “It’s well worth the effort!”  “Amazing experience!” “Highly recommended.” “Do it, you will learn a lot.”


[1] CPRA Professional Development Certification, Recreation North