Camp Zama family's patriotic theme earns 'Yard of the Month' honors
Stars and Stripes June 19, 2003
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Kay Calton says she didn’t spend much money on her yard.
Five-year-old Kaylin planted the flowers, and Calton’s two sons painted the miniature picket fence and wood lattice red, white and blue. The materials were acquired either for free at the Self-Help store or at an off-base 100 yen shop.
Calton, a Camp Zama spouse, said she never dreamed she’d win yard of the month for May.
“I believe I won because of the patriotic red, white and blue,” she said.
The yard-contest season is in full swing at Camp Zama, Sagamihara housing area and Sagami Depot. Grass is being cut with a flourish, new flowers potted and weeds pulled; new lawn ornaments appear seemingly overnight.
“We’re breeding the Army to be the best, so we created a competition because that’s what we’re familiar with,” said Maj. John Amberg, Camp Zama spokesman. “Soldiers are competitive by nature.”
But Calton said the contest is not about one-upping the neighbors.
“It’s not like we’re competing,” she said. “It has to do with having pride in where you live and your yard.”
The “Yard of the Month” contest is a long-standing tradition at Camp Zama and its outlying installations. Judges said they seek yards that are well-maintained and visually pleasing.
“I don’t look for anything fancy,” said Maj. Jose Nunez, the Camp Zama mayor. “Do they maintain the yard, use a little creativity? Is there balance, symmetry?”
This year, the yard competition adds a new twist: Residents in Camp Zama’s two high-rises can participate, although in the separate category of quarters.
Army leaders on post wanted to include residents without yards “because they’re as proud of their homes as well,” said Wanda Abrams, Army Community Service officer. “The idea is to encourage residents to maintain and keep their government quarters nice.”
The “Quarters/Yard Beautification Competition” runs May through September. So far, no tower residents have asked to have their home judged for the contest. But Nunez believes that will change when word of the new competition spreads. For the yards, inspections are informal and unannounced: Nunez inconspicuously eyes lawns while running or driving across post. But high-rise residents must call him to schedule a visit. The mayor and the respective building coordinator will judge the apartment interior and commons area.
Cleanliness is key in the quarters, Abrams said. Creativity is another factor. “Sometimes, the quarters are really small but they may have created a space that they like to show off or they may have an ingenious idea” for improving a room, she said.
Prizes vary. Calton won a $60 gift certificate and coupons, but Abrams stressed winnings depend on sponsor donations. Each month, a winner and two runners-up are named at each installation; they’re then eligible to compete in the “Quarters/Yard of the Year” contest.
The quarters category is open only to residents of Camp Zama’s two high-rise towers. Those who want to participate should contact Nunez at 263-8493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.