SALUTE TO BROOKS
The Town of Maple Creek and Cypress Hills Destination Area Inc. hosted the Saskatchewan Parks & Recreation Association (SPRA) provincial conference, bringing approximately 200 people to the community over the course of four days.
The conference's sold-out tradeshow took place at the Maple Creek Armoury, with plenary sessions taking place at the Maple Creek Legion Hall, and concurrent sessions taking place at the Jasper Cultural & Historical Centre, Saint Mary's Anglican Church Parish Hall, and the S.W. Sask. Oldtimers' Log Museum.
The annual SPRA banquet and awards gala was held at the Resort at Cypress Hills.
The theme of this year's conference was "Recreation Round-Up" which paid homage to the western heritage of the host area, as well as the concept of “rounding-up” the broader and more inclusive forms of recreation alluded to in the renewed definition of recreation within “A Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015 – Pathways to Wellbeing”:
“Recreation is the experience that results from freely chosen participation in physical, social, intellectual, creative and spiritual pursuits that enhance individual and community wellbeing.”
Given this broader definition of recreation, and that recreation volunteers and professionals are being called upon to play increasingly broader roles within their communities; the 2018 SPRA Conference explored new ways of defining recreation and the role of recreation practitioners.
The conference also explored how recreation, more broadly defined, manifests itself in all facets of community life, including non-traditional recreation activities such as the arts, culture, heritage, tourism and community development.
As case-studies for conference delegates, many of the conference's concurrent sessions featured Maple Creek and area residents sharing examples of how they have endeavoured to cultivate non-traditional recreation opportunities for visitors and residents. 20 of the conference's 35 concurrent session speakers were Maple Creek and area residents.
Their presentations ranged from discussions about the Battle of the Little Big Puck, Cowboy Poetry, art, photography, music, Goat Yoga, and the Maple Creek CiB program, to living heritage, tourism development, the therapeutic use of horses, and street festivals held in the Maple Creek Heritage District.
Maple Creek is the smallest community to have hosted this provincial conference, and all indications are that the conference was a great success.
It is hoped that that the success of the conference, along with the area's uniqueness as a conference venue, will spark more interest in hosting conferences and events here in Maple Creek and the Cypress Hills in the future.