Ping Pong Joey

Joey was a member of the Bradenton Boys Club and he loved hanging pong. For a Cadet, our youngest age group, he won almost every tournament. For exercise he enjoyed around the world ping-pong. Holy ping-pong frustrated Joey because a one inch diameter hole was drilled into the center of the paddle. It took him some time to get used to this game and he wasn’t used to losing. Over the span of time he was 50-50 in this game. He never quite mastered it. Joey also liked our Ceramics room and when he wasn’t playing ping-pong he was there. I think he had a crush on our instructor. Joey was a great kid.

Chad was Shy

Chad was an extremely Shy Boy that I had at the Bradenton Boys Club. He was very active in the club but he did not want his face to appear on camera. Whenever my staff was taking pictures he would always turn away just as we snapped the shot. Most of my guys love getting their picture taken but not Chad. I don’t think he objected to having his picture taken as long as his face wasn’t in it. Maybe he is on the witness protection program or wanted by the law? Just kidding of course.


These are light weight balls that I call Bubble Ball. It is a combo of baseball and dodgeball. Each game is seven innings long with only two outs per inning. You can throw the ball at base runners below the shoulders to get them out. On windy days the game can be a challenge.  I also used this ball for Roof Ball. A staff member serves as the pitcher and umpire.

Here is a different version that I used in  Bradenton, Florida. This Bubble Ball is similar in nature to Bataca which was like a pillow fight.

I would suggest using these only on cool mornings in Florida.  It was a great way to settle a fight with no  one getting hurt. You can also use it as a game. The first person to the ground loses. Have fun!

Tyler after the Obstacle Course

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 . steve

The Value of Camping

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 Weight Room

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.

Boys Club Ceramics

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 . 

Bubbleball Uses

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 and the Obstacle Course

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 Old Swimming Hole

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.

Risk Taker Terry

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?

Woodshop Fallacies

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?d3539158a19fe3e56c622ec18ebafb76

Bradenton Boys Club

bradenton-boys-club1121 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.