The Magnificent Seven: the last of the rec majors
By Joshua Thiering
You may have seen them around campus with Nalgenes dangling from their backpacks and Chocos strapped to their feet. They have an unofficial motto: “Getting paid to do what you would do for free.”
But all is not well. They are an endangered species, nearing extinction as each semester passes—similar to the Santa Cruz long-toed salamander.
Only seven recreation majors remain, according to Bethany Chapman, the Institutional Research coordinator. The last granules of sand are filtering through the tear-drop shaped hourglass. The expected graduation date for the official last recreation major is May 2010, according to Jamey Plunk, recreation adviser.
The program stopped accepting students in the Spring of 2007 due to accreditation guidelines, Plunk said. Because of the guidelines, “All we could do was have a minor. So we beefed up the minor from 18 to 24 hours, and that was the end of the recreation major.”
Plunk added, “I know there were a lot of kids who were disappointed about that. It’s a very marketable field.”
With a degree in recreation, students can get a job in resorts and leisure, cruise lines, city parks, National Parks and Wildlife and therapeutic recreation.
Only two students were pursuing a degree in recreation in 2002 when Plunk came to UMHB. Upon his arrival, Plunk received permission from the department head to revamp the recreation program. When they pumped up the classes offered, numbers swelled to 35-40 students.
They added classes like Adventure Racing, Triathlon Training and Rock Climbing, and the numbers increased. Plunk thought much of this was due to UMHB’s location.
It takes “only five minutes to get to one lake, and ten minutes to get to another. We can go down two rivers, and there are camping places everywhere around here. The weather for the most part is cooperative 80-90 percent of the year, and business opportunities are incredible,” he said.
Recreation majors may be a dying breed, but they are still incredibly optimistic about their futures.
“Even on the worst of days, I will still be surrounded by nature and the activities I love,” senior recreation major Andrew Dickerson said. “In this career, I will be able to not only spend my spare time, but my life doing what I love.”
After graduation Dickerson plans to open a bed and breakfast in Brazil.
Lindsay Derringer chose the recreation major because she wanted to go into camp ministry. Now her aspirations have shifted.
“I want to be Dr. Plunk. I want to go to Colorado State University and teach classes in the recreation field. I would love to go and do what Plunk does,” Derringer said.
Derringer plans on moving to Colorado in January after she gets married and get her foot in the door as a teaching assistant at CSU.
“There’s only one other recreation program in the state of Texas where you can get a degree in recreation,” Plunk added. “Kids who go into the program are very unique. They are not in it for money. They love to be outdoors, they like to be around people and are relatively low maintenance. I hate to see it go because of where we live.”
Plunk is “left wondering what major these students would choose at UMHB if recreation wasn’t available.”