Friday, August 28, 2015

TOP STORY >> Outdoor Recreation’s not all fun, games

By Tammy L. Reed
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

It turns out that Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation is not all fun and games. 

Of course they have the “fun” stuff like equipment for camping and bean bag toss, horse stables, exciting trips around the Natural State and rentals like boats, sports equipment and “Big Larry” the water slide.  

They also provide a treasure trove of tools and equipment that provide quicker ways to do weekend do-it-yourself projects  like caring yards, decks and gardens. In particular they regularly rent heavy duty tools such as lawn mowers and aerators, stump grinders, power washers and tillers.

While these things don’t have much to do with recreation, they do allow Team Little Rock members to finish many “honey-do” projects many need to complete before enjoying some hard-earned recreation offerings. 

Director Ken Dickson even provides “How-to” videos on Outdoor Recreation’s website, it even easier to use the equipment and make onerous work go more smoothly.

He said the lawn and garden equipment rental is pretty big right now, and sometimes wear and tear on the equipment, plus user error can stall a project.

 “We came up with the idea of showing people how to use the equipment with “How-to” videos through our marketing department. Mr. Shelby, who’s worked here for 30 years, is our ‘Equipment Whisperer,’ and he can get things started like that (finger snap). That’s why he’s in the videos showing people how to use the machinery.”

“If you have an issue with our equipment, you can go to our website, or YouTube, Rockin’ at the Rock, and there are the videos,” he said.

The lawn and garden equipment videos have been up just about a month now, and 19th FSS Marketing Director Monica Young says she’s received positive feedback that the videos are a “great idea” and that they’ve been very helpful. 

Digital Media Specialist Jason Peters filmed the videos and tracks them on the web page at 129 views so far.  He said the videos started with a recommendation from a customer, who suggested putting photos of the equipment on Outdoor Recreation’s website so people could see exactly what was offered.

“We decided to go one better by posting photos and doing the videos as a way to both let the customers see what we have and help them in case they forget the instructions Ken’s people give at the time of rental. That way we know we have truly set our customers up for success when they rent from Outdoor Recreation.”

Following this success Dickson is also thinking of branching out into “How-to” videos for other things.  He plans to walk through a camper to show people things like it has to be level for the refrigerator to work and how to use the air conditioner. 

“Another thing we’ll probably do a “How-to” video on is how to use our trailers.  We really push our trailers as they are one thing that rents year round, they have really boomed,” he said. 

And, he wants to do a video showing people how to properly put up a moonwalk. 

“Each moonwalk has flaps on it,” Dickson said. “You have to close the flaps, or it will not inflate all the way.  We’ve had constant calls that there are big holes in the moonwalks, but then we get them back with no holes, they just didn’t close the flaps.”

Moonwalks and campers are just part of the recreation equipment Team Little Rock personnel can rent from Outdoor Recreation.  

“In the last year and a half we’ve bought new waterslides – you can see Big Larry the water slide around as his dance card is always full – then we listened to our customers who asked for a car hauler, and we bought a car hauler,” Dickson said.  “It has paid for itself.”

Then there’s “Leroy,” the 17-foot enclosed cargo trailer that customers also wanted, which is out all of the time as well. 

“We also just got these brand new, what they call giant bikes (mountain bikes with bigger tires), that rent pretty well – when it’s not 125 degrees outside. We have different sizes, and we’ve had units rent them for squadron fitness.,” said Dickson said. 

“We are also looking at getting hunting equipment, as we sell the licenses here – hunting and fishing, state and base – then we’ll have the equipment as well for a one-stop shop.”

When Dickson shops for new equipment, he does his research and goes “industrial strength” to make the items last longer for their investment. 

“We have to go with a better brand to withstand the punishment of being rented all the time. The power washers we had weren’t lasting as they were for home use and the motors would die.  These we have now are heavy duty washers,” he said.

Of course Outdoor Recreation has other things like boats and camping supplies to finish out the summer, as well as tables and chairs, turkey fryers and smokers and even Santa suits available for the upcoming holiday season.  

Dickson is also looking to the future for new trips to be available, as they’ve recently hired a new program planner. 

“We are going to revamp our trips, as we’ve been doing the same things for about two years now.  We’re going to try to mix it up, go to different state parks and take hiking trips, different things like that.  We’re also going to be really listening to the airmen to see what they want to do, as it’s really important to me to do more outdoor adventures for them.”

For more information about all that Outdoor Recreation has to offer, call 987-3365, or look them up online at 

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