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Oklahoma City's Crystal Lake is now more lake and less dump

It has gotten a face-lift and could be an outdoor sanctuary for inner city kids
by Ed Godfrey Published: June 16, 2012

Crystal Lake was a dumping ground.

Tires. Cars. Roof shingles. Mattresses. Even a dead man was dumped at the lake two years ago.

The old sand pit near SW 15th and MacArthur had become a spot for drug use and other illegal activity

“It was kind of creepy, really,” said Oklahoma City bass angler Steve Wise, who works nearby and often fishes at Crystal Lake. “When it got dark, it was time to get out.”

But that was before City Care, a nonprofit organization that cares for the poor and homeless in Oklahoma City, started overseeing the lake.

With the help of Oklahoma County crews and local businesses, City Care is giving Crystal Lake a major face-lift.

Larry Bross, executive director of City Care, wants Crystal Lake to be an outdoor haven for inner city kids, a place where they can go outside in the summer and learn to fish, shoot a bow and how to identify wildlife and plants. The pilot project is called City Kid Outdoors.

“It's going to be outdoor educational, not recreational,” Bross said of the project. “We are not going to have a basketball court. We are not going to have ropes course. It's my hope to keep this primitive.”

City Care is very familiar with the struggles that face many children growing up in the inner city.

Through its Whiz Kids program, City Care helps inner city kids learn to read by providing one-on-one tutoring.

More than 1,400 volunteers from 57 churches, including about 900 tutors and mentors, are the backbone of City Care, which works with 26 public schools.

While many children who live in the suburbs go to camps in the summers, kids in the inner city don't have the same opportunities, said Bross, who hopes to organize a day camp for inner city kids this summer at Crystal Lake.

Bross is very familiar with Crystal Lake because it is where City Care holds its end of the year celebration for the Whiz Kids each year. In recent years, it grieved Bross to see how the lake became a dump.

Last year when Oklahoma City officials were looking for someone to manage Crystal Lake, Bross had an idea similar to one that his friend, Larry Stinchcomb of Big Bass Charities, envisioned for the lake more than a decade ago.

In the late 1990s, Stinchcomb, the charity's executive director, obtained a long-term lease at Crystal Lake. The Oklahoma City sportsmen planned to develop the Crystal Lake Outdoor Heritage Complex, a place where underprivileged youngsters could learn how to fish and gain other outdoor skills.

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
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...
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Archery tournament

What: 20 target 3-D shoot

Where: Crystal Lake

When: June 23-24

Cost: $15 for first round and $10 for additional rounds. Ages 12 and younger shoot free.

Books open at 8 a.m. both days and close at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tournament benefits City Kid Outdoors.

For more information, call Arrowhead Archery at 670-2697 or email

For more information on Crystal Lake, call 826-4735.


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