Aerial Marion Boys Club

w This was the boys club on South Clark Street. This is a building where I served as educational director in the early 1970s. Sometime in the late 1980s, the club was a victim of a flood which did a lot of damage to the building. The new Boys Club is now close to Indiana Wesleyan University. This old club had a library, TV room, two offices, two restrooms, two game rooms, a kitchen, And a gymnasium. They also had wa lighted playground. Once a year we went camping both in Michigan and at Wagner Lake. Each trip was for a week. The club also took camping trips for a weekend to Salamonie State Forest. I hosted a television program on Marion/ Indianapolis channel 23. It was a great Boys Club and we had fantastic kids.

Yup! It’s Wagner Lake

Yes you’re at Wagner Lake Marion Indiana . You can tell it’s Wagner Lake because you can’t see your foot in  one foot of water. Wagner lake is known for its brownish water . And this young fellow  isn’t sure if he wants to go in or not .  If he Dives underwater he won’t be able to see anything . I suppose walking around in this type of water  won’t hurt you .  However  it’s much easier to row a boat in this water  then to swim in it . 

Tire Swing at Wagner Lake

The boys from the Marion YMCA used to love to use the rope swing at Wagner Lake. Mr. Wagner was gracious enough to allow the Y to use his property for a Day Camp. Besides swimming and boating there was also hiking, outdoor cooking, and arts and crafts. The kids usually arrived at 10 a.m. and left at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. He allowed us a 2 week session usually in July. The kids had a great time including a jump the pit contest and the pit was filled with yucky mud. The only one that avoided hitting the pit was the winner. Fortunately Wagner Lake was close by to wash off.

Getting your Feet Wet

IMG_20170923_225109 This was the best way to approach Wagner Lake in Marion. I’m always rather suspicious of a lake where your feet disappear when you step in the lake.  You see Wagner lake is a rather dirty lake.  That’s why it’s better to swing into the lake than to step into it. The kids in the Marion Boys Club found out we’re going t The kids in the Marion Boys Club found that out quicker than a speeding bullet. I don’t know how that lake got so dirty?

Liability and Wagner Lake

IMG_20170922_155203 This was the Wagner Lake diving platform that the Marion Boys Club used one year. It was not put together too soundly and one of our boys slightly injured himself when climbing the ladder. The parents of that young boy challenged mr. Wagner in court and won. The next year when the Marion Boys Club went to camp the diving platform was gone. Liability is what is killing many programs in boys clubs of America. Everyone is sue happy these days. I believe the decision at Wagner Lake was a good one. I thought the construction of that platform was very inadequate. But we kept going to Camp year after year and they all had a great time there.

Fishing at Wagner Lake

the Marion YMCA also took out two week period at Wagner Lake in the summer. The kids used to go down to the dam a lot to fish in that area but the majority liked to fish off the dock. Those wonderful Muddy Waters made fishing harder because you couldn’t see your prey. I often wondered if the worms could? Fishing was a pretty popular activity there and the kids did catch a few fish. We usually threw them back in because I couldn’t even think about eating those fish. For one that was used to clear water Wagner Lake was just the opposite. But the bottom line is that the YMCA Kids had a great time there.

Wagner Lake in Marion

Wagner Lake just outside Marion, Indiana, was the host for a week long camping experience for the Marion Boys Club each summer.  Being used to being able to see the bottom at Big Bass Lake in Michigan at even ten feet or more, it was hard to get used to one’s foot disappearing in Wagner Lake at the depth of two feet! 

Yet the camp had some marvelous hiking trails and even a dam that faced Indiana 9.  The lake also had a channel at the north end that was similar to what one might find in the Florida Everglades.  While at camp the kids had many contests including scavenger hunts, jump the pit contest (filled with mud), and rowing races.  The jump the pit contest was on the shoreline of Wagner Lake and I never was sure as to which was the dirtiest, the pit or the lake itself?

Often times we would take boat excursions into the channel at Wagner Lake after dark which the boys thought was real spookyThat channel was almost impossible to enter after a hard rain as those waters emptied into the lake and the current into the channel was near impossible to try and get into it. 

I don’t think that I ever saw clear water at Wagner Lake on any of our visits there as the water was always murky brown.  Still the boys enjoyed their time there and that was the bottom line.

Jump the Pit Contest

Each summer the Marion Boys Club spent one week at Wagner Lake including one overnight. One contest that was very popular was the jump the pit contest. The only catch was that the pit was filled with gooey mud. The only one that wouldn’t get muddy was the winner who just happened to be Kevin Hansel. Each round the line would get further away from the pit so they would have further to jump. Once they hit the mud they would wash off in Wagner Lake which was just about as dirty as the pit. But the kids had a lot of fun that day as for some reason boys tend to like to get dirty. Fortunately we had a lake close by for them to wash the mud off. The prize was $10.

Rope Swings at Wagner Lake

The Marion Boys Club got to use Wagner Lake each summer for two weeks as a resident camp and much of the activity revolved around this lake.  Aside from swimming, a rope swing was attached to a nearby tree where the boys could swing out and jump into the refreshing water.  Rowboats were also used on the lake for races and fishing.  There was a lagoon on the far side of the lake that for all purposes looked like the Everglades the farther one went into it.

We also had a jump the pit contest where the boys would jump over a mud filled pit and each session pushed the jumping line another five inches back.  As it was only one boy was spared the indignity of landing squarely in the mud by virtue of winning the event.  Fortunately for the boys, Wagner Lake was right next to the pit and ideal for washing off the mud.

I always liked this two-week experience each year.  The boys did too to get away from the club routine.  Mr. Wagner always paid us a visit each trip to encourage the boys to keep his land well. 

The Old Marion Boys Club

This is the boys club in Marion Indiana where I got my start in Boys Clubs of America. I was the educational director at this club. The club had a library, two game rooms, a concession area, and a TV room. After I left they added a gymnasium over the playground area. It was a great location and we serviced a lot of boys. I took camping trips to Salamonie State Forest and also to our property in Michigan. The club also utilized Wagner Lake for a Day Camp one week each summer. This is Big Bass Lake in Michigan and our pointe where a Hammock was located. It was a great four years at the Marion Boys Club.

McMillan and Bailey at Wagner Lake

The Marion Boys Club used a camp just outside the city limits that had a lake by the name of Wagner Lake. Just off the far shore there was a lagoon that was kind of creepy especially at night. Mike McMillan, the Assistant Director at the club, had planned to scare some of the kids coming down the lagoon by boat. One of the junior staff, by the name of Carl Bailey, was kind of nervous about the forest at dark. He and some of the other junior staff wanted to go out by themselves to scare the kids. That night Mike hung back at the main campsite along with me and the club director.

All of a sudden, the director, Marion Hall, and I noticed that Mike had disappeared. He had headed back toward the lagoon. As the junior counselors awaited the kids boat coming down the lagoon, Mike moved into position just behind the junior counselors. With a mighty growl, Carl Bailey shot forward right through the lagoon in front of the boat with kids and the rest of the junior counselors and Mike began rolling with laughter.

A soaked to the skin Carl Bailey never again joined in that kind of “fun” again choosing to stay back at the safety of the main camp. Carl learned one lesson that night. It’s one thing to scare someone and something else again to be scared by someone else. By the way, initially I think the kids in the boat thought it was bigfoot going through the lagoon.