Nothing is better to beat the hot Florida sun than a cold glass of water . Tyler had just competed in the obstacle course behind the Bradenton Boys Club . I devised the course and it was very difficult . The boys were timed on about 5 different obstacles . Tyler was very good at this . The best time to have this activity was early morning . Even then the sun was quite hot . The obstacle course was a great physical fitness program .
Camping in Bradenton was not as fun for me because the temperature was always hot and very humid. Plus you never know when an alligator might show up. So on this trip I took five boys to a cabin that was air conditioned. We could still take daytime hikes and even cookout. Our evening time was confined to the cabin. We had this cabin for five days and of our three camping trips, this by far was the greatest.
The only down side was there was no place to swim so I bought a slip and slide and the kids had a ball twice daily doing that.
We had a screened in porch and I told the boys ghost stories out there. This was how to camp in Florida.
the Bradenton Boys Club had a rather unusual room in that it was not attached to the boys club. It was just outside the locker room and it have its own entrance. The boys used it for lifting weights, playing their own music, and for exercise. Only the senior age boys were allowed to use the facility. Fortunately the room was air-conditioned. The boys also cleaned this round themselves. It was almost like their own Den. But they did not abuse this privilege and had great fun there.
My custodian hated this room . He had to clean it often because of all the dust buildup . But he also had to clean the dust in the hallway just outside the Ceramics room . The kids however love this room because of all the projects they can because of all the projects they can do . We had a special instructor for this room and she came twice a week . But this room was busy the full day she was there . This is the only Boys Club I had that had a Ceramics room .
the sport of Bubble Ball was played by three of my boys clubs. Hoffman Estates, Joplin, and Bradenton all played Bubble Ball. However the ball in question also had other uses. Roof Ball was also played using this ball which drifted with the currents of the Wind especially on Windy days. Roof Ball was only played at the Hoffman Estates and Bradenton boys clubs. Both Bubble Ball and Roof Ball were more challenging on Windy days. Hoffman Estates had the perfect roof for Roof Ball angling 3 times on the back roof. The kids had a great time playing with the Bubble Ball.
Tyler loved the obstacle course that we had at the Bradenton Boys Club. He could go through that obstacle course faster than any other kid. Part of our obstacle course included a jungle gym, tires,a net they had to crawl under, and a rope swing over water. He was just so good at this course but unlike the other boys he practiced on this daily on his own time. Tyler was also good at ping pong and one-on-one basketball. He also liked making things in our woodshop. Tyler would try almost every activity we had except wrestling. He was a good-natured kid with a great smile.
The boys in the Bradenton boys club in Florida showed me a swimming hole that they used that was supposedly alligator free. There was even a rope swing there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen water so blue. I chose not to swim but I did wade. We made a day of it including lunch. the boys swam as soon as we got there and then again about an hour after lunch. They actually had more fun there then when we went to the Gulf of Mexico to swim. I enjoyed the Gulf more. Even though I got a bad.sunburn there.
This was a member of my Bradenton Boys Club and I was taken aback by Terry’s bravery in swimming in ponds in Florida. With the threat of alligators in basically every water source I would think it quite risky to swim in any unsupervised swimming area. But Florida kids are rather resilient albeit somewhat cocky in what they will or won’t do. This pond was on property that Terry’s family owned. They invited the boys club to use it and we came with caution. Fortunately there were no incidents that entire day. Terry’s mother said that no alligator in their right mind would take out her son. Interesting thought?
Bradenton Boys Club and Joplin boys clubs each had a operational woodshop at one time . But over the years each became obsolete within the boys club program . Each room had power saws and lathes. However wood shops have to have qualified people to operate them . My two clubs did not . Plus when you added to it liability insurance Woodshop programs just didn’t make sense . Both of my programs had activities such as nail driving which is a far cry for what a Woodshop program should be . I wonder how many active Woodshop programs exist today in boys clubs?
my last Club was in Bradenton Florida. This club had a game room, weight room, a woodshop, a Ceramics room, photography lab, gymnasium and locker room, and 3 large baseball fields. This particular Club ceased operations in 2008. The club has since merged with another . It was located right next to the Pittsburgh Pirates training facility.
Bradenton Boys Club had three large baseball fields behind the club . For a Florida club, only one field had any decent shade . Even more interesting the club had no baseball program . I only used the Shaded field and only for Bubble Ball . My board of directors felt the hot fields under the Florida Sun would be too much for the children . So all that space went unused until winter . What a waste of space . In winter the focus was on basketball when we could have had winter baseball . Oh well I was only the director and this board of directors made the majority of decisions.
I wanted to take a look back at the six Boys Clubs of America that I was a part of during that time of my life.
1. Marion, Indiana: I was the Educational Director there and part of my job was to host weekly television program on Channel 23. That club has now been sold to a church and has relocated to just south of Indiana Wesleyan University. It was from here and from Taylor University that many of my guest speakers came from. I also operated Matthew’s Indiana extension one day a week.
2. Salesian, Columbus, Ohio. This club was located in downtown Columbus and closed down a few years ago for a lack of financial resources. Part of my job there was to work at St. Ladislaus as their physical education director. The club itself has a pool, gymnasium with a running track over the gym, and an eight lane bowling alley.
3. Hoffman Estates, Illinois. This was my first job as an Executive Director and I had a renovated barn with an excellent outside facility including a football field and two softball fields. The director after my tenure caused the club to close down and the building itself was removed.
4. Joplin, Missouri: I was again the Executive Director of this club and oversaw their new facility which was partly opened during my tenure. Since that time, the old building has been razed and a second gym installed.
5. Bradenton, Florida. This club closed down in 2009. It has three large baseball fields, a Ceramics room, they gymnasium and locker rooms, a weight room, a games room, and a wood shop.
Of course over the span of some twenty-five years changes are inevitable and progress must be a part of any expansion plan. It was sad, though, to learn that Hoffman Estates, Bradenton, and the Salesian clubs are no longer in operation.Now I’m at my last Club called Mishawaka. I serve as its executive director. It has a pool, gymnasium, Learning Center, games room, Arts & Crafts Center, kitchen, and two large softball fields.