NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Outdoors chat: Ed Godfrey talks with Larry Bross, executive director of City Care, from H&H Shooting Sports Complex

NewsOK Sports 11:28 a.m. Ed Godfrey: We will be getting started in a few minutes with Larry Bross, executive director of City Care, which now operates Crystal Lake in Oklahoma City. City Care has made many improvements to an inner city lake that once was basically just a dumping ground. City Care hosts summer camps for inner city kids at the lake and later this month will be having a Family Outdoor Expo.
NewsOK Sports 11:32 a.m. Ed Godfrey: First off, I would like to thank Larry for joining us today. The Family Outdoor Expo originally scheduled for this weekend has been postponed until June 21-22. Why did you decide to postpone the event?
Larry: With an 80 to 90 percent chance of rain Saturday and Sunday, we figured it was pretty much a washout like last year. Last year it rained us out so we didn't take a chance of that happening again this year.
NewsOK Sports 11:33 a.m. Ed: What are some of the activities that will be going on at the Expo in two weeks?
NewsOK Sports 11:37 a.m. Larry: We are going to have archery, volunteers from Arrowhead Archery and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will be coordinating that. The Wildlife Department will have dock fishing. There will be fly fishing instructions and fish simulators for kids. The Boy Scouts will have many things such as campfire building, a monkey bridge, Dutch oven cooking, the bird watching groups, taxidermists, ax throwing, a kayaking course on the lake. So there will be many things experience. Food will be served by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group.
NewsOK Sports 11:39 a.m. Larry: We want to introduce people to Crystal Lake and we want to further are inner city youth programs which entails getting those kids in the outdoors. Crystal Lake is 15 minutes from the inner city so it's a perfect place for those kids to experience the outdoors close to home. The kids who attend our camps have few other opportunities to do this kind of thing.
JamesRobert 11:39 a.m. Where exactly is Crystal Lake and how big is it? And how accessible?
NewsOK Sports 11:41 a.m. Larry: It's an 87-acre lake, south of I-40 on SW 15th off of McArthur. It dead ends west at the river. You get there going south on McArthur from the Interstate then west on 15th and it dead ends. It's open the public from sunup to sundown. You can reserve the lake through City Care for events. We've put $178,000 in improvements at the lake in the last two years. We have a large pavilion and restrooms and more than 100 trees we have planted.
NewsOK Sports 11:42 a.m. Ed: Talk about the clean-up efforts out there?
NewsOK Sports 11:44 a.m. Larry: With Brian Maughn, District 2 county commissioner, and his SHINE program, we picked up 2,200 tires, a hot tub, two abandoned cars and numerous truckloads of trash two years ago. We picked up enough shingles to fill a dump truck. The lake now is fenced off with security and looks totally different from two years ago when City Care took it over.
NewsOK Sports 11:44 a.m. Ed: How did City Care end up managing the lake? What is City Care's arrangement with Oklahoma City for that?
NewsOK Sports 11:46 a.m. Larry: We were given a five year contract to manage the lake to maintain the lake with security and maintenance with the provision that we can close the lake for any special events. MAPS III soon will be coming around the north side of the lake so you will eventually be able to get on the trails system at Hefner or Overholser and go to Crystal Lake and then to the Oklahoma River. It's really going to be a very neat experience for the public.
NewsOK Sports 11:48 a.m. Larry: We were able to keep the west side of the lake primitive for 3D archery tournaments at hiking. We have archery platform at the lake for those who hunt who want to sight-in their bows and we have a target range. It's also open to the public. For more information about that, you can contact Jeff Steele at Arrowhead Archery.
Brett N. 11:49 a.m. I really think it was an innovative idea to bring the Outdoor Expo to Crystal Lake. How or why did City Care take on the project of renovating the lake area?
NewsOK Sports 11:50 a.m. Larry: We were grieved with what we saw out there. It was something that had so much potential to be a benefit to our city. Every year we would take our Whiz Kids tutoring group out there and we wanted to keep it from being an eyesore.
Carl B. 11:50 a.m. What do you think children take away from their experiences with hiking and fishing? Have you received any feedback or seen results with those who participate?
NewsOK Sports 11:52 a.m. Larry: The kids we take, many of them have never caught a fish before. If you can remember the first fish you catch, it's such a thrill. Inner city kids see an urban environment every day they wake up. Out here they can experience nature and have outdoor education. We feel this helps with creativity, self-reliance. There are several positives from exposing inner city kids to the outdoors. There is a great book called No Child Left Behind that talks about how important it is to reconnect with nature anyway we can. That's what we are trying to do.
Johnathan P. 11:53 a.m. How do you use outdoor activities in your programs? Is the main focus on kids?
NewsOK Sports 11:55 a.m. Larry: Our focus is mainly on kids but the lake is open to the public. We have been involved with the Whiz Kids program for 19 years so our primary focus is urban kids. Whiz Kids is an elementary tutoring and mentoring program that focuses specifically on reading. It's one on tutoring for inner city elementary kids from Title 1 schools, which are schools that offer free and reduced price lunches. We work with 30 schools now and have 1,400 volunteers working with about 900 kids,
NewsOK Sports 11:57 a.m. Larry: We feel this important because 74 percent of our elementary kids in Oklahoma City our reading below proficiency and some states determine prison size by fourth grade reading failure. If a kid cannot read the chance for success is severely diminished.
Janette R. 11:57 a.m. What is your personal connection with the outdoors? Do you enjoy hunting, fishing or other recreational sports best?
NewsOK Sports 11:58 a.m. Larry: I grew up hunting in El Reno but my fishing is mainly spear fishing and scuba diving which I have done since 1963. I love the ocean. That's where I like to hunt.
NewsOK Sports 11:59 a.m. Ed: And Larry, if people remember, played football for OU in 1967-69.
NewsOK Sports 12:00 p.m. Larry: Coach (Barry) Switzer is a strong supporter of City Care. Steve Zabel and I actually started City Care 20 years ago. He was an All-American teammate of mine who played 10 years in the NFL. He just retired as City Care's director of development.
NewsOK Sports 12:01 p.m. Ed: Last call for questions.
NewsOK Sports 12:03 p.m. That's it for today. I will be doing another chat the first Friday in July.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›