What is Recreation?
Simply defined, recreation refers to experiences and activities chosen and pursued by the
individual in his/her free time; the basis being that the experience sought and activities
pursued, in the real sense of the word, 're-creates' the individual so that he/she may be
refreshed to enable him/her to resume daily obligations, whatever those may be.
Leisure and Technology. Melbourne, Longman Cheshire,167-83 ( p. 167)
Recreation consists of an activity or experience, usually chosen voluntarily by the participant,
either because of the immediate satisfaction to be derived from it, or because he perceives
some personal or social values to be achieved by it. It is carried on in leisure time, and has no
work connotations, such as study for promotion in a job. It is usually enjoyable and when it is
carried on as part of organised or community services, it is designed to meet constructive and
socially worthwhile goals of the individual participant, the group and society at large.
Source: Richard Kraus (1966) Recreation Today: Program Planning and Leadership. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, p. 7.
History of Recreation
The history of leisure and recreation goes back a very long way. The Romans had the
Coliseum, where they watched chariot races and other entertainment. The Greeks had
amphitheaters where they viewed drama and comedy, and of course they invented the
Olympics, one of the greatest entertainment sport spectacles on earth. The list goes on. Even
the Bible discusses singing, dancing, music, and other forms of acceptable recreation, so even
the most ancient civilizations enjoyed entertainment and recreation of some sort.
The Middle Ages
Life for most people in the Middle Ages was dark and difficult. More emphasis was put on
work, and there was little time for leisure. However, jousting tournaments, hunting tournaments,
and the earliest forms of chess, checkers, and other games developed during this time. The
people worked hard, the Church forbade many forms of entertainment, but there were still
leisure pastimes to help develop the growing history of leisure and recreation.