Life’s Better Here: Steuben County

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 9:18 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - If you’re hanging on to the last days of summer, just not wanting it to end. There’s no better place to do that than the county with over 100 lakes, Steuben County.

There’s just as many activities to do as there are lakes in Steuben County. One of the most unique activities is stand-up paddle boarding.

Kelly Bailey started SUP 101 Lakes on Crooked Lake ten years ago, moving back to the lake after living in Miami, Florida. It’s an activity she’s done since her time in the sunshine state, but it took some getting used to for locals.

“When I first started ten years ago, {it was} very unique. I got a lot of “what are you doing with a surfboard on a lake. Like what is that?” So, a lot of people didn’t know what I was doing ten years ago in this area, but it has grown a lot.”

Now, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can rent paddle boards by the hour and each rental comes with a free lesson.

If you’re looking for a leisurely time on the lake or a workout, stand-up paddle boarding could be for you.

“Life is better on the water and it’s an easy way to get out on the water. It’s not too expensive. There’s no gas with a paddle board, you just have to paddle. On a calm day, it’s a nice, relaxing sport. On a windy day, you get a pretty good workout.”

LEARN MORE about stand-up paddle boarding at SUP 101 Lakes

Bailey says she enjoys sharing the sport she loves with the community she grew up in.

“Anytime that I can share the passion of the sport with anybody else, it’s great, and I love to have new people that come out and paddle board. For first timers, like I said, I like first timers because there’s no bad habits. I can teach you the right way to stand up the first time.”

If you’re looking for something fun to do that’s not dependent on the weather, there’s no way you can miss the mark at the home of archery tag, the GEM Center in Ashley, Indiana.

In 2008, John Jackson started designing bows for his own use. Then one day, he and his engineer co-worker had an idea of a foam tipped arrow, and then the Global Archery Company, and archery tag, was born.

“It wasn’t a simple as putting a piece of foam on a pointed arrow, we made a, think of a Hersey’s kiss,” Jackson said, “We had a 3-D printer, we printed that up and put a piece of foam on it. I shot him in the gut and he bent over in pain. We thought, alright this is awesome.”

Archery tag is similar to dodgeball, except with foam tipped arrows and bunkers to hide behind. On Friday nights, anyone can come to the GEM Center and pay to play archery tag.

TAKE A SHOT at some archery tag at The GEM Center

You can also do some target shooting, or just relax in their event center. Businesses can also rent out the facility for team building exercises.

The company expanded their business, selling their products to companies and groups throughout the world, and are even associated with helping children with rehab after an injury.

Then with the pandemic, the archery tag league came about, which Jackson says has helped area kids become more comfortable with who they are.

“We’ve got kids that could come in here that doesn’t like sports, they’ve been bullied. They just didn’t really want to do anything, they weren’t athletic. We get them in here, we teach them the basics on how to shoot. We get them out on the field and they’re a little bit shy and awkward at first, but then the transformation is incredible,” he said.

Jackson says you may see archery tag in other places throughout the country, but it won’t be the same as it is as the home of the sport, in Ashley, Indiana, saying “this is where you’re going to get the best of the best. No one does it like we do it.”

Copyright 2022 WPTA. All rights reserved.