In this Year of the Air Force Family, Cordell Ferry, Outdoor Recreation director, says, "Outdoor Recreation activities have always been about the family."
The program, recently nominated at the Air Force level for honors after recognition at the command level, is one of the most used service activities leading even golf courses worldwide at last report from Air Force leadership, Ferry said.
"We can give families and individuals the opportunities to have super experiences," said Chris Breck, Outdoor Recreation Adventure leader.
The two say that the services available through Outdoor Recreation are available at prices far superior to many private enterprises, and that many at Hill Air Force Base don't understand what kinds of service can be expected.
"I think we have one of the best ski shops of any kind, anywhere," said Ferry. "Equipment quality, level of service, and the latest in equipment," available here are hard to beat, he added.
Among the types of trips available are excursions to a Yellowstone dude ranch, snowmobile trips, cross country skiing, Carter Creek recreational cabin rentals, white water rafting, a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park or backpacking down to Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon National Park. Even a pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota are among the varied opportunities for those adventure-bound.
"I've had people come up to me after the white water rafting trips, telling me they didn't expect that kind of (quality of) food," Ferry said.
"It definitely isn't anything like MREs," he said of the efforts his staff and volunteers put into the fare.
"We really want to let our single Airmen and others know they can invite family members visiting to come along on these trips," Breck said.
"Hey, the time they see a bison or a grizzly bear at Yellowstone," might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they'll always remember, he said.
Breck explained that the staff members are more than ready to help novices learn how to pitch a tent, use a butane stove or learn the ins and outs of outdoor recreational equipment if all they want to do is rent something and then go out on a trip of their own.
"We make it possible for anyone to come out and have fun," Breck said.
"It can be a great stress reliever," they both agreed.
They two recalled families using Outdoor Recreation services both before and after deployments and how gratifying it was to see the interactions as family members got the chance to be together and interact away from everything else having fun.
Ferry gave a brief breakdown of the department after he mentioned just how much he appreciates everyone in leadership and his own staff and volunteers.
Outdoor Recreation supervises at least 13 different areas of interest, the first three of which are membership-driven
1) Archery Range
2) Rod and Gun Club
3) Riding Stable
4) Garden plots
5) RV storage lots
6) Log Cabin, open for weddings, special gatherings and other events by special request or rental
7) Centennial Park, which will also have a water feature opening Memorial Day
8) Skate Park
9) Family Camp (for use by military or retired military to park their RVs when they visit Hill AFB)
10) Cabins at Carter Creek -- recreational log cabins at a site near Mirror Lake in the northern Uinta mountain range (which can be rented for hunting and snowmobiling trips and summer and spring recreation)
11) Fledgling paintball recreation fields, a woods ball course, an inflatable course and one in the planning stages
12) Ski shop
13) The Adventure Program which includes (among others) snow sports, hiking, ATV, backpacking, trips to Havasupai Falls, pheasant hunting, white water rafting, Jackson Hole trips, Youth Center trips and visits to Parade Rest Ranch near Yellowstone Park
14) Retail sales (winter sports only)
15) Office Administration
"You can't buy better skis than you can rent from our ski shop," said Ferry.
Once the season is over they sell the demo skis they get from the equipment suppliers.
"All of our events are set up to add cohesiveness to the family," he added.
"It's always great to get away (as a family)," Breck said. And the adventure trips are usually family oriented. "We do have a ladies' ATV trip which gives them a chance to learn their skills away from their spouses -- no one watching to see if they are doing things a certain way," he said.
But all in all, both point out that any of the recreational opportunities through Outdoor Recreation are important to Airmen and their families, Department of Defense members or civilians with access to the base.
All military can get TDY leave to use Outdoor Recreation facilities as long as they are approved by their chain of command. "They don't have to use normal leave time as long as they can get permission from their superiors," Breck pointed out.
He has had many different levels of military rank work as volunteers in his department as guides and for other activities throughout the department.
"It's considered a core activity," he said.
From a leaders' perspective, Ferry added, that when the military members come back from their experiences they are fresh and ready to give back to their duty station.
"It's a great break from working hard," Breck said.
Both Ferry and Breck add that skills are enhanced as participants enjoy the activities, especially for the volunteers as they gain wilderness training and CPR skills.
"Safety is a really big thing out there," Breck said.
And they both add, if a group of interested participants wants Outdoor Recreation to organize a trip for them, it's always a possibility. Just contact them at (801) 777-9666.