AFRC Europe Targets Young Troops
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
GARMISCH, Germany, Feb. 19, 1998 Venture out into the vast unknown? Leave base where everyone speaks English? Stray from the safety of the barracks, the comfort of Burger King?
"Do it!" says, Marc J. Jannsen, operations manager at Armed Forces Recreation Center Europe.
Junior-grade service members new to Europe should take advantage of AFRC recreational activities in southern Germany such as skiing, scuba diving, kayaking, rock climbing and more, Jannsen said.
"When you're young and you're in Europe for the first time," he said, "there's a tendency to not leave the base where you have everything you need. We're trying to target junior enlisted by giving them some great programs. We offer scuba diving, hang gliding, paragliding - things younger enlisted like to do."
Center advertising keys on junior enlisted troops because only about 15 percent of those who use AFRC Europe facilities are in grades E-1 to E-5, Jannsen said. "We want that to be a lot higher," he said.
In September, the center started offering low-cost, convenient travel packages specifically to introduce junior-grade soldiers to the AFRC resorts. Special promotions were offered: $69 for three nights at Chiemsee including tours, meals and activities. A bus picked up troops at their home base and brought them to Bavaria.
"That's a price I don't think anybody could refuse," Jannsen said. "We sold for a low rate, hoping for return business, and we've already seen that this winter."
AFRC then began offering three-day ski programs for $149 per person, which includes three nights' lodging, three breakfasts, three dinners, four hours of ski lessons, equipment and ski passes. Jannsen predicted this successful program will continue to increase his E-1 to E-5 clientele in 1998.
U.S. service members, DoD civilians and family members assigned to U.S. European Command are eligible to use AFRC Europe facilities in Garmisch and Chiemsee, Germany. The recreation facilities are also open to military retirees, reservists and National Guard members assigned to Europe, and to NATO allies assigned to NATO or SHAPE headquarters.
Currently, along with the 15 percent junior enlisted who use the facilities, 30 percent are O-4 to O-6 or GS-11 and above; 48 percent are E-6 to E-9, O-1 to O-3, and GS-10 or below. The remaining 7 percent are O-7, Senior Executive Service and members of NATO.
Because of constant personnel turnover, making sure people know about the AFRC takes continual effort, Jannsen said. Even though AFRC advertises in The Stars and Stripes newspaper and on American Forces Network, he said, when AFRC representatives go on the road to promote the resorts, people always walk up and ask, "What's AFRC?"
The response is simple: Come on down and find out.