Since 1985, people in the United States have celebrated Park and Recreation Month in July to promote building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation and to recognize the more than 160,000 full-time park and recreation professionals — along with hundreds of thousands of part-time and seasonal workers and volunteers — that maintain our country’s local, state and community parks.
On July 13, 2022, the Fairfax County Park Authority declared July Park and Recreation Month in Fairfax County.
Now is the time to rise up and support your local park system, because now, more than ever parks play an essential role in determining the quality of life we enjoy. During Park and Recreation Month remember the park professionals who day in and day out work for their communities in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being.
Together we will rise up in gratitude for the legacy park system we enjoy daily. We will rise up to the challenge of continuing our search for excellence and progress. We will rise up in the name of equity and accessibility to share the promise and potential, the enjoyment and the benefits of Fairfax County parks for all.
The Park Authority is committed to preserving Fairfax County history through places, artifacts and stories of its citizens including the prominent, the everyday, the lesser known and the hidden. We interpret places like Colvin Run Mill, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Frying Pan Farm, Green Spring Gardens, Historic Huntley and Sully Historic Site, telling stories both familiar and new, highlighting the lives of those who have made both mundane and far-reaching contributions to the site or county.
Over the Juneteenth holiday weekend, we reminded our visitors of the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation by highlighting the lives and contributions of the enslaved. We celebrated the lives of Black Americans who made contributions to the culture, automotive industry, gardening and agriculture.
Church and family are cornerstones of the values many possess. Opening the Meeting House at Frying Pan Farm Park allows staff to share the history of the site from its construction in 1791 and from its use as a hospital during the Civil War. At the 2022 Juneteenth event, stories of Black Americans were shared, inviting families to celebrate together and experience the spiritual calm of this very simple structure.
This July, we are rising up in our lakefront parks, connecting people with nature and creating lasting family experiences and memories. Our parks are wonderful places for making lasting connections with nature and community, as well as providing memorable gathering places for family and friends.
You can celebrate Park and Recreation Month in many ways. Enjoy a picnic. Explore our campgrounds at Lake Fairfax and Burke Lake parks. Unplug and revel in a relaxing day of fishing. Hike or bike on our 334 miles of trails. Sit back and observe the natural world. Try kayaking or rent a pedal boat. Consider a round of mini golf at Burke Lake or Lake Accotink. Share the nostalgic experience of our historic carousels with your children or grandchildren. Unwind in our parks and discover the overall beauty of open spaces in Fairfax County.
We rise up and provide quality recreation spaces in our community. Join us this July to celebrate Park and Recreation month!
We celebrate our wonderful park volunteers who have been rising up and cleaning up parks!
The Park Authority is grateful to have seen a rise in voluntary park cleanups and community participation, especially evident in the past year. While spring and fall watershed cleanups have long been a staple of the Park Authority’s volunteer program, during just about any week of any season now, community groups are engaged in park cleanups throughout Fairfax County.
With more than 400 parks under its care, the Park Authority acknowledges that volunteers are a vital part of the picture in terms of keeping parks clean! Bottles, cans, plastic bags and other trash plague our parks and detract from their enjoyment, so we want volunteers to know that collecting and bagging litter constitutes a valuable service. And, as we hear many volunteers tell us, it is also FUN!
While the Park Authority schedules and hosts some of these cleanups and may recruit volunteers to participate, most of our park cleanups are initiated and led by community groups. These groups identify as businesses, civic associations, student clubs, scout groups or simply groups of neighbors banding together to spruce up their neighborhood park. The Park Authority helps each group coordinate the cleanup event by identifying a park that meets their date and location criteria, supplying bags and gloves unless the group wishes to provide their own, and providing forms, approvals and procedural guidance. When matching groups to parks, high priority is given to parks in vulnerable communities or where parks are lacking in nearby community groups. After each cleanup, park staff collects the trash bags and uses photos and data provided by the group to lift up their accomplishment, whether on social media or through other recognition.
Volunteer-led cleanups are particularly important for unstaffed parks, which represent the majority of parks in our care. The rise in community groups successfully engaging with the Park Authority has extended park cleanup efforts into more parks than ever. In FY21, 54 park cleanups took place in unstaffed parks. In FY22 that number rose to 89, thanks to volunteers contributing more than 4,300 hours of their time to park cleanups. Staff members have reported seeing a definite difference in the amount of ground trash they encounter after a cleanup group has come through. Such volunteer efforts result in more than the removal of trash from parks. The absence of trash means a cleaner and safer park for visitors and wildlife alike. The social bonds that arise as volunteers work together help to promote trust and common values among community members and institutions. This in turn elevates the park as a vital community asset, rising to play a more significant role in the life of the community.
I want to tell you a little about drop-in group fitness and the sense of community it builds. It’s like-minded individuals coming together. People who attend group fitness classes are health seekers. People who teach group fitness classes are health seekers trained to lead groups of other health seekers in various movements. Ask a regular gym attendee about the benefits of group fitness classes and you’ll likely hear a wide variety of responses. Some love an instructor who tells them what to do and takes the guess work out of exercise. Others like the routine of showing up at the same day and same time for the same purpose. Others are there for the fun which motivates them to return. We know that people who are regularly physically active have improved health outcomes and an enhanced quality of life. Group fitness classes have the additional bonus of social interaction.
Each July we celebrate National Park and Recreation Month, which highlights the many ways our communities are stronger, more vibrant and more resilient because of parks and recreation. After more than a decade of work within Rec Centers, I am comfortable and qualified to share some of the stories of friendship and community that exists in group fitness settings.
All our Park Authority Rec Centers have drop-in group fitness classes. These classes are included with any Rec Center membership. Non-members pay the general admission rate at the time of check-in. Classes are offered at the centers both indoors and outdoors. If guidance and safety are your thing, there’s a class for you. Popular titles include, yoga, cycle, Zumba, HIGH Fitness, Mix it Up, Core Conditioning, and Strength Mix. You can see all the different class offerings online as well as the schedules at each Rec Center. The Park Authority’s Healthy Strides team offers virtual group fitness classes that you can take from any electronic device. The class links and schedule can be found on the Healthy Strides homepage.
Now, for some of the feel-good stories.
Golf Fairfax rises up to introduce the game of golf through diverse programming for women, juniors, families and seniors alike, to connect our community.
Our seven golf courses and four driving ranges allow for all ages and abilities to escape the grind, embrace nature, work on physical and mental health and socialize with friends and family.
Our golf pros aim to create a fun, unintimidating atmosphere to welcome golfers of all levels of play to our golf academies. We are passionate about reaching new audiences by attending events and festivals to bring golf into the community and schools.
Golf Fairfax is dedicated to offering affordable junior options through class scholarships and partnerships with The First Tee Life Experience and Girls LPGA.
Whether you are a seasoned, returning or future golfer, you are encouraged to join us in taking a swing to help shape the future of the sport.
12000 Government Center Pkwy
Fairfax, VA 22035