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The Fort Drum Outdoor Recreation has all of the gear one might need for any winter activity. The staff invited community members to see all they have to offer during an open house and customer appreciation event Nov. 10. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)


Outdoor Recreation staff hosts open house to highlight North Country winter activities


Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs


FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 10, 2020) – It’s no secret that there’s an abundance of recreational opportunities in the North Country during the winter. From ice fishing and ice skating to snowshoeing and skiing, a long, cold season is ideal for trying out all that this region has to offer.

At Fort Drum, the Outdoor Recreation staff helps community members get all of the right gear for any occasion. On Nov. 10, they hosted an open house to showcase their arsenal of rental equipment and winter packages.

“I’m a native of this area, and I know these go fast every year,” said Matthew Fayle, pointing to an ice fishing tent. “It’s a pretty popular activity around here anyway, but during COVID-19, I guarantee everything we rent out for winter will be gone.”

That was apparent over the summer, as people spent more time outside because of the pandemic.

“All the boats and campers were rented out every single weekend,” Fayle said. “All in all, I would say we had 60 to 80 large items rented out each weekend, plus people could rent equipment for the entire week.”

Jessica Penny, Outdoor Recreation manager, said that people unfamiliar with any particular winter activity can use Outdoor Recreation as a “try before buy” option.

“There is definitely an advantage to coming here and renting the equipment before spending a bunch of money on something you might not like,” she said.

The Outdoor Recreation staff also can assist with party planning – with canopies, outdoor heaters, grills, pig roaster, turkey fryer and machines that distill snacks such as popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones. Community members can reserve Dirty Harry’s Sportsman Lodge for full- or half-day events.

“This winter, basically anything you want to do outside, we have what you need,” Penny said. “And we’re trying to find more things, especially family-oriented, so people aren’t cooped up inside all winter.”

The Outdoor Recreation staff schedules ice fishing trips to place such as Lake Bonaparte and Perch Lake. They also offer guided snowmobile rides and New York state certification classes for snowmobile safety.

The facility features a full menu of ski and snowboard services, to include sharpening, waxing, binding and basic repairs.

For 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers returning from deployment, Outdoor Recreation maintains the Warrior Adventure Quest program. Activities can range from canoeing and whitewater rafting to rock climbing, skiing and skeet shooting.

“We offer one high-adrenaline activity completely free to the Soldiers, and they participate as a unit,” Penny said. “I just had about 100 Soldiers come through for paintball.”

To maintain COVID-19 safety compliance, the sessions were scheduled over two days with groups of 25.

The open house also served as Customer Appreciation Day, with free bags of popcorn, cotton candy and sno-cones to snack on during the facility tour.

“Essentially, this is a chance for us to thank the community and give a little back to the Soldiers and families,” Penny said.

Outdoor Recreation is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the Recreational Shooting Complex is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, call (315) 772-8222 or visit https://drum.armymwr.com/programs/outdoor-recreation.