$10,000 Florida trip: A junket or a way to keep Rec and Parks “relevant”?
The for-profit Athletic Business Show features early-morning workouts, tours of the Boombah Sports Complex and networking events to “mingle with your peers”
Above: Demonstrations of adult exercise equipment is a major part of the Athletic Business Show now taking place in Orlando. (AB Show brochure)
Beginning today, it will be four days in Florida for Baltimore Recreation and Parks Director Reginald R. Moore and six members of his staff.
Their mission: to attend the Athletic Business (AB) Show, a private, for-profit venue organized by a Wisconsin media company at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
The cost: $10,326 – or four times more than the $2,793 spent by the agency last year to send two staffers to the same show, according to city records.
The AB Show features hundreds of vendors selling mostly gym and other indoor fitness equipment together with scores of seminars that veer toward the inspirational and commercial aspects of adult sports.
Sample titles of the seminars include “Creating Positive Team Environments via Clifton StrengthsFinder,” “Generate Revenue Through Self-Pay Performance Care,” “How to Maximize Your Equipment Investment,” and “DIY Brand-Building Boot Camp.”
One area the AB Show does not focus on is recreational activities for children, who are among the heaviest users of Baltimore’s rec centers and parks.
There will also be early-morning workout sessions, tours of the Boombah Sports Complex in Sanford, FL, and “a variety of networking events where you can mingle with your peers and grow your professional network.”
While there are some seminars about youth sports and aquatics, one area the expo does not focus on, based on its promotional literature, is recreational activities for children, who are among the heaviest users of Baltimore’s network of 43 recreation centers, 120 playgrounds 12 neighborhood pools and 262 parks.
“I hope to raise the quality of service we provide” – Reginald Moore on why he and his staff are attending the AB Show.
The Brew asked Director Moore some questions about the trip in which he will be accompanied by the following Rec and Parks employees: Peter H. Bleich (park district manager), Denise Johnson Caldwell (design planner), Quinton Matthews (athletic director), Robert Schoppert and Dale J. Smith (recreation programmers), and Darryl Sutton (aquatics director).
Q: Why are so many people at the agency attending the show this year?
A: Prior to my arrival, it was clear that the agency lacked opportunities for professional development. I made it a point to prioritize CEUs and staff training. As for the event this year, the attendees come from various areas of our operations and will attend classes and trainings that cater to their individual disciplines. . . As an agency of nearly 1,000 employees, sending less than 10 is an effort to keep the agency relevant.
Q: What do you hope to gain from the seminars and expo exhibits?
A: Our goal is to increase the quality of our athletic services on all fronts. This conference provides educational training on everything from field maintenance to facility design and planning. By increasing our knowledge in these areas, I hope to raise the quality of the services we provide.
Q: Can you send me any reports showing specifically what the staff had gained by attending prior AB shows.
A: Baltimore City Recreation and Parks is a nationally accredited agency through the National Association of Parks and Recreation. To maintain accreditation, our staff must continually fulfill CEU requirements. During last year’s conference, attendees [there were two – Schoppert and Tanira McClurkin] obtained their Youth Sports Administrator certifications.
Q: Will you or any of the other attendees be speaking at the seminars or other events this week?
The trip was unanimously approved last week by Mayor Jack Young, City Council President Brandon Scott, Comptroller Joan Pratt and two other members of the Board of Estimates.
Expenses, including air transport, hotels, meals, car rental and registration fees, are paid from the department’s Accessory Account Funds, according to city records.