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Welcome to the Cooperative recreation mini wiki at Scratchpad!
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Cooperative recreation includes folk dancing, crafts, singing, informal dramatics, and games. It would be a sub-set of a more general category of recreation, which could include any of these specific activities, plus a lot of others. "Cooperative recreation" is an approach to having fun which is universal, but which can be studied and developed in order to preserve and maintain our opportunity and ability to have fun!
In industrializing parts of the world during the 20th century, many of these forms of recreation were collected and developed for groups to use and have fun with. (The spirit of these projects was and is quite similar to the spirit found online today in Wikia and other collaborative internet projects).
Some types of cooperative recreation have been commercialized (e.g., folk dancing to perform for tourists) but there remains an ongoing realm of activity and development which is only marginally affected by commercialization. People around the world carry on among themselves -- it's cheap, it's fun, and it gives people a chance to interact socially without feeling they have to "produce" something to be sold or distributed to others outside their own group.
Sports can sometimes be approached as a type of cooperative recreation, but the ultimate goal and heavy attention in many sports is on commercialized and media-distributed activity, or at least on performance for an audience. By contrast, people participate in cooperative recreation without much of an audience. Also, cooperative recreation is generally accessible to everyone, without the idea that some will excel while others drop out or are left out. Age and physical ability sometimes affect how people might participate in some forms of cooperative recreation, but groups often seek to find ways to include everyone in the program of activities.
The word "game" can have many different applications. The idea of "children's games" like tag and dodge-ball comes close to the type of games included here as "cooperative recreation" (as distinct from, say, 'computer games' or 'game theory'). There are varying philosophies about developing games that everyone can enjoy together, about whether or not to include persons of nearly all ages and levels of physical ability, etc. These philosophies as well as specific strategies and techniques can be considered in a collaborative Wikia and elsewhere.
In the United States, there are perhaps several dozen regional organizations that study and develop cooperative recreation. Sometimes called recreation laboratories or "rec labs," most are rooted in the mid-20th-century American experience. These groups continue to involve at least several thousand participants, gathering one or more times a year. Of course, groups that practice and lead specific types of recreation such as folk-dancing involve many more people than that.