Making Education an Adventure

“As a result of this trip, I definitely have a better understanding of the RST industry as a whole.”

Meridith Bradford, RST

“This trip was definitely transformational. It helped me get a bigger understanding of how RST management works outside our little bubble we call Champaign.”

Gus Psimoulis, RST

“I learned a lot, most importantly how to critically view my experience as a tourist. The trip broadened my horizons and opened new doors for me.”

Youyou Zhang, RST

These are some of the comments made by students enrolled last spring in AHS 199 Building Community through Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. The brainchild of Dr. Michael Raycraft, lecturer in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, the course included eight weeks of classroom instruction about the role of sport, recreation, and tourism in community development, followed by a road trip to outstanding tourist attractions in Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. These included the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY; Hershey Park and Chocolate World in Hershey, PA; the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH; and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, IN.

“These visits provide an amazing opportunity for students to apply insights from the classroom, interact with RST professionals, and have a unique and personal experience with their classmates and faculty,” Dr. Raycraft said. Many of the professionals from whom students learned about the history and daily operations of various sites were University of Illinois alumni.

“Being an economics major, I found it really easy to apply what I have learned in my classes to what we were being introduced to on the trip. I found out that RST is closely relatable to economics. I feel that this trip was one of the greatest school experiences I have ever had.”

Dino Petrov, Economics

“With my particular interest in the RST industry being in adapted sports, I was particularly in tune with how each of our stops catered to people who have my type of special needs. The opportunities I had to do things such as zip lining and riding roller coasters showed me that there were efforts made to accommodate as many people as possible. I also spoke with professionals about how their organizations work with people with disabilities.”

Meridith Bradford, RST

“The comparisons among stops really helped me to think more about what makes facilities great and what each could improve upon. There was a good variety of destinations which kept the trip interesting, with museums, physical activities, and tours. This trip really opened my eyes to all the different opportunities I have.”

Gus Psimoulis, RST

“The trip deepened my understanding of RST-related work in the United States. As an international student, I did not know enough about American popular culture. Because I and the other students stayed together, we had more chances to communicate, and I learned about baseball and American culture.”

Youyou Zhang, RST

“This trip will definitely affect the way I look at certain organizations in the RST industry. I went into each destination with a ‘critiquing mentality’ and applied it to each destination’s operations and overall product. All of the things I learned are transferable as I go into the classroom and pursue a job in this industry.”

Holt Erikson, RST

“This trip was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. I found it intriguing to see which sites put a ton of time and effort into their facilities and which do not put in as much time and care as they should. I would definitely recommend this class to others. I made some amazing friendships with my fellow classmates on the trip, for which I could not be more thankful.”

Christian Wood, RST