A Chronicle of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad
On an unprepossessing corner in the heart of Barrio Carlos (AKA the Carlsbad Village) that flooded in every rain, steps away from what would become the world-famous Morey Boogie Board Company, in a shuttered church so decrepit that the only thing keeping it erect were the proverbial millions of termites holding hands, was the tiny seed of a program that would transform the lives of youngsters in the newly incorporated City of Carlsbad, and ultimately transform the fabric of the Carlsbad community.
The program would grow and thrive. So would the more than 75,000 boys and girls who passed through the doors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad from its inception in 1952 through 2014, when this Chronicle was published. No child has ever been turned away due to inability to pay.
The Chronicle was commissioned by editor-in-chief Greg Nelson, a Lifetime Honorary Board Member who in 2008 was inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame. Proceeds fund the organization’s continuing operations.
Since many Club documents had disappeared over the years during multiple renovations and mishaps, the Chronicle relies primarily on the recollections of some 50 people who impacted and were impacted by the Club.
Greg states, “As someone who has benefited from and served as a major benefactor of the organization, I have been intimately familiar with this safe haven for kids from 1959 to the present. Because I strongly believe in this quintessentially Carlsbad organization, I wanted to make sure that its history, much of which is intertwined with the history of Carlsbad, would not be lost.”
BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF CARLSBAD CHRONICLE Anecdotes
Trust Me, Bruce!
Greg Nelson’s longtime friend Bruce Pahl recounted, “When the Club hit hard times in the mid-1970s, Greg Nelson was Executive Director while I was Board President. Greg would always come up with big ideas for funding and I’d caution him that we might not be able to pull it off. Greg would smile and say, ‘Trust me, Bruce.’ I did and next thing you know something successful like Bingo Night was taking off!”
Guidance Through Recreation
Decades after Doug Hall served as Executive Director, a successful-looking man in a three-piece suit approached him at an event. He said, “Do you remember me, Mr. Hall? When I was a kid at the Carlsbad Boys Club, I stole your cash from the Christmas tree sales.” Doug did indeed remember him. He hadn’t turned the boy over to the police, but he did recover the money and direct him along the right path. The man told Doug with a laugh, “I have a wife and three children now. I’m not into crime anymore.”
It’s All About the Kids
1993-2000 Board President Luke Matteson, who has been an active Board member since 1986, emphasized, “The Club is here for one sole reason: to serve kids. All children who wish to be here and participate. We never turn away any kid. The first day we do will be the day I am no longer involved.”