Errie Sunset at Big Bass Lake


One of the boys cired out, “Dave, the sky is on fire!” The members of the Marion Boys Club in one accord looked skyward and it was just as that one boy had declared. It appeared as though the sky was on fire. I don’t think that I had ever seen a sunset like that before in all my travels to Big Bass Lake. The colorful hues were magnificent. It had to be that the atmospheric conditions were just right to produce a sunset like that.

The kids and I watched that sky until the colors had faded into the night sky. The brilliant red sky adjusted into a purple one and then into jet black. Some of the boys watched from a fowboat nchored nearby as they fished that evening while others enjoyed the sight while swimiming. It was a spectacular albeit an errie evening that night. It provided just the right luster for an evening stroll through our woods that night.

Have you ever seen a similar sunset at Big Bass Lake? If so send us a photograph of it to norrisd090@gmail.com

Delicious Cattail Pancakes


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On one camping trip to our family farm the boys club kids made Cattail Pancakes with blueberries. Gathering cattails was the easy part. Here is the recipe-

Ingredients:

1 cup cattail flour
3 eggs
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Blueberry filling

To make cattail flour, boil the root stalks into a starchy gruel and dry in a 175 degree oven. This we accomplished at my grandmothers cabin using her oven. After the gruel is dry, remove the long fibrous hairs and you will have cattail flour. Kevin Hansel was the chief chef for this part of the project.

Combine the eggs with 1/2 cup of milk and beat for 2 to 3 minutes with a whisk or mixer. Add the cattail flour and beat to a heavy, smooth consistency. Beat in the remaining milk and melted butter and salt.

Lightly grease a cast-iron skillet or griddle. Don’t grease much, as the large amount of butter in the batter will make the pancakes soggy if you over-do it.

When the skillet is hot, drop 1 tablespoon of batter onto the pan for each pancake. When the edges brown lightly after about a minute, turn the pancake and cook for another minute or two.

Blueberry Filling:

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
Crush the berries slightly and sprinkle with the sugar. Let stand for an hour or so.

Put 2 tablespoons of blueberries in the middle of each cooked pancake and roll it up. Secure with a toothpick if necessary. Sprinkle lightly with sugar

Then enjoy some good eating direct from mother nature.

Camping in Our Woods


North Forested Property

For two nights, on one trip with the boys club, we moved one tent from our wooded beach into the main section of our forest. I wanted to give the boys an opportunity for deep woods camping. For those two days we still took our meals on the wooded beach but the remainder of our activities took place in our forest. On this trip from the Marion Boys Club I had another adult supervisor who stayed with one group of boys on the wooded beach while I took volunteers into the forest.

Our activities there were chopping wood for night time fires, digging our own firepit, hiking, and woodlore. We took a daily dip in Big Bass Lake along with the other group but then retreated to the deep woods. Each night of the two we had a nightly campfire and did roast marshmallows as the treat for the night but that was as far as we did with any type of cooking.

The boys actually found their sleep more peaceful in the forest than on the beach. One night the wind was rather brisk and the boys said they heard the trees talking by way of windy whispers which helped them drop off to sleep even faster. The brief experience in the forest was a success and I often wonder why I didn’t repeat this with other trips to our property. I suppose having a second adult along contributed to the success of this trip. Most times I went with the boys alone.

Kenny and The Haunted House


Kenny was one of the older boys that camped with our boys club trips on our property. He was also the young man that had mistaken bear tracks for deer tracks as another article states elsewhere on “BBL & Beyond“. Now it was the time for us to travel out to the Haunted Island and House. He was a little more than apprehensive after his “bear tracks” encounter.

Kenny was a little afraid of the supernatural world and especially at midnight as our boats docked at the rickety pier on the Haunted Island. He volunteered to stay with the boats as I could tell he had no desire to visit the actual Haunted House itself. But Kenny wasn’t a real good swimmer so he had to go with the rest of the boys. Knowing his more than fertile imagination if he had gotten scared by even the noise of a loon he might have tried swimming back.

As we approached the clearing to the haunted house he was holding onto the hands of another younger boy. On this trip out to the house there was nothing planned but that sure didn’t settle Kenny. Some of the boys stuck their heads through the doorway and windows but Kenny stayed back at the tree line. A sudden wind broke through the trees and Kenny hit the ground as the other kids began laughing since he was the oldest and the most scared.

Kenny then brushed himself off and had to pretend to be brave so he walked toward the house in almost a stagger saying that he was only joking about being scared. One of the younger boys suggested that we spend the night by the haunted house to which he said, “Forget you!” faster than a speeding bullet.

After a few minutes we returned back to the boats and then on back to our wooded beachfront. Kenny got his stagger back said he was just putting on to get the kids going but no one brought that line whatsoever. First the bear tracks and now his fear of the haunted house. This just wasn’t his week. But the rest of his trip went just fine.

Bloody Antler Trail Stars


at the end of the bloody antler trail there is a tree farm. And at that tree farm you can see literally every star in the sky. The Marion Boys Club witnessed this very thing. Without city lights blocking out the stars, the boys saw something they had never seen before. And their were in awe at what their eyes beheld. That was worth the walk! Even I was in awe of how the boys reacted to it all.  We stayed in that location about half an hour before moving on.

House Next to Our Wooded Beachfront


This was the house right next to our wooded beachfront at Big Bass Lake. But in all the camping trips I took with boys clubs I never once saw anyone living there during the 1970’s. I always liked their unique boathouse down by the lake. Our kids fished in this area often.

Behind this house was a fern covered pathways leading from Noreika Road down to our camping site. On a trip with the Marion Boys Club, one of our black kids was asked at dusk to run back to the car to get some extra blankets. This youngster would walk some of the most dangerous areas in Marion at night but on this occassion he looked at me saying, “By myself?”

This particular white house had a fence around it and when walking from my grandmother’s home down Noreika Road, we would often follow their fence line to that fern covered path. It was a shortcut from where we parked just off Noreika Road.

In all my travels to our property, even by myself, I can think of only one time that I saw anyone use this property. They must have used it more in the off season. Their pier was a rather simple one even in that time and I never saw a boat tied to it. I often wonder how lived there as the house seemed nice enough. Anyone know who does own it now?

The last campfire


IMG_20171019_202525 Eddie Crouch had just asked for another marshmallow while we were talking about the days events. I think I liked nightly campfires better than any other activity we did. It was at those times when you learned about the kids greatly. Jay talked about catching his fish while Allie mentioned about overcoming his fear of the dark. After a long day of fun each boy in turn told something about himself as it related to our camping trip. That is why campfires are so important because you also learn about what they need most in life. Some boys talked about unhappy family situations and they all listened. It is something about the darkness of the night added to the bright campfire that brought out the best of these boys. I also think the Boys Liked These Times best and they bonded together as one. Meal campfires were much different as the boys were much more hurried then. Plus the kids learned much more about me at those times too. The best campfire of all was the night before leaving the area as the kids really opened up about everything. After all it was there last night to do so.

Night Time Rowing


on a trip with the Marion Boys Club we took a lot of Night Trips on Big Bass Lake. The kids eyes would get real big especially at night. They would watch the darkness of the water and trying to find out how deep we were. We circled the haunted island one night and the kids thought about how they would react on the night we would be going there. Especially they watched the interior of the island hoping to get a glance at the haunted house. I think they were all relieved each time we returned to Camp after an evening on the lake.

The Marion Boys Club happenings


latest every Friday night for two years I hosted a program on WMCC channel 23, Marion Indianapolis. I was the educational director of the Marion boys club at the time. On the program I featured guest speakers that appeared at the boys club from the community of Marion and Indiana Wesleyan University. At times some of the boys appeared. Even board members of the club were interviewed. It was a great learning experience being on television every week and live. It gave the club a kind of publicity that you just can’t get today. 

What Light Through Yonder Tree Breaks?


on a hike in the Manistee National Forest with the Marion Boys Club we came across a raccoon. He was busy at a Creek doing something but we chose not to interrupt you because when cornered raccoons can be dangerous. He was really having a time whenever he was doing. Just then a bright flash of light charged through the trees upon us. It was almost piercing that’s we have to cover our eyes. The sun had come out from behind a cloud and the light was intense. When we looked back at the raccoon, he had moved on to probably do to the same light. Jay Davis remarked about all the Shadows that appeared where the light broke through. It’s little things like that that make camping so worthwhile.

The Mysterious Orb at Haunted Island


on a night that we were’nt scheduled to go to Haunted Island, Calvin Little of the Marion Boys Club pointed at a light in the trees of the island that had suddenly appeared. The boys gasped in amazement. The light lasted about 5 minutes and then was gone. The light was high in the tree line. After seeing what they did, David click wanted nothing to do with the Haunted Island. It is interesting to note that the light never appeared again. To this day I cannot explain that phenomena.