Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Recreation Conference Celebrates 50 Years

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Recreation Conference Celebrates 50 Years

Article excerpt

A long with a flood of other baby boomers, the North Carolina Municipal and County Directors Conference (MCRDC) turned 50 in February. This conference began formally in 1948 under the leadership of Harold D. Meyer, faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. MCRDC boasts the longest ongoing recreation-training event in the United States.

The first meeting, in 1946, was an informal gathering around a table at the Naval Armory Building on campus. Initially the group was called "the big five," since only the major urban-area directors (Durham, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Raleigh) were involved. Smaller departments were added immediately. At the first official conference in 1948, 28 individuals attended the Municipal Recreation Executives meeting. For the first 25 years, only municipal directors met before county departments were established.

The format for the early years included a "swap shop" event where individuals met, divided by community size, for an evening and talked about whatever subjects were introduced from the floor. The next day, the entire group addressed timely topics presented by invited speakers or panels.

In the beginning, the founders determined that no officers would be elected and no minutes or proceedings kept. This structure encouraged directors to speak openly about any topic concerning their profession or individual job. Since that time, a planning committee of elected directors hap been instrumental, although the event continues to be coordinated by UNC-Chapel Hill. The committee represents the wishes of the participants. In addition, the conference has received support in planning from the recreation consultants who are funded by the state of North Carolina.

The meetings of the first 25 years were coordinated by Meyer. He always led the charge for more and better recreation, meeting the challenges of society and improved professional preparation. He traditionally gave a challenge at the closing meeting, saying, "Recreation will be more important tomorrow than it is today." Since that time, the meetings have been coordinated by such noted professionals as Doug Sessoms, Tom Stein, and Lee Meyer. …

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