The Ethics of Experience in Recreation and Leisure Services


  • Charles Sylverster


Professionalism, Civic Professionalism, Ethics of Professionalism, Recreation Movement, Experience Industry


In the following discussion I critique Gary Ellis and J. Robert Rossman’s “Creating Value for Participants through Experience Staging: Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in the Experience Industry.” Although the “experience concept” as applied to recreation and leisure services by Ellis and Rossman is overloaded with jargon, I give it credit for being a useful tool for recreation programmers and managers. While accepting a limited place for the “experience concept,” I criticize it on several counts. Initially, I attempt to clarify the concept of experience and to demystify the “experience concept.” Subsequently, I explore the issue of value-free science as it pertains to Ellis and Rossman’s model. I then discuss the idea of a social calling, its relation to the tradition of public service in recreation, and their implications for civic professionalism. I also explore where the “experience concept” has been incorporated into revised curriculum standards developed by the Council on Accreditation. Inspired by the references to Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence in Rossman’s (2007) Butler Lecture, I end by suggesting an alternative to the “experience concept.”?





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