Recreation and Leisure Services placement is ‘gold’ to Keary Dean, who went to Whistler Olympic Park

keary-deanKeary Dean believes you get out of life what you put into it, which is why the Fleming College graduate chose a program that speaks to his values and could help him begin a career and education journey that’s meaningful to him.

“It seemed like a great place to start when you were, like me, unsure of what exactly to do career-wise. Because the job opportunities are so varied, it gave me room to be flexible and figure things out along the way,” said Keary of Fleming’s Recreation and Leisure Services program. “This program valued the elements of good-natured fun, leadership development and healthy living—this stuff really appealed to me. Lastly, I was sold on the potential of having an adventurous placement experience.”

In the Recreation and Leisure Services program, students learn:

  • how to manage and develop recreation programs
  • marketing and human resources
  • event management and facilities operations
  • inclusive recreation
  • research
  • leisure and lifestyle enhancement, and more.

In this program, students also develop leadership skills and gain new skills through field trips such as rock climbing, high/low rope, canoeing, kayaking, theatre, golf, swimming, caving and hiking. At the end of the program, students apply their skills in a four-month placement.

“My experience at Fleming is best described as a period of exponential personal growth, facilitated by my teachers, the courses and especially my fellow classmates,” said Keary, who graduated in 2018. “There were so many opportunities presented while at Fleming and I really made it my goal to try as many new things as I could—the old adage you get out of life what you put into it comes to mind.”

One of those opportunities was the program placement, and Keary knew just the place he wanted to spend four months…

“Because I had visited B.C. the summer prior to my final semester – and the trip made such a positive impact on me – I knew I had to go back,” he said. “If you want to have meaningful experiences, you first need to be in touch with what is meaningful to you.”

Keary said he worked hard preparing for the move and planned out all the little details before heading to B.C.

“If you have family or friends that live outside of your hometown, or you have travelled in the past, use those connections. Use your networking skills to your advantage and don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone,” said Keary on what advice he would offer current students. “Investing in travel is worthwhile and enriches your life in many ways!”

runwhistlerKeary spent his placement at Whistler Olympic Park and was later hired as Guest Service Representative, where he fit guests with cross-country and snowshoeing gear, provided equipment orientation and trail recommendations, and covered the entry booth to the Park.

“The coolest experience on the job was learning how to cross-country ski and then actually racing in a 15km event called the ‘Payak Loppet.’ I grew up snowboarding, but never skiing, and I found it thrilling learning a new sport,” he said. “Generally speaking, being way out in the wilderness, surrounded by mountains, is both awe-inspiring and humbling. It is a different lifestyle out here, people really love where they live. There is a level of enthusiasm that is undeniable.”

Keary credits Fleming College with developing his time management skills, accountability and professionalism, which are all skills he used on the job.

“Having deadlines for course work, having a weekly structure, being accountable to your classmates… these are practical skills to hone and are crucial for success in the working world,” he said.

After the summer work season ended, Keary headed to Vancouver to study nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. He plans to utilize his Fleming education and nutrition knowledge in a career as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a specialization in sports nutrition.

His advice to all students is to make self-care the number one priority. “Eat well, exercise and find creative outlets,” he said. “Take time to feel good about your daily accomplishments.”