George Williams College
A Recreational Link with the Past and the Future
by Jay D. Young Kerry Hays
George Williams College has been educating people for careers in the human service professions for over 90 years. The school offers each of its 1200 students the opportunity to examine themselves as well as the world around them.
George Williams College is located on a campus of 200 acres in Chicago's west suburban Downers Grove, Illinois. Over 160 of these acres are undeveloped and provide a wide variety of biotic communities; marsh, prairie, and forest. This quasi-natural oasis, with its interpretive trails, nordic skiing course, and recreational trails on the edge of one of the nation's largest urban areas provides a unique learning laboratory in the understanding of man's relationship to his environment. Further, the near-metropolitan location provides a wide range of agencies for observation, volunteer and part-time work, and field placements for those students preparing for leisure service careers.
The George Williams College Lake Geneva Campus, a historic 148 acre center located on the shore of Lake Geneva in southern Wisconsin only 90 minutes from Downers Grove Campus, also provides an ideal setting for experiential and practicum experiences. The LIFE Center for Outdoor Education serves over 8,000 elementary and high school students annually. A variety of housing and conference facilities can accommodate nearly 600 people. Over one quarter mile of shoreline includes four different types of dock areas and a full smallcraft fleet. Other programming facilities include a demonstration farm, initiative courses, interpretive trails, orienteering courses, 18-hole golf course, and the nearby Devil's Lake climbing area. Students intern in both the outdoor education program and the outdoor recreation services program which serves a variety of groups and special populations in high adventure and wilderness challenge programs. In addition, "Harmony Hills", a 199 acre estate, the College's third site, which is located near the Lake Geneva Campus provides an excellent setting for outdoor recreation and education programs and experiences.
Sir George Williams founded the Young Men's Christian Association in 1844 to identify and work
July/August 1982 Illinois Parks and Recreation 14
toward eliminating problems that plagued the society of his day. The movement he founded took root in this country in the latter part of the nineteenth century and was instrumental in the establishment of strong recreational programs as early as the 1860's. Many of the early pioneers of the public recreation movement had a strong association with the YMCA in this country. In taking the name of George Williams, the school adheres to the mission of educating people for careers of humanitarian responsibility in a variety of areas including the leisure service profession.
Although the College dates from 1890, its original site in Williams Bay, Wisconsin began as a summer institute to enlighten and educate YMCA directors in 1884. The institutes were primarily a result of the efforts of Robert Weidensall who perceived the need for training YMCA leaders as early as 1872. The role of recreation in society was an integral part of the early institute design.
The College's historical contributions can best be seen in three distinct phases of the early recreation movement. These phases are: the emergence of trained recreation leaders, the play and playground movement, and the development of a recreation curriculum.
The Emergence of Trained Leaders
The primary figure in the training of recreation leaders before the turn of the century was Dr. Luther Gulick of Springfield College (Massachusetts). In 1887 he founded the first training course for gymnasium instructors at that school. This event is widely accepted as the first attempt to educate leaders for physical direction and recreational purposes.
Luther Gulick first became associated with George Williams College during the Summer of 1889. His primary responsibilities were to lead Institute participants in gymnasium floor exercises.
The following year Dr. Gulick founded the Western Summer Training School in Lake Geneva. This school was patterned after the one he began earlier in Springfield.
During the period between 1890 and 1902, Dr. Gulick remained heavily involved with George Williams College. He presented lectures to the College community and served as an instructor for the summer sessions at Lake Geneva. He was also instrumental in bringing two additional pioneers of the recreation movement to the school. Amos Alonzo Stagg taught
Jay D. Young is Assistant Professor of Parks and Recreation and Coordinator of the Recreation Services Program at George Williams College. He holds the following degrees: B.S., Park and Recreation Management, University of Oregon; M.S., Park and Recreation Administration, University of Oregon; Ed.D., Adult Education, Northern Illinois University (in process). He has a variety of professional experiences and his articles have appeared in various periodicals and journals in the park and recreation field as well as in NRPA's Network, Dateline, and Employ.
Kerry Hays is a graduate assistant at George Williams College specializing in Urban Parks and Recreation Administration. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1977 majoring in music and history. He has taught music in the public school systems in both Illinois and Wisconsin. Career interests include cultural arts, leisure education and fine arts programming in a community recreation setting. Mr. Hays is a student member of both NRPA and IPRA.
Illinois Parks and Recreation 15 July/August 1982
gymnasium floor work and was athletic director of the Institute during the Summers of 1890 and 1892. He is best remembered for his contributions to the game of football at the University of Chicago. Dr. James Naismith (credited with inventing the game of basketball) taught anatomy, physiology, hygiene and first aid during the Summer sessions of 1900-1902.
The Play and Playground Movement
At the turn of the century, George Williams College was deeply involved with training leaders for the newly formed playgrounds of municipal agencies and settlement houses. As early as 1895 the College placed a student as physical director at Hull House in Chicago. The school's association with this historic settlement house continued well into the twentieth century. Jane Addams, Director of Hull House and an early pioneer of the playground movement, spoke at the College on numerous occasions and students were placed at Hull House as interns from 1895-1909.
George Williams College recognized the need for educating leaders on the various aspects of play as early as 1900. The concept of play in our culture was an integral aspect of the post-graduate course work for physical directors. In 1902, courses were expanded to include discussions on the philosophy of play, play as a factor in character development and public playgrounds.
As early as 1904, Edward DeGroot, best known for his innovative leadership as Director of the South Parks District in Chicago, spoke to the school on the topic of public playgrounds in Chicago. In the following year, the South Parks District completed ten neighborhood parks and community centers. George Williams College began placing field students in positions with the West and South Park Districts in that same year.
As the playground movement developed, the College invited various well known national leaders to teach during the Summer sessions. Dr. Clark Hetherington of the University of Missouri taught at the school for two summers beginning in 1909. Dr. Hetherington's main contribution to the field of recreation was his role in helping to develop the "Normal Course on Play" for the Playground Association of America in 1908 to provide adequate training for playground leaders. This course was taught at the Lake Geneva Campus by Dr. Henry Curtis and Edward DeGroot in the summer of 1910.
Edward DeGroot continued his association with the school as a regular faculty member through the 1913 school year. He was primarily instrumental in establishing and teaching a course on "Play and Playgrounds" as a regular part of the curriculum. Charles English graduated from this program in 1912. Mr. English would later gain fame for his work with the War Camp Community Service during the First World War and the Playground and Recreation Association of Philadelphia where he served as Executive Director from 1927-1945.
Development of a Recreation Curriculum
George Williams College began offering courses in recreation as early as 1927. The College offered its first separate Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation during the 1933-34 school year. This program was short-lived however and was incorporated into the general program of Group Work during the following year.
During the mid-thirties and for some time thereafter, George Williams College's programs in leisure education were very highly regarded. This was the era of Harry Edgren, Hedley Dimock, et al, in which the annual George Williams College Camp-Institutes produced the eight volume series; "Character Education in the Summer Camp". The national accreditation standards of the American Camping Association had their origin during one of these institutes and were further refined at the College in the middle forties. Every faculty member associated with the outdoor curriculum from the thirties to the present, has served on the National Board of the American Camping Association.
As organized leisure programs began to expand they became more diversified and complex. The College's early emphasis on human behavior became only one facet of an increasing body of knowledge required for successful administration. George Williams College, with its small size and limited resources, continued to emphasize careers in voluntary agencies only.
By the late fifties the College was highly respected for its specializations in group work and camping but its bachelor's degree in Recreation Education did not meet the expectations of the larger field. Finally, in the mid-sixties, the undergraduate program in recreation was dropped because it was not feasible to provide the resources necessary for its maintenance.
In 1972 the College and the National Park Service established a formal agreement that provided National Park Service personnel from each National Park Service Region be assigned to the College for a "tailor-made" one year study program in Environmental Education Administration, culminating in a master of science degree. In the following year a successful
Illinois Parks and Recreation 16 July/August 1982
proposal was submitted to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to provide monies to support programs in the areas of natural science, resource management and park administration for a three year period, and led to the establishment of the Institute for Environmental Awareness.
The Kellogg grant and the Institute for Environmental Awareness also had a profound effect on the College's curriculum potential. They provided the resources necessary for a revival of the College's undergraduate professional preparation programs in the field of leisure, and for an upgrading of its existing graduate program in outdoor/environmental education. This expansion began in 1973, with the restructuring of the curriculum and changing the name to the Department of Leisure and Environmental Resources Administration. Now a full division of the college, the Leisure and Environmental Resources Administration Division offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate specializations in the field of leisure services.
Curriculum Bachelor of Science Specializations
The undergraduate curriculum recognizes the diversity of recreation and park positions. Four areas of specialization are available.
Program Supervision emphasizes planning, conducting, and admnistering recreation programs in various settings and program fields.
Recreation Administration focuses on competencies needed for beginning supervisory and administrative responsibilities in a variety of leisure settings.
Therapeutic Recreation introduces students to the history, concepts, and characteristics of "special" populations and the roles and functions of therapeutic recreators.
Outdoor Leadership provides broad preparation in face-to-face program leadership in camping, outdoor recreation, outdoor education, adventure education, natural interpretation, and environmental education.
Master of Science Areas of Concentration
Also, at the graduate level the Division capitalizes on the interrelationship of leisure interests and environmental awareness. The five areas of graduate concentrations include;
Administration of Organized Outdoor Experiences focuses upon full time administrative positions in organized camping, leadership positions in adventure programs, experiential therapeutic programs, and wilderness education programs.
Environment Education and Interpretive Services Administration is geared for those persons seeking administrative positions in environmental centers and programs, school district specialists, parks and natural areas, museums and historic sites, zoos and arboreta.
Management of Outdoor Recreation Resources is the more general of the outdoor-related concentrations, designed for those whose career interests are not as specialized as in the other concentrations and intended for leadership responsibilities in non-urban resource-based programs. It includes careers in county, state, and federal agency ranger-management positions.
Urban Parks and Recreation Administration is intended for individuals pursuing full time supervisory/administrative positions in urban based leisure service agencies such as park districts and YMCA's.
Administration of Therapeutic Recreation Services is designed for individuals who have already met all of the therapeutic recreation undergraduate competencies and who desire full time supervisory and administrative positions in therapeutic recreation.
Many students choose to broaden their employment potential by organizing their program to combine the master's degree with a Certificate of Advanced Professional Study. This program, designed for those who already hold a master's degree, involves 34 hours of course work beyond the masters plus the completion of a research project and an internship.
As previously mentioned, now, as well as in the future, the purpose of the Leisure and Environmental resources Administration program at George Williams College is to prepare individuals to enhance the quality of life through effective leadership in educational and leisure services. The fields of leisure, education, and environment are interdependently related and the resources and services in these fields must reflect this in order to enhance the quality of life.
The division feels that the field of leisure services has both the opportunity and the responsibility to increase the environmental awareness of the public. It also realizes that a broad understanding of the total environment, combined with interdisciplinary academic preparation, must include an emphasis on the importance and the impact of leisure. Thus the integration of recreation programs with environment programs will continue to be the focus of the division. With these values in mind, the College attempts to remain responsive to societal needs and changes in both the leisure and environmental fields. To this end, various self studies have been conducted by the division to identify areas of concern and develop appropriate curricular modifications. As conflicting societal issues continue to redirect the trends in leisure patterns, George Williams College will continue to meet the challenge of educating leaders for dealing with leisure and environmental problems of tomorrow.
Illinois Parks and Recreation 17 July/August 1982