USAG-HI recreation programs recognized as best in Army
November 3, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) already has the most geographically diverse recreation program in the Army, ranging from Helemano Military Reservation in the north to Fort Shafter in the south, and now it has the best.
Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's (FMWR) Community Recreation Division (CRD) emerged as armed forces and national recreation leaders during the weeklong National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) conference in Salt Lake City, Oct. 12-16, receiving an unprecedented number of awards and honors for its programs.
<b>Outstanding Army Recreation Program</b>
Among the awards, the USAG-HI CRD was recognized as the 2009 Outstanding Recreation Program for a large installation shining a new light on a program already gaining momentum.
"We felt we were pretty good, but having this type of recognition from the outside validates it," said Ron Locklar, director, CRD.
And if awards weren't enough validation, the USAG-HI CRD program also received the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), officially joining a select group that includes only four other military installations with that elite designation worldwide and the first for any branch of service in Hawaii.
"To our knowledge we are the first-ever applicant to satisfy all 146 standards during the accreditation site visit," said Locklar.
"We have thirty front door facilities operated by a staff of 250," added Locklar, who supervises the area of recreation.
"Hawaii is a treasure of recreational opportunities - it's limitless," he added.
During the last three years, the community has witnessed an explosion of new special events and festivals, ranging from the quirky Dog Days of Summer, to cultural events like lei making and hula dancing. Customers have also seen a surge in new unique programs to include, outdoor recreation activities such as stand-up paddleboarding, Hawaiian net fishing, and out-of-the-box mindfulness activities such as Tai Chi and Feng Shui.
Creative program initiatives, along with significant facility upgrades, were highlighted during the award application process.
<b>Outstanding Army Recreation Center</b>
In addition to the CRD program recognition, the Tropics Recreation Center at Schofield Barracks was recognized as the 2009 Outstanding Army Recreation Center for a large installation.
In an effort to better tailor activities for the community, FMWR staff developed new programming utilizing recent worldwide focus group research.
By offering more free video and interactive games and special events, such as Family Fun Fridays, Tropics Triathlon, Rock Band Rumble, monthly beach volleyball tournaments and Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) events, the facility emerged as a template for a Soldier-preferred "Warrior Zone" entertainment center.
"The transformation of the Tropics is a real cornerstone of what we wanted to accomplish with our recreation program," said Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, USAG-HI, "... a facility that reflects the preferences of young Soldiers and family members."
The emergence of new recreation programs also increased Soldier participation installationwide, contributing to an additional 15 individual FMWR Command Festival of the Performing Arts Awards, including first place to the BOSS Variety Program.
<b>Armed Forces Recreation Society Recognition</b>
During the weeklong activities in Salt Lake City, the worldwide Armed Forces Recreation Society made up of professionals from all branches of service, also recognized USAG-HI recreation programs with five awards, including the Commander's Award to Margotta.
"Colonel Margotta has been an unwavering champion for CRD initiatives and someone we can always count on for support," said Gordon Takeshita, director, FMWR.
"He has been (such) an advocate for our programs and our vision," Takeshita added, citing Margotta's support in overcoming fitness center funding and location obstacles during the past year.
Through garrison team efforts, the Outdoor Recreation Program (ODR) has been transformed with new equipment, activities and classes. Conor Joyce, program manager, ODR, and Matt Enoch, program manager, Tropics Recreation Center, each received awards as OutstandingAca,!E+YoungAca,!E+Recreation Professionals.
The FMWR marketing department's Tim Pugh and Kelly Andrews were also cited for exemplary support of CRD.
Locklar said the team plans to stay at the top of their game, even with programs now sporting the title "Best in Army" and the CAPRA accreditation.
"(The recognition) doesn't change our focus, which is serving Soldiers and family members, but it does mean we are one of the most fundamentally sound programs in the Army," he added.