It is not easy to be a teenager these days. School, family and even sports pressures are intensified by our fast-paced multi-media society. Thoughts, rumors and actions are instantly relayed via text messages and Internet sites, and youth are spending more and more time on cell phones and in front of television and computer screens.
Whatever happened to good old-fashioned recreation: bowling night and roller-skating parties? Both are alive and well in Martinsburg at Morrisons Cove Memorial. But these are not your mom and dad's nights out.
The park prides itself on having provided wholesome family fun for all ages since 1921, but is making a special effort to reach out to the next generation with a stylish new staff hoping to make the park the place to be for teens on Friday nights.
"I think kids of all ages need a safe place to go, even if they don't realize it," said Roseanne Conrad, executive director of Morrisons Cove Memorial Park. "Where they can hang out and be kids, be loud, blow off some steam in a safe environment, and that's what we try to offer."
The drug-, alcohol- and smoke-free environment is now home to events like "Rock-n-Bowl" on Friday and Saturday nights, an event for all ages, but a particularly good hangout spot for youth to socialize, grab a bite to eat, listen to great music and roll a few games.
Club Sk8 is a teen (ages 15-19) roller skating and dance party every Friday night through the winter months. Don't expect to rock out to old 70's music and a disco ball.
"The kids would think they're in a big-city club, with lights that pulse to the music, lights trailing on the floor, laser lights on the ceiling, it's really cool,"?Conrad said.
The drink "bar" features fruit smoothies, and the glow sticks and Mardi Gras beads are also a hit.
Perhaps most importantly, the Club Sk8 roller skating/dance nights get the kids moving, whether on their feet or on wheels, they're using more than their text-happy thumbs to socialize with each other.
"This is recreation, not sport, and I think if they start at a young age dancing or skating, shooting hoops or walking, they feel so much better physically and mentally," Conrad said. "Plus, they meet new people in a non-competitive environment; it's very healthy and creates good habits."
This Friday night, Club Sk8 admission is free, and with the teen's support of the new events, the park eventually plans to make upgrades to the skate and dance facilities, including the installation of overhead video monitors.
Morrisons Cove Memorial Park has provided year-round recreation for all ages for generations, and is committed to continuing that mission for today's teens.
Healthy and fun recreation that used to be groovy in years past is now Da Bomb.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.