FORT SILL, Okla. - Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area has 10 new cabins available to reserve beginning at the end of March. The cabins will be used by units one weekend a month for off-site retreats to enhance family wellness.

The rustic, wood cabins are available in three different sizes: four small cabins, which accommodate up to four people; three medium cabins which accommodate up to six people; and three large cabins which accommodate seven people.

The prices for the cabins depend on whether it is the offseason (October through April) or peak season (May through September). Prices are $45 per day for the small cabins in the off season and $55 in peak season; $55 and $65 for the medium cabins; and $65 and $75 for the large cabins.

The cabins are available for reservations to anybody but there is an additional $10 cost for civilians. The cabins come with all the amenities including all furnishings; heat and air; a TV and DVD player; fully-stocked kitchens with dishes and silverware; and linens and towels are provided.
Reservations should be made two months in advance. The cabins are on the west side of LETRA. For reservations or questions call the Country Store, Wednesday through Sunday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 442-5854.

"All 10 cabins will be set aside for unit functions the second weekend of every month," said Lara Rigby, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation outdoor recreation program manager. "We're providing these cabins as quality of life. We have lots of people pitching tents in summer, and the cabins provide another option for campers."

According to Brenda Spencer-Ragland, FMWR director, there is a trend for units to hold off-site family retreats, which can cost young military families who have to pay for a hotel to attend those events.

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

Spencer-Ragland said in addition to the new cabins at LETRA, there will soon be a boundless playground at the lake for Exceptional Family Members and there is new equipment including bicycles to check out and the miniature golf course at the lake is being renovated.

"All this is to ensure we are providing a local place where our families have immediate access and can go to relax and celebrate the beauty of Southwest Oklahoma and Fort Sill.

"I have always believed that LETRA is a diamond in the rough. It's a gorgeous place for a young family to go spend some time fishing and boating without worrying about the cost. It's an awesome gift for our families and if it makes a difference in the life of one family once a month then it has met its purpose," she said.

Spencer-Ragland said the cabins will be made available to the brigades. "We work with the different brigades to give them access to one weekend a month and if the unit doesn't use the 10 cabins we'll make them available to other units that may need them."

FMWR offers the cabins to the units the second weekend of every month free and dedicated to family wellness by giving them the opportunity to build life skills.

"You can do a tremendous job of building relationships sitting on the bank of a creek or lake fishing. Some of the best lessons I learned in life were sitting on the bank listening to my father tell me about his values. If we can give that gift to our families, I think we should," she said. "In addition to offering the cabins, we offer programs like 'Seven Habits for the Highly Effective Military Families,' and 'Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills' training to complement it. So if the units want to use all 10 cabins and they want to throw in some Seven Habits or PAIRS, we can schedule that and make it available to them too."

Spencer-Ragland said the families will receive the benefit of using the cabins, enjoying the beautiful scenery and get life skills training. "It's all part of family wellness and building family resiliency. We're being all we can be for our families and giving them the opportunity to be all they can be."