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What are we doing this weekend on post?

JBLM's MWR programming expands its audience and lineup

Young servicemembers enjoy afternoon festivities at MWR’s Single Servicemember Day in 2017. Photo credit: JBLM MWR

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After all the formations are over, the company areas are cleaned, and the motor pool gates are locked on a Friday afternoon, servicemembers are finally free to enjoy the weekend. But not all servicemembers living on Joint Base Lewis-McChord make an immediate dash for the gate. Instead, you're likely to see them checking the Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) website or chatting about an upcoming MWR event. The simple fact is that JBLM's MWR program goes above and beyond to keep servicemembers participating in on-post activities whether they're on or off-duty.

JBLM's MWR program organizes an astounding number of events each year. In 2017 alone, no fewer than 86 events were advertised online. So far in 2018, 22 MWR events, including job fairs, hunting and fishing clinics, fitness fairs and holiday-themed fun runs, have already come and gone. It's not unheard of for MWR events to pull in more than 500 participants as the organization's reputation for pulling off engaging, full-experience activities grows.

Over the last few years, MWR officials have not only focused on increasing the number of events held per year but also on delivering a wider variety. Newer additions to JBLM's MWR lineup include wine and jazz mixers, variety shows, interactive-theater experiences, zombie runs and "extreme nights out" for parents.

In the world of longstanding annual events, MWR officials keep things fresh by continually changing organizational leads. The hand-off from one MWR official to the next allows for new ideas to naturally spring up during the planning phase of events. A prime example of a new take on a classic event is last month's ShamROCKin' Run, which included not only crowd favorites like costume contests, photo opportunities and light snacks after the fun run but also newer additions of a beer garden, crafting stations, freshly grilled banger sausages and live music.  

JBLM's MWR has also been hard at work expanding its audience demographic. Officials are acutely aware that many young servicemembers spend a disproportionate amount of time alone in their barracks rooms, which can easily lead to isolation or depression. To combat this, MWR organizes events like video game tournaments and UFC viewings that will appeal to young servicemembers and coax them out of the barracks.

Another demographic MWR hopes to tap into is new parents, who may be in desperate need of a reprieve from childcare. Take MWR's Family New Year's Eve bash at Sounders Lane last December: The festivities included unlimited bowling, sparkling cider and door prizes to keep adults happy. Meanwhile, children and teens enjoyed the addition of pizza and finger foods, a laser maze and party favors until the New Year's countdown. Likewise, last fall's Oktoberfest & Fall Flea Market combined the traditional (and historically raucous) Bavarian celebration of Oktoberfest with a family-friendly market. Children's carnival rides, costume contests, hawking wares, crafts, and German food and drink all melded into a delightfully low-key, family-friendly event.

It won't come as a surprise if JBLM's MWR program shifts focus again in the future, but for now, it's clear the organization intends to court young servicemembers whether they're single, married or have a family in tow. Either way, there's something to do most weekends on post, and for that, you can thank MWR.

JBLM Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation, open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, 2013B N. 3rd & Pendleton, Room 117, JBLM, 253.967.5200,

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