FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Fort Carson's recreation program has been recognized as one of the best in the country with its selection as a finalist for a national award.

The post's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation is one of four finalists in the Armed Forces Recreation bracket for the 2014 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

"It's a pretty prestigious (award)," said Mike O'Donnell, DFMWR director. "This is a huge accomplishment for the team. We've got a great staff. They run great programs."

Fort Carson's recreation program will compete against three other military installations -- Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Calif.; Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.; and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga.

"We're the only Army installation that's being selected to go forward," he said. "It would be a huge seal of approval at the highest level from the national perspective for an Army installation to get recognized, so we're very excited."

The Armed Forces Recreation bracket is open to any installation, O'Donnell said.

"There is a specific category for (military), but the criteria that they look at as they review it is the same as what they would look at in the other categories, except that we're only competing with other (DOD) agencies," he said.

The award, given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, recognizes programs that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition, according to the press release.

The finalist will be announced at the 2014 NRPA Congress in Charlotte, N.C., in October.

Fort Carson's programs that are recognized include Outdoor Recreation, youth sports and programming, fitness centers and related programming, bowling, golf, the shooting complex, the library and any other recreation-related activities.

"It's a tremendous sense of pride for the staff that are in those programs," O'Donnell said.

In addition to the prestige of being selected as a finalist, Fort Carson is already an installation certified by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies.

"We're a CAPRA-certified installation, and there are only four of those in the DOD," he said. "That's the highest level of certification you can have … that already sets us to a standard where we're certified in parks and recreation at that highest level by the programming that we do, by the variety, the diversity, all of the same criteria that they look at for this gold award."

While O'Donnell said he hopes Fort Carson wins the award, the certification already recognizes the quality of the installation's recreation programs.

"I think (certification) already sets the bar for our recreation programs at Fort Carson (as) one of, if not the best in the Army. So, we're proud of that regardless, but this would be kind of the icing on the cake," he said.

Page last updated Thu June 5th, 2014 at 00:00