Field-Based Learning Experiences
Students in Recreation Administration are offered several opportunities to learn about recreation interventions and therapies through hands-on learning experiences in the San Marcos community. Among the field-based learning experiences students in which students participated this year were Rebound, the Adaptive Aquatics program, and a spring break canoeing trip on the Rio Grande.
The Adaptive Aquatics Program has been a staple of Recreation Administration at Texas State for over 20 years. In that time, the program has taken on several adaptations. While the program served elementary, middle school, and high school students in the past, in its current iteration, it focuses on drown prevention for elementary school students. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children with autism and teaching these skills to children, especially those with disabilities, can save lives. This year, Therapeutic Recreation students worked with half of SMCISD's elementary education students in the fall and the remaining half in the spring. Elementary students partnered one-on-one with TXST students who conducted a needs assessment and developed a treatment plan for their assigned child and worked with them over the course of the semester at the San Marcos Activity Center. The program is headed by Lecturer Jessica Burke who sees drown prevention as a crucial skill for children to learn considering their proximity to the San Marcos River.
Through this field-based experience, TXST students are given the chance to make a difference in the lives of children. Burke tells them that if they can keep one child from drowning in the future, then they've done their job. The experience is also beneficial for students who may have a set expectation of what a specific disability looks like and helps to break down stereotypes and barriers. For the elementary school students, the program is extremely beneficial. According to Burke, she and her students will see children who couldn't swim at the beginning of the semester who are able to swim by the end of the semester.
The Rebound Program is a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program through San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District that allows students an alternative to traditional disciplinary action in which they continue their education in a structured environment and are required to fulfill behavioral and academic requirements before returning to their home campus. The program began as a partnership between SMCISD and TXST in Fall of 2017. For six weeks each semester, 25 senior recreation therapy students engage more than 80 middle school and high school students in recreational leisure activities that allow them to have an alternative behavioral outlet. This year, due to funding from a Texas Parks and Wildlife grant, Thomas and her students were able to take the Rebound Program students of-campus for the first time in the history of their program. Students participated in an adventure-based field experience that began at Texas State's Meadows Center and ended in Sewell Park. The Rebound program is led by Senior Lecturer Allie Thomas who won the 2018 Presidential Distinction Award for Excellence in Service for her work with Rebound.
Spring Break on the Rio Grande
This year, over Spring Break, Recreation Administration partnered with the Outdoor Center and the Meadows Center to offer students an 83-mile canoe trip down the lower canyons of the Rio Grande. The trip was led by Assistant Professor Dr. Anthony Deringer who was joined by about 12 students. On the journey, students received lessons on rock formations, saw a late 1800s/early 1900s cave dwelling along the river, soaked in hot springs, and met local legend Keith Bowden.
The group spent eight days on the river, pulling over periodically to camp overnight. According to Deringer, the experience brought out students' ability to challenges themselves, push themselves both physically and psychology and try new things. By the end of the journey, students understood the ins and outs of paddling canoe, and even successfully paddled through a class 3 rapid. Along the way, Deringer incorporated course work on national history and leave no trace. This is the first year Deringer led this iteration of the trip and he plans to continue to offer Outdoor Recreation students a field-based learning experience each spring break.