MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Come winter, families may be hard-pressed to say there’s nothing to do at Misawa.

The Weasel’s Den, an indoor recreation center in Building 973, is undergoing a major facelift.

About $750,000 in new equipment and renovations is geared toward making the facility more family oriented, with activities for toddlers to teenagers.

“We wanted to build something that drew people in,” said Ben Furqueron, 35th Services Squadron Outdoor Recreation director. “I think once this is finished … we’ll have utilized the space to its capacity.”

Though the project won’t be done until late fall, families are already enjoying some of the new design. A portion of the new 14,000-square-foot kids’ play area opened last month. It features a tree house and a structure with tall slides and climbing walls. A play dramatic stage is slated to be put in, and the children’s tunnel maze next to the climbing wall will be relocated nearby, Furqueron said. The section is for kids up to age 12.

A carpeted reading corner for small children includes a play area and books. It eventually will include a pretend grocery store with plastic food and carts, as well as storefront- and library-themed facades.

The entire play area previously was the go-kart track, which Furqueron said was taken out because usage didn’t justify the amount of space it used up.

Parents with kids in tow at the Weasel’s Den on Monday said they liked that there were sections for different ages. “All else fails, you can bring them to the Weasel’s Den,” said one mother of two.

Older kids and teenagers will have their own section near the climbing wall. Plans there call for a large movie screen for gaming tournaments, karaoke, a lounge area, and pool, foosball and pingpong tables. The Weasel’s Den will be closed for short intervals, likely this fall, for repainting, Furqueron said.

Money for the project came from Pacific Air Forces, as well as base “fallout” and nonappropriated fund dollars, Furqueron said. Base civil engineers are pitching in with renovations as needed, he said.

The 65,000-square-foot recreation center opened in 2004. It’s housed in a former storage hangar.

Other changes already in place or to come include:

A Tiki Room to rent for birthday parties opened in January. A barn-themed birthday room will be added.Astroturf and painted batter’s boxes in the batting cage.Picnic benches and small vending machines next to the kids’ play area.Giant games, including dominoes, chess and checkers.Educational rugs for toddlers.Got the urge to ride some waves?Outdoor Recreation at Misawa Air Base will offer new programs this summer, including beginner surfing lessons, says the organization’s director, Ben Furqueron. Lessons will start in July at a beach south of Hachinohe.

Outdoor Recreation recently bought 15 surfboards, which, along with wet suits, will be available for rent.

Also on tap:

Family camping on base. Kids can watch a movie and Outdoor Recreation will provide breakfast. Dates to be announced.Every Saturday this month, free four-hour introductory scuba sessions at Himberg Pool.Outdoor movies in the park on a giant inflatable screen. Dates to be announced.First introduction to sea kayaking class is May 15 and 17. The class is required to rent sea kayaks or to participate in future kayaking tours.Boats at the base beach are getting wakeboard towers. Outdoor Recreation will offer wakeboard instruction.The base beach opens May 23 with the annual Memorial Day Beach Bash.For more information, call Outdoor Recreation or the Weasel’s Den at DSN 226-9378. Hours are Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed the second Wednesday of each month.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now