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contraction of the perceptual field, a heightened concentration on

the task at hand, a feeling of control leading to elation and

finally to a transcendent loss of self-awareness.

Flow, in contrast

to classical leisure, occurs during intense activity when the

environment seems to provide clear, non-contradictory demands for

action and subsequent unambiguous feedback.

Flow, or play, is

perhaps the active phase of leisure while contemplation is the

passive phase.

Both phases, however, are intrinsically rewarding

and enjoyable, and both build a sense of personal choice and freedom

from extrinsic reward or coercion.

What is the relevance of the leisure ideal for outdoor

recreation and ultimately for user fees?

First, perhaps, it should

be said that true play or the classical leisure ideal is difficult

to achieve anywhere, but especially through the highly structured,

externally motivated recreation common in America.


Csikszentmihalyi (1978) has pointed out, the performance of behavior for external rewards (in work or recreation) is so much the dominant

motivational model in western societies that emergent, intrinsic

rewards are often completely overshadowed.

Much of our recreation

is motivated by the desire to make business contacts, meet sex

partners or be seen doing something prestigious, rather than by curiosity, exploration and intense involvement, activity done for

its own sake (Cheek and Burch 1976).

The classical.leisure ideal has been perpetuated in our

culture to a large extent through the transcendental concept of the

Mwilderness experience", a fragile fantasy involving a pioneer heritage, perceived risk and great natural beauty. Scott (1974) points out the similarities between psychologies of self


actualization and the descriptions of wilderness experiences offered

by George Catlin, John Muir, Loren Eiseley and Colin Fletcher.


state of consciousness Scott describes emphasizes depersonalization and an altered sense of time. It bears many similarities to the

neo-classical conception of leisure. Leisure, self-actualization and

the wilderness experience seem closely related psychological


In a study of these similarities, Young (1983) found

midwestern wilderness users to be slightly more self-actualized than a sample of non-wilderness users from the general public.

Respondents in this study with high leisure ethics were also more

11kely to be wilderness users and to use wilderness more often.

Positive gains in self-actualization, self-concept, internal locus

of control and other related variables have often been found in

participants of wilderness education programs as well (Gibson 1979,

Crompton and Sellar 1977.)

Accounts of fragile, transcendent

contacts with nature over the 120 years from Olmsted to Scott may

partially explain our societal reluctance to put a price tag on the


Now, one might argue, the payment of a $5 user fee is hardly a

sufficient constraint to dissipate the pioneer fantasy of a challenging wilderness trip. However, Neulinger (1974:18) concluded

that as constraint of an individual's behavior increases, the

experiences of perceived freedom and leisure diminish.

In some way

a user fee may entail such constraint.

K1e1ber (1979) proposed that

individuals who attribute the causes of events to their own actions

w111 not feel externally controlled and w111 feel more freedom than those who attribute events to others. Kleiber concluded that

persons who believe people can personally change things will hold


more positive leisure attitudes.

The more constraints placed upon

the recreationist by such regulatory management techniques as fees,

the less 11kely it may be that the recreation ist will achieve true


The argument is clearly speculation at this point, but there is a need to speculate. In a study of willingness to pay for a wild

river trip on the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River, McDonald,

Hammitt and Dottavio (1985) found 21.5% of their 233 respondents

unwilling to pay an entry fee. W111ingness to pay was negatively correlated with age, education, income, and (most strongly) with the number of rivers floated previously. It may be that experienced, self-actualized users are resistant to the imposition of an external

constraint on their leisure experience.

Just as Olmsted's ethical argument for parks included both

individual and social dimensions, contemporary sociologists have

elaborated social as well as individual benefits from outdoor


Kelly (1982) has pointed out that many people see

themselves first of all as rock climbers, builders and pilots of

small aircraft or folk singers, even when their employment is

something quite different.

For these "amateurs" (Stebbins 1979),

the leisure subculture becomes the primary source of self-definition and direction, 1.e. it becomes the meaningful community. The sense

of community generated by social leisure can, in turn, be an

important contributor to individual self-actualization (W11kinson 1979). Support for the creative behaviors essential to

self-actualization is provided by the community.

Perhaps 01msted's

pan-cultural sense of community was a 19th century pipe dream, but 20th century American recreationists sometimes derive primary social


identities from their leisure affiliations.

In our view, nurturance

of leisure subcultures is as important as any professional activity

in the parks and recreation field.

The impact of user fees on leisure subcultures is, of course,

difficult to assess.

Perhaps there will be no effect.

But Manning

and Baker (1981) found "101tering in parking lots of a local

developed park to decrease from 26 percent to 6 percent total park

use following initiation of user fees. This was, of course, reported as a desirable outcome of the fees program. But we are compelled to ask why that leisure group chose to move to


alternate site when fees were imposed.

Did they decide their

activity was not worth the price of admission?

What other leisure

behaviors are not worth the price of admission and would be

displaced by fees?

Did the fee communicate a management desire to

restrict their behavior?

Will wilderness users be reluctant to

"lotter" in the backcountry when they have to pay to do so?

Clearly, wilderness areas are different from local parks in some

ways. The point is that we do not currently understand how vulnerable leisure groups are to external constraints. Driver

(Crandall and Driver 1984) acknowledges this information gap

in his discussion of "priceless values" :

...the difficult question is whether excessive fees
or poorly administered fee programs w111 tend to
trivialize or anesthetize (appreciative) sentiments
through "commodity fetishism", "conspicuous consumption",
and demands on the user to over-rationalize not the
irrational but the highly unrationable.

In sum, we believe there are philosophical, psychological and social reasons why a democratic society should provide parks and recreation opportunities for its

populace at negligible cost to the user.

Leisure is integrally bound to freedom,

and therefore


recreation managers and programmers should build a focus on personal

freedom into their policies.

Recreation's contribution to freedom

and democracy was recognized as far back as Olmsted.

The promotion

of intrinsic motivation, self-actualization and leisure subcultures

is the work of the parks and recreation profession, and our policies

must reflect that commitment.

To relate revenues generated from

timber sales to revenues from recreation is a non-sequitur.

It is

precisely because most resources in American society are processed

at a price that recreation should not be.


Many of the ideas in this paper echo the position taken by

Dustine McAvoy and Schultz in their Stewards of Access, Custodians

of Choice (1982).

These authors suggest that parks and recreation

professionals can lead a fundamental shift in American values,

cultivating environmental awareness through education. While Dustin, McAvoy and Schultz rest their case for public recreation on

ecological imperatives, we base ours on the freedom, intrinsic

motivation and leisure subcultures important to the successful

functioning of our democratic system of government.

We agree with

Dustin and his colleagues that the parks and recreation profession must constantly reexamine its ethical base. We also feel that user

fee structures are one important avenue for realizing the values we


It would be premature to propose concrete management

objectives based on the philosophical argument presented here. Much of this argument is reasoned speculation, in need of corroboration

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