“Checkers, Crocheting, Cricket: New Ward Recreation Emphasis Now Includes Everyone,” Ensign, Apr. 1975, 67–68
“Think of what we could do with a recreation program in each ward or branch of the Church that would involve the entire ward family in wholesome activities—members of individual families participating with other families. Single people, unmarried, divorced, widows, and widowers, the active and the less active, all joined together in opportunities that would recreate and regenerate, that would bring rich social and physical and spiritual benefits to those involved.” (Elder Marion D. Hanks, remarks at June Conference, the Ensign, September 1974, p. 91.)
Forty-nine million adult Americans recently made some interesting responses to a survey conducted by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Only a few more than half felt they got enough exercise; most thought girls as well as boys should have the opportunity of participating in sports programs. Most felt they had become “spectators rather than participants,” and that more emphasis should be placed on developing skills in “lifetime sports” that can be engaged in during the adult years—and even by the elderly.
The Church has now initiated a “Priesthood Athletic and Recreation Program” for all Church members. The new program falls under the direction of the ward athletic and recreation directors.
The present competitive athletic program is to continue on a vigorous level, but the new recreation emphasis would be an effort to involve the total ward family—including those who are inactive or who have physical impairments—in a program of recreation in which they can participate.
The goals of the program are to involve more participants and to urge participation on a broader basis than could naturally be expected in a competitive athletic program.
Widely used and accepted by Church members, the program could serve as a vehicle to develop basic human qualities such as physical well-being, the sense of achievement, fellowship, the joy of creation, the sense of service, and emotional stability.
The possibilities are almost endless. The recreation program can initiate physical activities (such as jogging, bicycling, hiking, and bowling), but can include arts and crafts, drama, dance, music, outing and nature activities, literary and mental activities, neighborhood gatherings, and service activities.
Consider what happened in the Boise Idaho North Stake under the direction of then stake president Vaughn J. Featherstone, now second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. In the period of just one year, the stake offered 28 different activities for all ages and physical capacities, some of which included snow skiing, roller skating, swimming and diving, horseshoes, ping pong, golf, wrestling, camping, chess and checkers, a raft race, and paddleball.
By broadening the concept of Church athletics to include recreation, giving joy and fulfillment to each individual can be an even easier and more realistic goal, since those who might not otherwise participate in a regular program of athletics can be involved. Leaders see it as a tool to involve whole families, strengthen testimonies, and reactivate our own members as well as attract investigators to the Church.