A hidden gem in rural Clinton County, Camp Cullom will welcome guests to its annual Open House and Chili Dinner on Saturday at 6815 W. Co. Road 200 N. in rural Clinton County.

While activities such as hiking down the prairie grass habitat trails or disc golf on one the top courses in the state can be enjoyed throughout the day, the chili dinner and silent auction will be from 4:30 p.m. to 7 at a cost of $10 for adults, $5 for children between the ages of 5 and 12 and free for children ages 4 and younger.

The Clinton County Foundation of Youth was formed as the result of a trust agreement in 1947 and has been overseeing and protecting Camp Cullom ever since.

“It is an important event for us, and it celebrates the beautiful season change out at the camp,” said Russ Kasper, a CCFY board member and member of the Wabash Valley Astronomical Society. “It is owned by the children of Clinton County. The people who are generally behind the scenes are the board of directors of the camp. The board of directors of Camp Cullom come from different groups like Kiwanis, Rotary, Optimist Club, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Lions Club, Sonka, the Boys and Girls Club and at-large members as well.

“It is a 90-plus acre camp,” Kaspar continued. “We (have the open house) in early October because not only are the stars in good shape, but also the foliage. You can come out and play disc golf. They also have noodle or no noodles available (in the chili). There are usually some Frito Lay products and hot dogs too if they last.”

All proceeds go back to the operation of Camp Cullom.

“It all goes to the maintenance – everything from insurance and tractor maintenance to Hoppy’s (Hoppy Bray) compensation as the ranger, electricity, pump inspections,” Kaspar said.

Once the dinner ends at 7 p.m., guests will be welcome to check out the Prairie Grass Observatory.

“If it is clear, we will be observing Venus, Saturn, Jupiter,” said board president Andy Schilling. “As it gets darker, we can start going for some deep sky objects, globular clusters, open clusters and nebula.

“The camp is open all day,” Schilling added. “There is disc golf in the morning. There are the trails. They can walk around the prairie grass through the woodland down along the stream – just get out and enjoy nature. Later in the afternoon, we will start with the chili serving until 7 p.m. and then the observatory will begin after that. We will have chili, hot dogs and smores as part of the dinner. Then we will do observing afterward at the observatory.”

Prairie Grass Observatory will have four telescopes in use Saturday night – a 28-inch Dobsonian telescope, a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a 7-inch apochromatic refractor. They also have a large pair of 25/40x100 binoculars.