CAMP ZAMA, Japan (April 30, 2021) – Camp Zama’s Outdoor Recreation facility has moved into an impressive new space in the Community Recreation Center, and it opens May 1 at 8 a.m.
Rick Bosch, director of Camp Zama’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, gathered employees who worked on the project to thank them April 29, and described the new facility as a “one-stop shop” for outdoor recreation equipment, vehicle rentals, adventure tours and much more.
Col. Thomas Matelski, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, and USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Turner toured the new facility during the event and thanked FMWR employees for their hard work.
In particular, Matelski said he was glad customers can now see merchandise on the floor before they rent it.
“The customers will be able to see the quality of the goods that they’re getting and the services available,” Matelski said. “Great teamwork … It’s really good to see, and I’m glad that you could be a part of it.”
Likewise, Turner, who also serves as the senior enlisted adviser for Camp Zama’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, told employees the renovation was one of the best projects he has ever seen, and he believes the improved facility will help single Soldiers enjoy Japan.
“This right here is what will get our single Soldiers out and about doing things and meeting other people, and it’s all because of you,” Turner said. “Thank you for your job well done, and keep up the good work.”
The facility includes a large red torii gate that frames the front door, a Japanese-style bridge over a simulated koi pond, a mannequin paddling a canoe, several large photos of outdoor scenes in Japan, simulated greenery on the walls, and other touches. Nature sounds, such as birds chirping, play in the background.
In addition to Outdoor Recreation, Bosch said several FMWR teams came together to create the facility, such as maintenance, auto skills and information technology.
“This, to me, is how you as a team just created a legacy,” Bosch said. “This is something that’s going to give back to the Soldiers and the families of Camp Zama for many, many [permanent change of station] rotations to come. You guys created something that is permanent. You guys set the bar very high. You guys literally transformed an environment.”
One employee in particular who contributed to the facility’s new look is Kenji Osada, a member of the FMWR maintenance team, Bosch said.
Osada improvised to build the torii gate at the front door, and used the design of the Japanese-style bridge at Camp Zama’s Dewey Park to make a smaller version for the facility, Bosch said. He also took an old canoe, cut it in half, and made it into a fishing display.
“Just genius, genius, genius!” Bosch said, praising Osada’s work.
Osada has worked for FMWR for 30 years, and said he enjoys building and being creative. He also built the tiki items at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Pool.
“It’s always challenging, and I like to see the people’s reactions. You know, ‘Wow!’” Osada said.
Seeing those appreciative reactions keeps him working at his job, Osada said.
In addition, Bosch said FMWR employees saved about $10,000 by taking existing shelf units to the Camp Zama Auto Skills Center for new paint.
“[The shelves] look brand new,” Bosch said. “They literally look like we just took them out of the box and put them together, and I know it was not easy work.”
Meanwhile, Hiro Huertas, Outdoor Recreation manager, said “Wow” is the one word he would use to describe the new facility.
“It’s 180 degrees the other way [from our former facility],” Huertas said. “We completely have a new look for Outdoor Recreation here at Camp Zama, and we hope it will be the new standard for facilities around Zama.”
Outdoor Recreation provides vehicle rental, equipment rental, trips and activities, park and picnic areas, playgrounds, green-space play areas, barbecue pavilions, a fishing pond, and an adventure pro shop, according to its website.
The organization also provides services that include vehicle rentals, equipment rental service, adventure-planning assistance and maps and train directions, according to the website.
For more information, visit https://zama.armymwr.com/programs/outdoor-recreation or call DSN 315-263-5170 or COMM 046-407-5170.
The facility is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.