By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
As Col. Bruce Jenkins, the Fort Knox garrison commander, has said on numerous occasions, Fort Knox continues to win accolades and he’s not sure how it’s done given the installation’s dwindling resources and manpower shortages.
But another award is destined for the Fort Knox trophy case; the Installation Management Command announced that after winning IMCOM’s award as best among large installations in the Atlantic Region, Fort Knox went on to win the Garrison Recreation Award at the Department of the Army level.
Further, Matt Enoch, the Fort Knox community program coordinator, was tapped as the recreation employee of the year in IMCOM’s Atlantic Region.
Although Fort Knox also won a recreation award in 2012 from the National Parks and Recreation Association, Mark Wicker, chief of the community recreation division of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said that the IMCOM and DA awards were totally different awards with different submission packets and criteria. But, one might have influenced the other.
“We have established a tradition of excellence in striving to provide the best recreation opportunity we can,” Wicker said.
The garrison award is based on numerous factors, including the types and extent of facility improvements, how Soldier resiliency is supported, how plans and programs are designed and implemented, how marketing is extended, how customer service is balanced against fiscal responsibility to name a few. The criteria is so far-reaching, Wicker said FMWR can’t take all the credit because other garrison elements contributed to the award.
One example that FMWR cited in their award submission packet was the fact that all four fitness centers on the installation have been renovated since 2006; in part, because funding was provided by the garrison Directorate of Public Works.
“This award is shared with all Fort Knox Community Recreation Division staff for the many quality services they provide to Soldiers, retirees, civilian and Family members,” Wicker said. “More than 150 employees share in this award.”
In spite of the recognition, Soldiers probably won’t notice many changes in the daily FMWR operations.
“Hopefully, Soldiers are aware of the quality programs and quality customer service that are ongoing,” said Enoch. “We don’t operate to the award.”
“Soldiers aren’t going to see a bump in recreation opportunities and then see things fizzle out,” Wicker agreed. “The level is so high throughout that they probably won’t be aware of any differences.”
The award comes with a check for $5,000 for the recreation program and a trophy for Enoch, who said many other employees were just as deserving as he was.
“I have a great staff and a great chain of command,” Enoch said.
While some might think recreation is just about having fun, Wicker believes it’s much more.
“Recreation programs are vital to garrison communities,” he said. “These programs help our Soldiers and Families continue to cope with the demands and high levels of stress associated with their missions.”
Recreation is more than play
Recreation is more than playing in your leisure time. Recreation recharges a person’s batteries and those who enjoy satisfying recreational activities are more productive in their work. Research demonstrates that recreation helps participants reduce stress, and outdoor recreation such as sports may help increase physical fitness, boost immune systems. Team recreation like sports increase self esteem, develop leadership and social skills. Recreational therapy is used to assist those with mental health needs and those who enjoy regular recreation have less depression and loneliness.
In other words, recreation is a key to developing resilience.
Recreation varies widely from one person to the next; for a musician playing a guitar may be work, while for someone else, it’s a leisure activity that reduces stress. For some, gardening is a chore; for others, gardening is a joy. What defines recreation is more about a person’s preference and personality.