How to Start a Recreation Center

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Children can learn healthy habits at recreation centers.
Children can learn healthy habits at recreation centers. (Image: IT Stock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

A recreation center offers opportunities for children, and in some cases for adults, to exercise, form a healthy community and have fun in a safe, constructive environment. Recreation centers can be set up as nonprofit organizations or they can charge for their services. Owners and operators of recreation centers often enjoy the many benefits that the centers offer to their communities, and though starting a center may be difficult, it can also be rewarding for those involved in the project.

Things You'll Need

  • Name for the recreation center
  • Business plan
  • Funding
  • Employees or volunteers
  • Advertising
  • Location
  • Equipment

Choose a name for your recreation center. The name should be easy to spell and pronounce and should attract customers and funding by inspiring positive, meaningful or fun thoughts. If possible, write out a business plan to better organize your goals.

Determine what services your recreation center will provide and to whom. Specify the age range of your target clientele. The services you choose to provide will determine how much space you need, what type of equipment you purchase and who you need to reach with your advertisements.

Select a location for the recreation center. The center should be in a location that is easily accessible to customers, and the building and grounds that house the recreation center should be large enough to host the necessary equipment, courts and play areas. Have a contractor assess the property to ensure that it meets city codes and guidelines.

Acquire funding for your project. This can be done in various ways, including loans, donations, fundraisers and grants. Grants are offered by the government and other agencies and you may need the help of a grant writer or financial professional to acquire one. Most grants are offered to nonprofit organizations.

Contact potential employees or volunteers for the project. Make sure that your employees and volunteers are qualified to work with children, if that's your clientele, and teach and participate in the sports, games or recreational activities you offer at the center.

Set up play areas, courts and games on your property. You can also decorate your recreation center to make it more attractive to guests or customers. Purchase any equipment necessary, including sports paraphernalia, gear and protective equipment.

Advertise for your recreation center. Speak with local schools, clubs and organizations about your goals, the services you offer, your location and your hours of operation. Pass out or hang up fliers and brochures and use social networking or other media outlets to spread the word about your center. You can also speak directly with parents and potential clients.

Open your center. It may be a good idea to have a launch party to attract families and groups to the center for the first time. Brief all employees and volunteers and have them ready to answer questions about the center.

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