Victoria Koutstaal outside on a sunny day smiling at the camera.

Finding her path with a career in recreation

July 9, 2024
Author: Eric Zimmer

Victoria Koutstaal shares her story

For Victoria Koutstaal, recreation is more than just fun and games.

“Recreation is community-based and community-building,” she says. “Socialization and our passions are a huge part of our identity as individuals. Without recreation, we have a really difficult – if not impossible – time being healthy, well-rounded human beings. It’s so vital to people’s mental health.”

Victoria, who graduated from VIU this year with a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree, was recently recognized for excelling in her program with a BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) scholarship.

Chosen from post-secondary parks and recreation programs around the province, winners receive a $2,000 scholarship, a one-year complimentary membership after they graduate and free registration to attend the annual BCRPA Symposium.

“I was shocked,” says Victoria about receiving the award. “I wasn’t expecting to receive it as there are so few recipients of the award and I knew there were a lot of other worthy candidates. I am very honoured and proud to be able to represent my university and program.”

It’s the latest stepping stone in a recreation-focused career that began when Victoria was just 15 and started working as a lifeguard with City of Dawson Creek, where she went to high school.

“I worked for Dawson Creek for about six years before moving to the Island and getting a job as a lifeguard with the City of Nanaimo for a couple of years and then with the Town of Ladysmith” she says.

Wanting to “move up a bit” in her career, Victoria decided VIU was her next step and she started her post-secondary path with the Recreation and Sports Management diploma then continuing on to the degree.

Her favourite memory from her time in the program is being part of a field school trip to New Zealand last December.

“We studied risk management in tourism and recreation, as well as the Indigenous culture there, and how it is taken into account in their tourism and recreation practices,” she says. “Overall, it was an incredible experience.”

With her degree complete, Victoria is now working for the Nanaimo White Rapids as the manager of the outdoor pool in Bowen Park.

Looking ahead at her potential next steps, she’s “just kind of seeing where things go” at this point.

“I’ve really focused heavily on the recreation side of things – even though my degree is in tourism – so I’ll probably stay in that realm,” she adds. “People create memories with recreation and a core part of who we are as people comes from what we do for recreation, so for me that part is really special and unique. There’s not a lot of jobs out there where you can have a similar type of impact on people and I really like that.”

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