A new nature-themed playground opened in June at Shades of Green, the only Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) in the continental U.S. (CONUS). Opened in 1994, the AFRC is located on 27 acres in Lake Buena Vista near Disney World in Florida.
“Just minutes away from the Magic Kingdom and nestled between two PGA Championship golf courses, the Magnolia and Palm golf courses, the resort is the perfect destination for U.S. military members and their families to vacation,” explained Shades of Green General Manager Arnie Cole. “Shades of Green is operated by the U.S. Army in support of all branches of our military, offering tax-free accommodations. The resort has 583 rooms that can sleep up to five people, and includes a Wounded Warrior Suite and 23 ADA rooms. The rooms and hallways are the most spacious on the Walt Disney property, and include complimentary Wi-Fi for all guests.”
The Army serves as the Department of Defense (DoD) executive agent for Shades of Green, as well as the other three AFRCs, which include Dragon Hill Lodge, Korea; Edelweiss Lodge and Resort, Germany; and Hale Koa Hotel, Hawaii. These joint-service Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities provide quality, wholesome, affordable, family-oriented vacation recreation opportunities to service members, their family members and other authorized patrons (including official travelers) of the total defense force. AFRCs continue to serve as force multipliers by supporting military readiness, retention and well-being objectives. ...
Incoming Armed Forces Recreation Network (AFRN) Chair Bo Hutchens began working in recreation in 2007 while attending Florida State University in the Intramural Sports Program. After graduation in 2009, he started his military recreation career as the sports coordinator at NSB Kings Bay, Ga. Since then, he has held various management positions, and currently serves as the recreation, travel & parks director with oversight of outdoor recreation; parks; automotive services; Information, Tickets & Travel (ITT); the RV park; fitness; sports; aquatics; and Navy lake site Allatoona.
He currently resides in a small onestoplight town in North Florida with his wife Trudy, son Ryker and another baby due in November — a daughter, Tinsley. Bird hunting and watching his beloved Seminoles in athletics are some of his personal recreation interests.
GRF: As you take over as Armed Forces Recreation Network Chair, please provide your view of AFRN, and your goals for the coming year.
HUTCHENS: I feel that AFRN is still battling the challenges that have already been identified by my predecessors in terms of funding, travel restrictions and professionals having less time due to additional work requirements. While maintaining a leadership position within the network over the last couple of years, I feel that we are not delivering everything our consumers (military recreation professionals) want or need at the level we would like.
In moving forward, as a leadership team I think we are going to continue looking at ways to become more effective, streamline ourselves with what NRPA is doing, and look at the things we are working on to determine if they are making an impact to our professionals in the field. For the network itself, my goal would be to add value and communication. There needs to be value added that our members can see as a reason to participate, and we need to increase communication among members to provide some of that value. ...