Formerly known as leisure studies, the recreation and tourism management program enables students to study subjects like outdoor touring, event planning and therapy as a major.
“Imagine making money and doing what you love, that’s the dream that everybody wants,” said Scott Holbein, a senior majoring in recreation and tourism management.
Classes in the program are balanced with academic learning and application.
“We have a research class and a lot of people would wonder, ‘Why would recreation have a research class?'” Department Chair Dr. Craig Finney said.
Students need to evaluate the effectiveness of certain activities, Finney said. Students may do a feasibility study on an expanding new business or assess the needs of clients, he said.
Besides learning the skills and concepts of research, students are actually able to apply them in the field.
“For example, our general event planning class would be to provide a picnic for the entire faculty, students and alumni in the department at Castaic Lake,” Finney said.
Other projects would involve planning a play experience for 1,000 children at an elementary school.
“Students learn how to develop ideas like play structures and tools,” Finney said.
At the end of the application, students use their research skills to assess the effectiveness of their activity, he said.
“Believe it or not, there’s still a lot of research still involved,” said Holbein. “People can’t come into it and think that it’s a simple major. There’s a ton of work to be done.”
“Our students come here because they enjoy recreation in their own lives,” said Finney.
Holbein, an avid outdoorsman, said activities much as hiking, cycling and exploring are now part of his daily routine.
Prior to CSUN, Holbein found himself working in the mortgage business.
“Sure I was making money, but I hated going to work,” he said.
Unhappy in his field, Holbein said he eventually came to the realization that he wanted to pursue a career in the outdoors.
“Taking recreation and tourism management here is an opportunity I had to grab,” he said. “It’s the best decision I’ve made yet.”
Finney said the program offers students professional preparation in the field of recreation, including event facilities management, planning and eco-tourism. Event planning is one of the largest areas in the program, he said.
“Travels and tourism is becoming a major part of our program,” Finney said. He said that the industry of travel and tourism could be the second largest in the world.
“Students come to this department because of the excitement and satisfaction of working with people in an enjoyable setting,” Finney said.
He said graduates of the program could provide exceptional public service to either for-profit or non-profit organizations.
“It’s an enterprise where there’s an exchange that generally is gratifying and satisfying to people,” he said.
Recreational and tourism management students give their clients the opportunity to enhance their recreational experience on their own.
For those who suffer through accidents or disabilities, recreational therapy promotes healing through outdoor activity.
Holbein recently volunteered to participate in a horseback therapeutic program where he was able to help treat patients through impaired movement.
“You’ll see someone who hasn’t smiled all day, grinning ear to ear,” he said. “To watch the change just in an hour session, you can tell that it actually makes a huge difference.”
For students interested in this field as a major or a minor, classes such as Introduction to back country and outdoor education or leisure education can be taken for credit.
Students involved in the program have access to CSUN’s aquatic center in Lake Castaic where they can enjoy waterskiing, wakeboarding and canoeing.