JEFFERSON – A teen center in the township has been dreamed about for many years. The dream became a reality recently, thanks in part to two local stay-at-home moms, Kim Reid and Jill Small.
With the help of the township recreation department, the mayor’s office and money raised from the annual Wrobo 5K Run, Reid and Small helped open the Teen Scene at Camp Jefferson Friday, March 27.
“It’s great,” said Mayor Russ Felter as he watched groups of 12-year-olds run from the dance floor in the main hall to an adjacent building for pool, ping pong and video games.
According to Reid, the teen center is a place where the kids can “be a little nutty” and a place where hanging out with friends is an alternative to sports and school. That was evident on the dance floor, as groups of teens danced along to their favorite songs, singing at the tops of their lungs.
“Kids need a place to yell and scream and not get in trouble,” said Grace Rhinesmith, director of recreation. “There is a strong need (for the teen center)
for teens who don’t do sports.”
Reid and Small said they spent most of last year, three days a week according to their calculations, researching online and contacting multiple area teen centers to make sure they were on track to be successful.
The goal, said Small, is for the kids to be able to get together once a month, including through the summer months, and to grow the event to include as many middle school students as possible. According to Reid, 85 teens were pre-registered with another 30 or so signed in at the door. Registration is $10 per child for the year.
“We want to incorporate this into the middle school orientation,” said Small.
“Everyone has been very receptive to the idea,” she said. “People really want this to work.”
“Build it strong enough and have enough interest, hoping for the town to see the need for a physical building, that’s the ultimate goal,” said Rhinesmith.
At Camp Jefferson, two buildings were available for the kids including the main hall, which was decorated in a spring theme. There, kids enjoyed pizza, drinks and snacks, a DJ, a dance floor, a photo booth and tables for board games and crafts. In the adjacent building teens could try their hand at ping pong, pool or video games, or just hang out on over-sized beanbags.
A handful of adult volunteers were present, staying mostly in the shadows. The teens were lead by a group of peer volunteers, mostly sophomores from Jefferson Township High School, who were on board to “interact and facilitate,” said Reid.
“We want the parents to be in the background and the peers to be out front,” she said.
“I thought it would be a good way to help kids” said peer volunteer Anthony Howell, 15. “A good way to get to know the kids who might do this when they get older.”
All the peer volunteers were wearing the colors of the Character Counts program, each with a Character Counts words written across the back of the shirt.
“I thought I could make an impact on the kids,” said Connor Brown, 16. “This is a good way to let them have a lot of fun.”
Reid estimates the initial cost of the event at about $3,000. She believes each event going forward will cost between $250 and $500, unless there is a special event scheduled.
“I knew it was going to be really fun here,” said Shane Conley, 12. He said he and his friends—there were too many there that night to count—wanted to attend the event and that they were “running around like crazy.”
The next Teen Scene event is scheduled for Saturday, April 18 and will held at St. Thomas the Apostle R.C. Church located at 5635 Berkshire Valley Road in the Oak Ridge section of the township.
For more information on the Teen Scene contact Kim Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org.