When trying to define the functions of leisure and free time leaders and the kind of training they need, a number of questions arise, due in large part to the great variety of activities and environments involved. As a result of all the roles they play, leaders can be viewed as people who make the group more dynamic and carry out their functions above all in a group context, followed by a social one.
The basic roles of a Leisure and Free Time Activity Leader are:
– To familiarise themselves with the environment, surroundings and group they are working with: to carry out a “reality check”, to detect needs, and to receive and act upon requests.
– To devise projects and make budgets: to design programmes, to work on methodologies to be followed, and to design and carry out evaluations.
– To get to know and implement resources (human, physical or technical) that are geared towards meeting objectives:
- Carrying out coordination, follow-ups and assessment meetings.
- Designing and carrying out evaluations.
- Encouraging group work, cooperation and consensus.
- Strengthening the team’s interpersonal and creative skills.
- Playing a part in conflict resolution.
- Encouraging each person’s potential.
- Giving advice, orienting, supervising, adapting, redirecting, motivating, and generally being alert to the work team, their activity, and, crucially the people who take part in the activity.
- Carrying out the activities.
– To facilitate interpersonal relationships, strengthen communication and create a positive group atmosphere.
– To stimulate creativity and the group’s self-management.
– To make the group feel at ease and to transmit optimism: to promote enjoyment and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
To be a good Leisure and Free Time Leader we must know the participants, be sure of our intentions (objectives), be motivated and excited, and have the appropriate personal characteristics.
A leader’s personal skills:
Social and communication skills:
- The ability to express ideas in a group.
- The ability to listen.
- The ability to express emotions and feelings
- The ability to confront and resolve interpersonal conflicts.
- The ability to face critiques.
Skills related to encouraging a healthy group dynamic and creativity:
- The ability to motivate and encourage the group.
- To possess a wide range of techniques, games and stimuli.
- The ability to plan and improvise.
A Leisure and Free Time Leader is also someone who animates people, which itself is also an educator. In the case of an educator, we would have to broaden the basic functions of a Leisure and Free time leader. We would therefore have to also focus on:
- The formative process of improvement.
- Individualised and collective work.
- Contribution to social, global development.
Finally, one of the effects of a leader’s functions is the direct or indirect contribution to the community’s socio-cultural development. Such a broad objective is preceded by a couple of principal considerations to take into account:
- El trabajo con grupo. A través de este trabajo se trata de sensibilizar y motivar a las personas a que se organicen en equipos o grupos, ayudando a formular objetivos concretos y facilitar su integración como “agentes dinamizadores” dentro de su contexto social.
- Función dinamizadora, dentro del propio grupo, en el que se trata de dotar de recursos, dinamizar o, en último término, divertir.