(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Okla. (May 30, 2013) -- The lakeside amenities at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area opened for the season May 24 for Memorial Day Weekend.

Water activities are open, and admission to the park is free. LETRA offers a remodeled miniature golf course, walking and biking paths around the lake, six playgrounds and an archery range with 3-D targets.

"If you want to get in the great outdoors, this is a great place to go," said Brenda Spencer-Ragland, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.

Spencer-Ragland went out to walk through the area before the season opening and said it was her best walkthrough ever.

"The staff is on board and truly the park is in the best shape it has been in years," she said. "The water is up, and the boats are maintained and ready. This will be a great year for our Soldiers and families."

The archery range features an elevated shooting platform and new stationary targets have been ordered to replace the bales of hay.

"It is another way families can enjoy the outdoors and exercise together," said Mark Houseman, LETRA manager. "It will also be useful for local schools teaching shooting sports and clubs who want to try archery. Bows are available for rent out of the Country Store. Price ranges from $4-$20. We also have 3-D targets."

The price for watercraft rental ranges from $8 to $50 an hour. "We also have four bass boats and a pontoon boat available to rent," said Houseman. "These are on a first-come, first-served basis. To rent these items, stop in at the Country Store."

The waterslide, beach with lifeguards, watercraft rentals and mini-golf, are open Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"The Country Store is available so our patrons won't have to leave the campground," said Houseman. "We are fully stocked and offer a wide variety of items." For more information call 580-442-5854.

The 10 rustic wood cabins on the west side of the park are available in three different sizes: there are four small cabins, which accommodate up to four people; three medium cabins which hold up to six people; and three large cabins for seven people. Reservations can be made up to two months in advance by logging on to http://adv-travel.com/cabin-rentals.

The prices for the cabins are $60 to $80 per night with an additional $10 cost for civilians. The cabins come fully furnished with all the amenities including heat and air; TV and DVD player; fully-stocked kitchens and linens and towels.

"All 10 cabins will be set aside for unit functions the second weekend of every month," said Houseman. "We're providing these cabins as a quality of life enhancement. We have lots of people pitching tents in summer and the cabins provide another option for campers."

Spencer-Ragland said there is a trend for units to go to off-site family retreats.

"Our goal is to keep the promise of the Army Family Covenant by providing other options to build family wellness and resiliency that won't put our units over their budget," she said. "If there are units that want to take advantage of the free cabins for an off-site retreat, we don't want them to be burdened with a cost. We are offering them a quality place their families can go for respite and for family wellness right here at Fort Sill."

Patrons renting a cabin or staying at the RV Park also have Internet and satellite TV access.

"We already had five refurbished playgrounds on-site and a [modern] playground near a group-use site and RV park," said Houseman.

The RV Park has 45 pull-through spaces available featuring both 30- and 50-amp service and onsite waste disposal and fresh water. It also features coin-operated laundry and shower facilities. In the event of a tornado or other severe weather, the restrooms and lodge basement serve as storm shelters.

All price lists and additional information can be found at www.sillmwr.com or by calling 580-442-5858.

LETRA also features a lakeside lodge with a view of Mount Scott from the windows and deck. It is available for reservation in four- and eight-hour blocks. No outside catering can be brought in, but the Patriot Club or the Impact Zone offers on-site catering or customers can prepare food and bring it to the lodge.

"Many people reserve the lodge for weddings and receptions because of the picturesque photo opportunities and serene setting," said Houseman.

One of the scheduled events for LETRA this summer is the Co-Op military appreciation family fun day on July 13. The event is open to all military and their families and Co-Op partners.