Nathan and Nikki Lamaster, Founders of SMART CEUs Hub- Recreational Therapy Approved CEUs


With a background working in Activities, I am always a bit (a lot!) partial to stories, people, and businesses that support and expand the scope of the Recreation Department.   A Recreational Therapist has a unique opportunity to get to know older adults living in a skilled nursing center not only by their diagnosis but also by their hobbies and life stories.

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association defines Recreational Therapy as a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery, and well-being. However, close ties to Bingo and ball bouncing often limit the perception of the job description.

Just like those in the medical profession, a Recreational Therapist is trained and certified to provide care and are also required to maintain Continuing Education Units or CEU’s to retain their certification.  Busy schedules, limited budgets, and even a lack of awareness of the profession often create barriers for professionals to obtain the necessary number of CEU’s, which can be both frustrating and detrimental to their career.  In steps, SMART CEUs Hub.

Nathan and Nikki Lamaster started SMART  CEUs Hub because they saw a need for accessible educational resources for recreational therapist all over the country. I learned about SMART Hub through their active social media presence on Instagram and after speaking with founder Nathan Lamaster quickly realized that this married duo have the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit that is just what the aging services needs!

With a profound respect and understanding for the needs of older adults and the desire to help others, this dynamic pair is expanding their reach in the aging services and helping Recreational Therapist all over the country stay current and productive within their profession. I had the chance to ask Nathan and Nikki about how they got started in the field and why they believe the work is so important.

SMART CEUs Hub Explainer Video

How did you get your start in the aging services?

Well, this is funny actually. My aunt Karen works as the Director Of Social Services at a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) in California, and when I was a young kid, I got the chance to sing and entertain the residents. I even got the opportunity to dress up as Santa Clause one year and help bring the Christmas spirit to the people living there. As for jobs in the field, I got my first job in aging services at the age of 16 working as a server for a 5 star Assisted Living Facility (ALF). Then when I graduated College with my undergraduate degree, I worked as the Director Of Activities for a few SNFs in California and now part of my job in Texas is working on specifically the behavioral health portion of geriatrics.

Why do you think recreation is so important for our elders?

I believe what we do helps give purpose to our lives whether that be entertainment, hobbies, volunteering, our faith, or anything that gains our focus. One of the biggest issues I have seen affecting the senior population is feeling like their best days are behind them and that they have a hard time seeing their purpose. As a Recreational Therapist, we get to help people in all areas of their lives including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. I believe God has given me this mission field to work in.

Where did the idea for SMART Hub come from?

SMART CEUs Hub came from seeing a need in the Recreational Therapy field for quality, affordable, online, educational presence specifically designed for Recreational Therapists, as well as giving job opportunities to Recreational Therapists through our SMART Instructor Program.

How does your business enhance the field of aging?

Our SMART Instructors are all considered experts in their specific areas of Recreational Therapy. The knowledge that they bring to the table helps other Recreational Therapists to be the best at serving their clients like a ripple effect.

Are you interested in becoming a SMART Instructor?  You can sign up here for more information.

How do you for see SMART Hub expanding in the future?  

SMART CEUs Hub has some big plans scheduled to be happening in October this year which is our 2 year anniversary of being in business. Our goals are to reach as many Recreational Therapists throughout the country as possible to help spread the knowledge of best practices in Recreational Therapy and gain more online exposure for our field. Who knows? Maybe traveling conferences are in the future for us!

For more on SMART CEU Hub check out:


Founder Bio: Nathan and his wife Nikki relocated from California to Tyler, Texas in 2013 right after they were married for his wife’s Christian radio career. While living in Texas Nathan found that very little people knew what Recreational Therapy was as compared to in California. A lack of awareness of the profession meant that positions were limited. As many Recreational Therapist across the country were in the same situation, Nathan began to think of ways to help his profession gain more exposure through a greater online presence. This was when he decided to create a quality, affordable, online, educational presence specifically designed for Recreational Therapists and taught by Recreational Therapy Experts (known as SMART Instructors) throughout the country. Thus in 2015 SMART CEUs Hub was born and continues to grow its influence.


Let’s Celebrate Our Timeless Family Traditions. They Matter!

First Posted by Sixty and me
The kitchen is often known as the heart of the home, and it has always been my favorite place during the holiday season. The hustle and bustle start shortly after Halloween as the grocery lists get started, and the famous family recipes emerge from their recipe boxes.


From Generation to Generation

These recipes are handed down from our mothers’ grandmother to her mother, to her, and now to the new generation of women starting a home and new traditions of their own. Just like the women before her nervously attempting the recipe for the first time.

Cooking becomes a catalyst for something even greater than the meal itself. It is a chance for women to come together to share stories, embrace experiences, and to impart the wisdom to others that only age will allow you to gain.

As we gear up for this holiday season, let’s remember the women who came before us – those who started our beloved customs.

Grandma’s Apron

“The Apron” is a powerful symbol that for many women evoke memories of the time and women who came before them. In the poem “Grandma’s Apron” Tina Trivett tells us how the use and meaning of an apron far exceed its purpose as a clothing protector:

The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.

For Grandma, it was every day to choose one when she dressed.

The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;

The things she used it for, that made it look worn out.

She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she’d found.

Or to hide a crying child’s face when a stranger came around.

Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.

Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.

She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.

To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.

When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.

You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.

She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.

Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.

When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.

I’m sure the apron that she chose was her Sunday best.

Stories as Gifts to Each Other

This seemingly ordinary item can hold a very special place in our hearts. Sharing the stories of the women in our lives who wore them is an excellent way to both honor them and to keep their memory alive.

Our mother’s apron, or even a new apron, is a wonderful sentimental gift to give during the holidays. And it will surely be put to good use once all of the family recipes are shared.

Family Recipes

Almost every family has a famous recipe that has been handed down through the generations. Whether neatly displayed in a cookbook, placed on cards in the recipe box, or collected as handwritten notes on scraps of paper mixed with magazine clippings in a shoe box, those sought-after recipes are a window to the past.

My favorite bits are always the handwritten alterations that turn an ordinary dish into a staple at the holiday table. And, as the extended family comes into town, the holidays are a perfect reason to get out those family favorites.

My Great Grandmother’s Raisin Pie recipe is a family favorite, and with special permission from my Grandmom I’d like to share it with all of you:

Granny’s Raisin Pie

1 cup raisins

2 cups water

¾ cup sugar

4 tablespoons flour

1 beaten egg

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon salt

pre-prepared pastry (pan and to cover)

First, wash raisins and place in a bowl covered with the water. Let soak 1 to 3 hours.

Mix sugar, egg and flour, stirring in lemon juice and salt and mix well.

Bring raisins and their soaking liquid to a boil for 5 minutes and add to mixture.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour filling into a pastry lined pan. Cover with top crust, seal edges and cut slits in the top.

Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

I remember as a child mimicking the process of measuring and mixing and how excited I was when offered the chance to stir the batter. Even still today, stirring is my favorite part!

‘Tis the Season for Holiday Traditions

These time old traditions offer a unique chance to make new memories while we cherish the old. So as the smells of gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce fill the room, and the sounds of Miracle on 34th Street play in the background, let’s take a moment to reflect on all of the special family customs we’ve maintained after all of these years. Let’s be thankful that we can share them with the newest members of the family.

4 meaningful ways to spend time with a loved one living with Dementia

Spending time with a parent or loved one living with dementia can be a worrying experience.  “What should I say?” “What can I do?” or “What if they don’t know who I am?” are all completely normal questions you may ask yourself. Not to mention, if you weren’t that close prior to their diagnosis the task of getting to know them now may feel overwhelming. Fortunately, with a little preparation and patience, you will find there are many ways to engage and even have fun with your loved ones.

Below are just a few ideas to get you started!

  1. Music will almost always awaken the soul.

Create a special playlist with all of your loved one’s favorite songs and listen to them together. If you don’t know all of their favorite songs here are a few Patriotic songs and other popular sing-along songs they might enjoy:
Alexander’s Ragtime Band
• America
• America the Beautiful
Bicycle Built for Two
• For Me and My Gal
• Give My Regards to Broadway
Hail! Hail! The Gang’s All Here
• Home on the Range
• I Love You Truly

And don’t be shy, it is okay to tap your toes and sing along. They may be sitting in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t always mean they can’t tap their toes and swing those arms like the best of them!

Watch as Henry’s caregivers reawaken his soul with some of his favorite songs (An excerpt from the documentary – Alive Inside):

  1. Go outside – Don’t forget to bring the snacks and something to read!

Whether your loved one is living at home or at a nursing facility the chances for them to spend time outside are often limited.  Take this opportunity to get some fresh air and Vitamin D.

It might be nice to just sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet, but bringing a long a pack of snacks and water makes the whole trip feel more like a picnic.  And if the quiet gets to be too much bringing along reading material and reading aloud to your loved one provides a meaningful and engaging experience for you both!  I always like to bring short stories from Chicken soup for the soul or articles from whatever magazine or newspaper I have on hand.

Safety and Comfort first: If it is sunny bring a hat and sunblock to protect them from the sun…and don’t forget their sweater! That cool breeze might feel heavenly to us, but it could make your loved one feel extremely cold and uncomfortable.

3. ZZZ… It is okay if they fall asleep!

It is important to note that it is okay if your loved one doses off while you are with them. This doesn’t  mean you are boring them or that they want you to leave. There are a number of reasons why they may be feeling sleepy…Whatever the case try not to take it personally! Your presence is making them feel less alone and more secure even if they aren’t able to express it. Stay there and hold their hand while they nap or make them a card while you wait for them to wake back up.

4. Take notes and Keep track!

It might be helpful to take a notebook with you every time you visit your loved one. The entries can be as brief or as detailed as you would like. But, a good starting point for your entries is the date, the time, the activity, and a note of your loved one’s mood (i.e., mom was smiling as we listened to her favorite songs or mom dozed off as we read from the paper).

At first, this might seem a bit much but after a month or so you should begin to see patterns in your loved one’s routine.  For instance, when tracking, you may find that during your afternoon visits mom is always sleeping or is hard to engage in conversation, but when you visit in the mornings she is wide awake and smiling. Once you’ve noticed the pattern you may decide that mornings are a better time to visit. And the same goes with identifying what activities they would prefer to do…are they always awake and smiling while listening to music?  Then finding ways to incorporate music in your visits will help them feel more engaged!

As adults, we are always being told to live in the moment. And when we are with our parent or loved one who has dementia this sentiment couldn’t be truer.  As caregivers, you are often the unsung hero’s for our aging population and will spend most of your time focusing on the medical care your loved one receives.  But you also deserve to be able to spend time with your loved one and to get to know them during this new phase of their lives.


Age In America

Chronicling lives, challenging stereotypes, and changing perceptions -- one story at a time.

Let's Talk about Dementia

Never in the history of mankind did not talking about something scary make it disappear.

Grandma Williams

Exploring the modern world at 80+

Dementia Journey

by Deborah Shouse


Authors collaborating to provide resources for those living with dementia and their caregivers.

%d bloggers like this: