K.C. Christensen is Parks and Recreation director for the town of Paris. She has already initiated a number of programs for residents and has more in mind. Submitted photo

Town recreation programs are no longer just youth baseball, softball and basketball. At least in the town of Paris.

K.C. Christensen, the town’s Parks and Recreation director, has the town buzzing with new activities and sports programs that offer something for everyone from children to seniors.

Besides the traditional sports, try line dancing, yoga, sled dog rides, karaoke, karate and hula-hoop. Christensen says she would like to add outdoor classes, music, photography and game nights. Calling herself a joyologist, she is considering a laughter club.

And, of course, there is pickleball, which attracted nearly 300 participants who, until recently, played several nights a week inside the Paris Fire Station.

Passionate about people and all things recreation, Christensen was born and raised in California. She eventually moved to Maine where she was the executive director of the former Oxford Hills YMCA in Norway. She left the area, but late last year she returned and became Paris’s Parks and Recreation director.

She proudly notes that her three sons, Cody, 31, Kye, 30, and Austin, 20, all live in Maine.


What drew you to the field of recreation? I’ve always been involved in this field. It’s been a passion of mine since I was a child, starting as a participant in many activities, on a team, being a volunteer, a coach, then employee, all the way to director leading a department or managing an organization. It was never work to me. I felt like I was getting paid to play! Recreation is a joyful, interesting field where you can make a positive difference in someone’s life. Other career benefits are having fun, learning a lot, becoming a part of the community, connecting with people of all ages, making friends and enjoying life-changing experiences.

I’ve recently started working at the town of Paris leading their growing Recreation Department. There’s so much variety, you’re giving back to the community, collaborating with others and doing what you love, all while helping people to do the same!

There’s a lot of opportunity in this field, and I have explored (a lot): outdoor recreation when I was a park ranger, wilderness leader and outdoor educator; therapeutic recreation when I worked with the blind, deaf and physically challenged (even trained dogs to help the disabled); and community recreation, working at YMCAs, recreation departments, child care centers, as a day camp director, an aquatic director, even co-founder of a community center. With a degree in recreation/nonprofit administration, I’ve led nonprofits in the recreation and community service fields for years.

I’m starting a Recreation Internship Program at the town of Paris for high school and college students who want to have hands-on experience in a great career field. I’m also starting a Volunteer Corp for interested individuals and groups. They can email me at rec@parismaine.org.

As the executive director of the Oxford Hills YMCA in Norway years ago, I had such fond memories of my time in town. When I thought about the warm, kind people here and was offered the chance to come back and be in the recreation field once again, I jumped at the chance. Working in the town of Paris Rec. Department is a dream come true.

Why is it important for a community to have a recreation department? People need to be connected. We are social beings. We thrive when we connect with others and have fun, hope, a purpose and something exciting or meaningful to look forward to. A recreation department can bring passion, laughter, learning, enrichment, entertainment, build confidence, teach new skills and bring delight to a person’s life. Having a social connection where people care about you and support you is important. Being in a positive group, supporting each other, doing things you love, working toward a common goal, having civic pride — that’s what creates a vibrant community.


I love being the Paris recreation director because we can offer programs, classes and events that allow folks to do that. We want to revitalize our community, and people are excited and engaged, calling and e-mailing me with ideas and suggestions. Being connected is so important, especially after the pandemic with isolation, mental health issues, anxiety and depression on the rise.

I’ve heard that there is an “epidemic of loneliness” in the U.S., and research showed that a lack of personal contact with others is awful for one’s health. Even before COVID, more than 50% of American adults were experiencing a great deal of loneliness and teen depression is on the rise. Recreation departments can be the solution!

Getting out of the house, breathing the fresh air and immersing in nature — Paris has beautiful parks and reserves to explore, and we all know about Maine’s stunning beauty. Being involved in sports or recreational activities gets you moving and fit. Helping a child, enjoying an experience, having fun with your family — all of these things can boost one’s spirits. Work/life balance is so important. Recreation brings families together, helps people get rid of isolation, depression and loneliness, enables people to learn, get out of their comfort zone, make new friends, collaborate and unites a community together. Coaches, volunteers, instructors touch peoples’ lives, making a positive difference. It can be life-changing.

With life’s many challenges, people need more wholesome options to boost their mental and physical health, find hope, a positive alternative to drugs, a place to go, a way to grow, to reach out, to connect. A fun, healthy, enriching, quality recreation program is the heart of the community and I hope to bring that special feeling to Paris.

What is your favorite part of being a recreation director? Everything I just shared! The joy you get when you support someone. The positive difference you can make building community, connecting with others, working together, providing activity and opportunity so people have wonderful experiences, collaborating with other organizations, seeing people get involved and inspired – it’s all so rewarding and meaningful to me!

What are some of the recreation programs that you have started in Paris? What programs would you like to add? I’ve only been here a few months, but there’s so much to do! I’ve received a warm “welcome back” in Oxford Hills and I’ve loved hearing suggestions from our Paris residents. We have people of such talent here in Oxford Hills to tap into for new instructors. I want to expand our programs in Paris based on what the community wants, to fill the void, not take away from what others are doing.


I started a popular Paris Pickleball Program with over 226 people interested, lots of weekly evening classes and waiting lists. The new line dancing classes at the Fire Station are packed and we keep adding more. We’ve offered yoga classes and trivia and karaoke nights.

We’re excited for our upcoming dog sled rides, T-ball, baseball, softball programs, hula-hoop workshops, circus arts, karate, craft classes, dog training, art and our free summer concerts.

We want to add music, photography, outdoor classes, movie night, cooking, game night, field trips, more community events like a crafts fair or farmers market, creative dramatics, more programs for seniors, teens, veterans are asking me about activities. You name it — I’m always open to ideas.

I’ve been meeting with nonprofits in the area, and we’ve been sharing what we’re all offering so we can collaborate or cross-promote and support each other.

When I operated my own coaching and consulting company, I was a professional joyologist and certified laughter leader nationwide, so I’ll probably add a “laughter club” to our Paris Rec. Department program mix also.

Why has pickleball become such a popular activity? Where are your courts located? Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. It is a combination of badminton, wiffleball, tennis and ping pong, which all ages and athletic abilities can play. It’s a fun, social, healthy activity. When we kicked off our new program, we had 226 people interested and held four nights a week with most classes full, with waiting lists. Our winter courts were at the South Paris Fire Station. We’ve paused for a bit as we look for new site with a wooden floor and more courts, plus gearing up for outdoor courts in the upcoming warmer weather.

What do you like to do in your free time? I’m still unpacking, but when I get free time, I like to spend it with family, laughing with friends, exploring Oxford Hills, being in nature, kayaking, recreational activities, enjoying comedy, music, art, design, photography, antiquing, travel, movies, volunteering, writing and more.

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