A week ago, we volunteered for a trip to YMCA Camp Crosley in North Webster, Indiana for some working dives. Camp Crosley has been hosting summer camps up there by Lake Tippecanoe for over 100 years. Many Hoosiers have spent part of their childhood at the camp and remember it fondly. We were happy to help out any way we could but it turns out that this day they needed divers!
Ben and I loaded the truck Friday night and went through it all, making sure we had everything. We needed to be up by 630 so we could get stop for food before making the two hour drive north. With everything ready, we went to bed a little early.
The sun was out and the temperature was already rising as we pulled out of the driveway. The trip was easy. All highway. I had never been before so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the camp. When we pulled in, Mike Guard was waiting in a folding chair for the rest of the group to show up. He was listening to the Beatles and soaking up the sun.
After a stretch, I walked over and introduced myself to Adam, the camp maintenance lead. Adam is one of those guys who is a wizard with all things mechanical and hands on. Anytime I’m in a new place, if I can find the person in charge of facility maintenance, I get my tour from them. They know every square inch and the history behind every feature they’ve been entrusted with.
Adam gave me a brief rundown of the plan but said we’d have a quick meeting when Tom showed up with the rest of the divers. Before long, Tom pulled in and we began the process of hauling gear to the covered picnic area just off the beach.
Tom and Adam gave us the rundown. The goal was to find concrete anchors sitting on the bottom and attach lines to each. The anchors are used to keep the inflatable goodies on the surface in place while kids scramble around on them during camp.
Tom assigned tasks to each dive pair. One person on each end of a guideline stretching across the lake. Two divers would run a search pattern on the bottom, tethered to the guideline so they wouldn’t lose their way. Ben and I were assigned the job of diving the anchors that were already marked with buoys. We would dive down and attach the new lines so the old ones could be replaced another day.
Ben and I donned our drysuits and headed to the beach. It was sunny and warm. One of the first really warm days so far this year. We flopped down in the shallow water and pulled on our fins before we swam out to Tom in his kayak. He gave us a couple coiled ropes and we surface swam to the first buoy.
Camp Crosley dyes the water to make it look nice and it’s a beautiful baby blue. Visibility was still awful though. Recent rain and fresh load of sand on the beach made for a fine silty haze in the water. Maybe four feet as we went down, then two inches on the bottom. It was bad. Like put your gauge on your mask lens to read it bad. The lines had spring clips so at least they were easy to attach by feel. Removing the old rusty ones was nearly impossible though, so we left the majority of those in place. All in all we did our part. Given the conditions, we weren’t able to locate all the markers. Several of our group are going back to finish the job when the silt settles out.
We packed the gear and rolled back to the homestead. It was great to get some diving in and work on underwater skills in a tougher environment. It’s nice to be able to use the skills we’ve been practicing to help out and give a little back while making us better divers. If you get an opportunity to do some working dives, we highly recommend it. They are a great way to give back to your community and gain some unique experience. We know you’ll learn something that will make your recreational diving even more enjoyable.