Saturday, November 12, 2005
I recently attended the community forum on underage drinking. A lot of talk was about a teen center and how having one would be an asset to this community. Steamboat already has teen centers: We have the schools. The middle school and high school are both underutilized. There could be a lot more school-sponsored activities that give our children something to do in a non-threatening environment.
Two things Steamboat might consider are the use of parent chaperones and sports programs such as broomball and midnight basketball. Parent chaperones allow activities to happen without asking more from our over-worked teachers.
One of the high school students made the comment that they didn't think kids would want their parents there watching them slow dance. First, parents aren't there hovering over kids' shoulders. We are talking to our friends and other teens and filling the chip bowl. If a parent is making teens uncomfortable, just take them off the chaperone list. Intergenerational gatherings are a positive thing. We are as likely to be embarrassed by our children as we are to embarrass them. Being there keeps both groups on their best behavior and opens a dialogue for the car ride home.
Second, for those kids who aren't "into" dances, sports can keep kids off the street and out of trouble. Recently, more than 60 high school students met at the ice rink for a broomball tournament. For $3 a student, everyone had a good time, and most importantly, it gave them something to do for three hours on a weekend.
Another idea is midnight basketball. It is used by many middle and high schools around the world to keep kids off the street between 8 p.m. and midnight. They can play pickup basketball or volleyball or just cheer from the stands. Googling midnight basketball generated more than 66,000 hits; it is a proven success across America and would most likely work here in Steamboat.
Teen centers may be a great idea, but Steamboat doesn't have one. What we do have are the facilities and volunteer manpower to give our youths safe places to go and alcohol-free, fun things to do on the weekend.