Be Our Example

Week-Ender readers, I need your help.

Many of you already know that Parks and Rec Business and Camp Business will host the 2nd annual Fall Festival on September 29 at the Shisler Conference Center in Wooster, Ohio. This is a one-day conference for professionals in the parks and rec, camp and landscape fields and the vendors and contractors who support them with products and services.

I will have the honor of addressing conference attendees as the keynote speaker. I don’t want my message to be another break-out session; and it should not be about me.

No, the message is about “The Importance of YOU!”

There are already more than a dozen excellent break-out sessions planned in a broad sweep of subject areas, and more in the making, all geared to educating practitioners in the above-mentioned fields.  I want my presentation to support those sessions, not supplant them.

In other words, this event is all about YOU!

The point I want to drive home is one of encouragement, of excitement for what you all do.  When I leave the podium, I want to leave you with the knowledge that each and every person in an organization is important--indeed, YOU are important.

To demonstrate this, I want to use living examples of people, in the audience, who are making a difference in each one of these fields.  I want to be able to name them, tell what they did and have them stand up and be recognized.

Recognition is part of what my message will be about.  Everybody, with few exceptions, likes to be recognized for what they do, whether it is their everyday job, or for something that went above and beyond the everyday norm. Is there anybody reading this who can honestly say they hate hearing somebody thank them for doing a great job?

Yet, invariably, as we all (and I am guilty of it too) get caught up in the daily details of work and life, there is too little recognition, too little encouragement, too little heart-felt thanks to those in the business of delivering quality services to patrons.

The irony here is that the thing that costs the least is often ignored the most.  It costs nothing to say “thank you,” or “great job,” or “I appreciate all that you do.”  It doesn’t take a lot of time, or money, or effort and the benefits will be magnified far beyond the effort.

So, here’s how you “leaders who are readers” can help. 

I would like to pre-arrange one example from each of the four functional areas: parks and rec; camps; landscape; and vendors.  I seek nominations from the field.  We will provide a very simple and brief nomination form on the PRB and Camp Business websites. Of course, you can’t nominate yourself. But you can nominate anyone in your organization, up or down the chain, so long as they will be at the conference on September 29 and in the audience for the keynote address.

We will have a closing date of August 15th for nominations; after that the PRB staff and I will decide who best represents each field and will be mentioned in the keynote address.

The good news, though, is that everyone that is sent in will be recognized, on the conference website, in the magazine and no doubt in other ways we haven’t come up with yet.

The point is, YOU will be recognized, whether the YOU is the person who submitted the nomination or the person/people nominated.  Just doing either of those things deserves credit.

The other message I will try to convey is that recognizing all the YOU’s in your life isn’t something that should happen just once a year, or on special occasions; it should happen frequently--not every day because that would become too routine.

But any time someone is “caught in the act of doing their job,” that’s the time to recognize a “YOU” in your organization.  This goes for your family doing their jobs at home.  Be sure to spread the recognition around so you don’t make someone feel left out.

So, the “YOU” nomination form is on the PRB ( and Camp Business ( websites under the “Fall Festival” dropdown tab.  Nominations are now open.  Nominations will be accepted for either individuals or sections/departments in the four functional areas of: parks and rec; camps; landscaping; vendors. 

Nominations can be for someone who consistently does their day-to-day job well; or it can be for someone who did exceptionally well on a special project; or someone who went above and beyond in some way.  Get the picture?  We’re all in this together, so let’s give some credit where credit is due.

If you have questions, feel free to email the PRB staff at or contact me at the email or phone shown below.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Bay Minette, AL; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email