For service members and their families with permanent change of station orders, it's going to be a busy summer. But that doesn't mean they can't have some fun. A PCS move is often a great opportunity for travel and adventure. For one thing, service members may be able to combine leave with PCS-related travel for more time off. And, if you're between duty stations, a move can be an ideal time to enjoy a vacation with fewer work commitments.
Fortunately, many military installations offer low-cost recreation options. So, before the boxes are packed and loaded up on the truck, take the opportunity to check out ways to add a little fun to your summer. Start with Best Kept Secrets: Joint Service Campgrounds and Facilities. You will find information on military recreation centers across the country. Destination resorts, like the Armed Forces Recreation Center Resorts, offer the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind. Find out more by reading Using Military Lodging Facilities for Leisure Travel.
Installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs can be a great resource when planning summer adventures. Many installations rent camping and recreation gear. Equipment varies by location, but you may find some of these items at the nearest MWR program:
- Camping gear, including tents, sleeping bags, stoves and lanterns
- Barbecue grills
- Boats, including fishing boats, pontoon boats and ski boats
- Canoes and kayaks
- Recreational vehicles and pop-up campers
- Fishing equipment
- Volleyball sets
- Paintball gear
- Archery equipment
Many installation MWR programs also offer recreation facilities and instructional programs. Depending on the location, these might include the following:
- Boating programs with marinas, instruction and, in some areas, private berths
- Golf courses with open play, instruction and tournaments
- Horse stables with recreational riding and instruction
- Bowling centers with instruction and league play
- Recreation centers with Internet cafes and game rooms
- Fitness programs with exercise classes and personal trainers
- Racquetball, tennis and basketball courts
- Swimming pools
- Shooting ranges
- Specialty programs, such as flying clubs and scuba diving instruction
If you need help learning more about your options, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 and speak with a consultant who can help you plan a summer adventure. Knowing what's available will help you take advantage of all that these programs have to offer. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Plan ahead. Check out what your new installation has to offer, as well as installations along your travel route. Remember, service members can use any service branch's MWR and recreation facilities. Most states have at least one recreation facility serving military members and families; some states have as many as 16. You'll find contact information on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
- Check out military lodging facilities. They can be a real money saver when you're traveling.
- Book ahead. Because military lodging tends to fill up quickly, especially during the summer, it is important to make your reservations early on.
- Visit the Information, Tickets and Travel office for discounts. This installation program offers information and discounted tickets for sporting events, shows, tours, amusement parks and more. The installation website may have information on pricing and events in the local area. Most offices also have discounts on the most popular national tourist attractions, and can help with your travel arrangements.
For all the sacrifices you and your family make, you deserve a little fun this summer. That's why the military support programs work hard to offer low-cost recreation options to service members and their families. By taking advantage of those programs and facilities, you can make this summer's PCS the best one yet.