With the emphasis outdoor recreation has on Patti Freeman’s academic life, it’s not surprising the four activities she enjoys the most in her free time are downhill skiing, backpacking, river rafting and horseback riding with her husband and children.
The Freemans adopted two twins from Ghana when they were 20 months old. The twins are now 11, and the Freemans adopted their biological brothers, ages four and seven, three months ago. The Freemans made two trips to Ghana during the process of adopting both sets of brothers. However, Freeman said the experience between adopting the twins and the older children contrasted significantly.
“Adopting older children was definitely different from adopting toddlers,” Freeman said. “There is a much more obvious process of getting used to each other.”
Their experience with the addition of the younger two brothers is similar to the experience of living with a blended family, because the youngest two children have had many experiences Freeman, her husband and other two sons haven’t had any part of. There is also a language barrier for the family as the younger boys didn’t speak any English prior to their adoption.
However, Freeman said she feels her family has been incredibly fortunate and blessed to be accepting and be able to adapt to moving forward as a family unit.
Freeman said she is looking forward to introducing the things she values to all of her children.
“It’s a really neat feeling to see your children begin to do and learn the things you enjoy, and find out what also interests them,” Freeman said.
Freeman caught her passion for recreation as an undergraduate student at BYU while minoring in recreation management. After serving a mission in New Mexico, she realized she had a talent for working and talking with people, and her love of sports and outdoor activities led her to a desire to provide experiences for others to have positive experiences similar to her own.
Upon returning to BYU, she switched her major from math to recreation management and her minor from recreation management to math. After some encouragement from a RMYL professor, she decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Recreation Management from Indiana University.
Freeman began teaching at BYU in 1999 after teaching recreation at both Murray State University in Kentucky and the University of Utah.
According to Freeman, the RMYL major at BYU has changed significantly since the switch to the Marriott School of Management in 2009. This changes was made in order to take on a more managerial and global focus and prepare students for the ability to provide management for the positive experiences people seek out, regardless of whether the venues are private or public.
Freeman said she thinks the study of Recreation Management is exciting because “it’s our obligation to provide high quality experiences and well manage facilities and venues.”
She said she agrees with Brigham Young’s statement, “Life is best enjoyed when time periods are evenly divided between labor, sleep and recreation.”
“This isn’t reality, but it’s a nice way to portray the impact that recreation has on our lives in a positive way,” Freeman said. “Recreation ought to re-create, it ought to rejuvenate, it ought to be good and positive. We waste a lot of time, but recreation has the potential to have a huge impact.”
Freeman’s typical duties as an RMYL department chair consist of researching, working on class schedules, meeting with students, responding to tasks and working on course scheduling. Currently, she is working on the changing curriculum for the coming Fall Semester.
Along with these duties, Freeman has the opportunity to teach a backpacking class and winter camping class every Fall and Winter Semester at BYU. Teaching these classes on the side allows Freeman to use her background in outdoor recreation, as well as the leadership management and organizational skills she teaches in the classroom in a practical setting.
“Those are just the icing on the cake, it reminds me why I went into this profession,” Freeman said. “I feel like it’s my lab almost. It’s a reminder of the leadership principles I teach.”
Freeman’s devotional address will take place on Tuesday at 11:05 in the de Jong Concert Hall.