HOHENFELS, Germany -- More than 25 organizations took part in Hohenfels' inaugural Strong Team Expo, Feb. 27, showcasing hundreds of activities available to community members and encouraging participants to "Get Involved."
"Col. (John G.) Norris and I believe that increased involvement in healthy groups and healthy group activities builds relationships, communication and trust within our community," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange Jr., U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels commander. "Involved community members care for each other and look out for each other, and the resulting sense of belonging makes us healthier and stronger."
Exhibitions ranged from on post activities such as Outdoor Recreation and the Bowling Center to off-post recreational opportunities like the city of Hohenfels' Brass Band or the Schmidmuehlen Golf and Country Club.
The cities of Regensburg, Velburg, Lupburg and the county of Neumarkt all hosted booths highlighting the wealth of activities available in their respective regions, such as museums, restaurants, tennis courts and bike trails.
"We want to help people find outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy," said Vincent Beiju of the High Rope Activity Park in Velburg. The High Rope Activity Park features six different challenge levels, including one appropriate for small children.
"And now we are offering 20 percent off to U.S. Army personnel," Beiju added.
For those that like their adventure a little less physical, the Hohenfels library offers a variety of more cerebral pursuits. With "Storytime," "Princess" and "Superhero" themed parties for the youngsters, as well as the Chess Club, Book Club, and German Language Club for adults, there's something for all ages each month.
It was mental pursuits that drew Spc. Matthew Campo to the Hohenfels Education Center's exhibition.
"They had a lot of ideas and opportunities to jump-start my academic career," Campo said.
Often, individuals miss out on opportunities because they may not want to attend a function on their own. That's where BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) comes in, explained Lesley Lowe, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation BOSS advisor. With tours, cook outs, and community service, BOSS activities are designed to bring people together and get them active in a fun environment.
"Most of our events are open to everybody," said Lowe. "But our main focus is on single Soldiers and civilians, even geographical bachelors who may be separated from their families due to PCS. We provide a place for people to come together, get out, get active and see Europe."
While all the teams offered fun activities, some, like BOSS, also provided the opportunity to give back to the community. The Parent-Teacher Association gives volunteers the ability to support teachers and administrators and help create the best educational environment for Hohenfels' students.
"We do anything and everything within the school," said Gail McKinney, PTA secretary. "We help with assemblies, spelling bees, we do fundraisers. And those funds all go back into the school."
The Girl Scouts is another group that provides benefits to both parents and children, and they are seeking volunteers for troop leaders and administrative positions.
"Girl Scouts is the premiere leadership organization in the world for girls," said Elizabeth Dean, registrar for the Girl Scouts Overseas Committee Management Team. "It's really important to foster leadership skills in girls, especially in military daughters because they're traveling around, moving all the time. It's very important that they have leadership skills that they can take with them to a new duty station and on into their future lives."
"And it is very rewarding as a parent to see the impact, not just in your own kids, but in all the other kids that you're helping to develop these skills," added Eric Metz, Daisy Troop 600 leader.
Though the expo provided a wealth of information, it still had quite a festive feel with games and prizes throughout the day. Wittl's Music School of Parsberg had guitars on display where several Soldiers had impromptu jam sessions, and the post gym offered five free personal training sessions to whoever could do the most squats while balanced on a Bosu ball.
"I came over initially cause I heard AFN say if you told them you heard about this on the radio, they'd give you a prize," said Spc. RenDe Johnson. "Then I see the Red Cross is doing CPR classes and it's 20 percent off if you sign up at the expo. And I won a free bowling game!"
"It's great to have things like this for people to come out to, get out of the barracks, get out of the house, and have some fun even on a cold day," Johnson added.