This research work assessed the level of participation in outdoor recreation in Yenagoa town, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. The study covered ten wards in which the town is organised, using one ward each for investigations into the availability of outdoor recreation facilities, access to them and the general pattern of recreation practices among the residents of the town. The ten communities were selected on the basis of the level of concentration and size of the population, with the highest being taken for the purpose of sampling. A sample size of 0.87% of the total population (42,463) was used based on sample size determining criteria by Krejcie and Morgan (1970) and 368 (0.87%) questionnaires were administered to household heads in the 10 sampled communities. Relevant data were obtained on the subject, with the result revealing that recreation facilities are abundantly provided in the town and most residents were aware of their existence. However, with the exemption of football facilities, most residents would not patronize the facilities provided, although no apparent barriers to access for the facilities are in place and people are free to use them. It is subsequently shown from the data that a number of factors play important roles in limiting the level of participation including ignorance of the benefit of recreation, income level of the respondents and distance from the facilities. The result is a low level of participation with only 18% of respondents indicating regular participation. Addressing these hindrances, proposals were made to encourage more participation across the population spectrum in active recreation participation in the town. It is envisaged that this will also serve as an example for other towns in the country.

1.0  Background of the Study

Recreation  is  as  old  as  man  and  everybody needs  it.  This  is  due  to  its  vast  and fundamental importance. It plays an important role in physical, economic and socio-cultural development of mankind (Okoli 2001). It is for this reason that Obateru (2003) expresses the need for Nigerians to participate in recreation activities in order to improve their health, facilitate their economic output and also to make worthy use of leisure time. Recreation activities according to Atemie (1997) is an important ingredient for long life. It is for this reason that Straus (1998), a medical educator emphasized that recreation is as important as eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. It has the ability in helping to deal with stress in life, by changing the focus of attention from those stressful situations.Today’s young participants in outdoor recreation activities are tomorrow’s adult outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists, but sadly fewer and fewer youth are leaving outdoors each year to indoor recreation activities. In Nigeria however, it has been observed that the culture of participating in recreation activities consciously is relatively low. This may not be unconnected with the economic circumstance prevalent in the country. Results of recent researches into the recreation activities of Nigerians in different walks of life (Makasi, 1985) Imazobi, (1988) seem to indicate that certain unexpected factors prevent most Nigerians from engaging in recreation activities. While Nigeria is blessed with several abundant recreation activities such as swimming, football, lawn tennis, boating, picnicking, basketball, polo playing, TV viewing and several other activities which could be participated in by Nigerians.