ULBC Night Swim

 there is nothing better on a Hot August Night than to take a night swim in the ULBC pool. The pool is only 4 feet deep. It is great for swimming classes and fun time activities. Or just a lounge in the pool in the evening. The pool is my favorite place to be at camp next to tent city. I never swam in League Lake as I preferred the pool. I did use the lake for rowing. This was a great camp.

No Polar Bear Swims Here


The ULBC Camp Pool was far more superior to League Lake for me. I loved the refreshing waters of the pool over the algae plagued League Lake. I used the lake for rowboating.

What are your memories of the camp pool? Though only about four feet deep at its deepest, the pool afforded good fun for relay races, quick games, and good plain fun.

The Tent Foundations at ULBC Camp

Oh, what good memories roll out of my mind in regard to tent city where fellow counselors Gordon,Bob, nd I lived in 1970.  There were four big wall tents and our rotating kids from various cabins came to stay with us on their particular counselors days off. 

I remember names like Mike Kokines, Jim Coconate, and Mike Hartman as kids that kind of stand out in my memory of those days.  Then there was a foul mouthed kid by the name of Johnny Capps who changed everything about his language after an encounter with Swamp Man who came a visiting at the tents one night.

ULBC Camp is again open for another summer of fun.  In retrospect, perhaps Tent City should have been located in the forest around what is now known as Fox Lake?  Instead it was about a quarter of a mile behind the dining hall.  There was not much forest land there.  I often wonder if Gordie and Bob would ever consider reuniting at camp for a week at Tent City?  Hmm?

The Rowboat, The Whistle, and Gordie

Tent Counselor Gordon had taken one of the dingy’s out for a spin on League Lake one afternoon and spent the majority of his time on the far part of the lake. The Waterfront Director began to whistle in the boats due to an approaching storm but since he was so far out in the lake, Gordie didn’t hear the whistle. After a time, he rowed back in and received a tongue lashing from the Waterfront Director for not heeding his whistle.

The totally embarrased Gordon took that tongue lashing in front of the kids and began his slow trek up the cement stairs to the upper camp before heading back to Tent City. It is quite hard to hear a whistle when you are on the other side of the lake especially if the wind is blowing. The open tongue lashing was unneccesary and would have been better to have been done in private if at all.

His punishment was being banned from the lake for two days. It could have been an either “orr” decision. By the way, at the top of the stairs to your right was the little kids cabin.

ULBC League Lake Then and Now

This is what League Lake looked like about four years ago. Notice the growing algae problem on the lake. Algae laced water can cause irration to the eyes and even disease. While summer camps are quite expensive to maintain, the bulk of that maintenance goes to cottages and food for the summer months. To control algae in the lake can be quite expensive.

But if you think that picture tells the whole story you would be sorely mistaken. Our next picture is League Lake as it appears today-

The algae problem seems to have worsened and there is also some sort of “sparkle” affect all over the center of the lake. I am not quite sure what that represents? Even the lagoon seems especially dried out even though Union League Camp had a goodly portion of rain this summer unlike other parts of the country. 

One good thing about the algae problem is that League Lake has a swimming pool right next to it with nice clean water at all times.  Of course, League Lake is more than safe for boating but swimming is another story.  Thoughts on this issue or on how to resolve it?

The ULBC One Day Counselor

One of our older boys by the name of Tim was given a high honor by being selected as a counselor in training at the Union League Camp in Salem, Wisconsin, and he was to join seven of our other club members that summer. The other members were there as campers for a one month session.

In the late afternoon ofthe first day Tim was there his mother called me at the Hoffman Estates Boys Club where I served as the Executive Director and told me that Tim wanted to come home already. Tim had taken it upon himself to boast to all the club members prior to going to camp about his counselor assignment. So after my club closed that day, I drove up to the camp which was about seventy miles away in southern Wisconsin.

As soon as I got there Tim demanded that we leave immediately. After a full days work and the drive I was quite tired and the camp director, Al Mackin, offered me a place to sleep that night. Well, Tim would have none of that so he began walking down the camp road heading for home to which Al picked him up and directed him back to the main lodge at the camp and gave him a good talking to. I informed Tim that we would leave camp about noon the next day.

Tim had trouble relating to the largely Hispanic kids at the camp, Our club was largely middle class white kids but we had an excellent relationship with the Union League Boys Club organization. In the morning I quizzed the other seven members that were there as campers asking if they also wanted to leave but they all said they were having a great time.

After a great breakfast, I took a quick row on League Lake before picking up Tim to take back to Hoffman Etates reminding him that he would be in for a rough time about all his bragging about being a counselor at camp to our other members since he only endured one day at camp. He still chose to leave so after bidding Al a fond farewell we headed back to Hoffman Estates.

Tim had been selected as a counselor during one of our many off season trips to the camp. He and Al had hit it off during those trips and Tim was ever so excited to be a counselor there but he found the work not to his liking. Al told me that was somewhat of a record as he had never before recalled a one day counselor.

That summer, Tim endured the ribbing by the other older members about his one day experience but it was all soon forgotten and things returned to normal.

The ULBC 7- Course Meal

On an early winter trip to the Union League Boys Club Camp in Salem, Wisconsin, our Hoffman Estates Boys Club kids were treated to special fare prepared by Al Mackin and Danny Heisen. The rest of us largely spent the day outdoors to let Al and one of our own, Danny, prepare the special meal.

We hiked around the lake, played hound and the hare, and also did a scavenger hunt before returning to the main lodge for supper that evening. To our surprise a seven course meal awaited us. Most of our kids had never had such an eating experience but it began with an appetizer and moved into several more courses including dessert.

Danny later told me that it was an exciting experience for him as Al had asked for one volunteer to assist him that day. Our boys went to bed that evening with very full stomachs and an experience I’m sure they have never forgotten.

That weekend we had hoped for some snow to do some sledding on the ULBC hills but that never happened as there was only a dusting on the ground. However, the day we left, Sunday, by the time we got back to Hoffman Estates the television news recorded a two to three inch snowfall in Wisconsin.

They may not have got to go sledding but they did feast on that seven course meal with hearty appetites.

Day of the Storm

About a quarter mile behind the dining hall was the tent area of the Union League Boys Club Camp in Salem, Wisconsin where I served as a tent counselor along with Gordie Payne and Bob Reiser.

I was coming up from the main camp on my way back to the tent area when the director of the camp shouted, “There’s a storm brewing, Dave, better get the kids back into the main camp area”. I ran out to the tent area and just as I announced what the kids were to do the winds and storm hit and hit hard. Gordie, Bob, and I put all the kids in the center of the tents with mattresses and blankets covering them just in case the worst happened. The three of us were holding onto the tent poles as if they were a vibrator in the winds.

Within minutes the storm subsided but the skies were still dark. A decision was made to get into camp as soon as possible and all we encountered at that time was light rain. As the kids made it into the cabins the storm broke and the sky began to clear. I was the only one of the three counselors that picked up strep throat after all that. Had to endure two straight nights in the camp infirmiry.

The Snapping Turtle at ULBC Camp

A counselor friend was walking near the lagoon when a snapping turtle surprised him and he threw his towel up into the air and that turtle actually snapped that towel in half. Later that day several counselors hunted that turtle down and killed it. They took it into the nature cottage and separated the shell from the meat as they planned at first to eat their prize catch.

However as the afternoon progressed, and the flies descended on their catch, they chaged their mind about dining on their catch. Instead they took pride in displaying the shell of tha turtle for all to see, The only one who didn’t ever want to see any part of that turtle again was the counselor whose towel was snapped into by the monster. He had seen all of that turtle he desired to see already.

I only saw the shell of that turtle but it was rather amazing to say the least as it was quite large.

Away All Boats!

Being a tent counselor, we never had our own batch of boys like the other counselors had since we had their cabins on their days off.  However, I used to enjoy watching the boat races between various cabins following the shoreline of League Lake as it was called in the 1960’s.  Skillful rowers always kept on course but those that chose to over row their boats either headed into the middle of the lake or toward shore.  The latter was the worse of the two especially so if they touched land for they would then have to push off and head back toward the course again.

I supervised one race aboard a dingy which was my boat of choice as it could be moved about quite easily.  I wonder if those types of boats are still available at camp today? 

The boys seemed to enjoy the races if not moreso for the fun they had splashing each other along the route.  Does the camp still have boat races today?  Let us know by way of a comment.

The Union League Camp Pool

I never enjoyed swimming in League Lake at the Union League Resident Camp in Salem, Wisconsin. Boating it I enjoyed greatly but swimming, no. However within three feet of the lake was a swimming pool which was greatly used by all. The cool clean water was in stark contrast to the algae laiden League Lake.

The pool was no more than four feet deep but available for lap swimming or games such as you see in our photograph above. The pool was used for swimming lessons as was popular among both campers and counselors alike. My kids enjoyed the pool for keep away games and just splashing one another.

Whenever I swam in League Lake I felt like I needed a shower afterwards but not so with the pool. Being a relatively small lake the algae problem has grown over the years. The only way to battle it is with chemicals. Today I would think the pool is still an asset to the camp along with the newer tennis courts.