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Remember when we were Teenagers?

By Sheryl Smigelski

I am the Mom of three boys, the oldest is 15 and we have discovered that there really isn't much to do for teens in this area.  We thought we didn't have anything to do when we were teenagers. Our kids really don't have anything to do.  They can't even ride their 4-wheelers (being mindful of property lines and wearing safety gear) without getting trouble, they are stopped by the police and chased. 

So what do you remember about being a teenager, what did you do?  I remember going to the movies, but that is expensive now.  We're open to ideas for our kids.

Gary Diegelman

Join 4-H there are many clubs that I am sure would spark the interest of any youth. Join Boy Scouts. They can learn to become leaders and have fun in the outdoors.
All my kids grew up this way and they did and are doing very well in school. The only way anyone would be stopped by the police would be if they were on the roadways. By the way my kids didn't have atv's and snowmobiles.

Jun 25, 2009, 7:02pm Permalink
Kelly Hansen

Cub Scouts and now Boy Scouts has proved to be of great benefit in our family. Musical instruments/lessons and active church involvement are also very important. Open swim at the Y is much cheaper than a movie ticket and much healthier, too. Boys need to be physically active - hiking, jogging, bicycling.

Jun 25, 2009, 7:46pm Permalink
James Renfrew

I spent hours and days playing pick-up baseball or kickball games in the street, touch football in the side yard, exploring the creek and woods, riding my bike, delivering newspapers, playing golf (I even made my own 9 hole course for a pitching wedge around the yard when I couldn't get to the real course), earning money cutting other people's lawns, swimming at the Kiwanis park in our town. On rainy days we played marathon monopoly games. I don't recall ever spending time in front of the TV duuring the day. There was summer camp, and youth group adventures at the church. All of this without any established park areas near our home. If I could do it all over again, I'd spend as much time as possible playing musical instruments (back then I hated practicing). I'm not saying it's easy to do these things - I think parents today have a much heightened awareness of dangers lurking out there that my parents never had - but it may help for parents to actually initiate and model these activities. Good luck!

Jun 25, 2009, 9:18pm Permalink
bud prevost

I was involved in theater, both at school and community. I also liked hanging out and jamming in basements, attics, garages, warehouses..anywhere we could be loud and get away with it! lol :)

Jun 25, 2009, 9:25pm Permalink
Katie Elia

Check out the programs at the local library! Richmond Memorial is offering great classes and a reading program for kids, teens and adults this summer.

Jun 25, 2009, 10:07pm Permalink
Doug Yeomans

There isn't much to do here? Since when? I remember as a kid complaining that there was "nothing to do" but I never heard my mom agreeing. As a 46 year old adult, I now realize how much I actually had to do as a child.

Have kids and parents forgotten how to play outside or something? I think kids have more options now than when I was a kid. As suggested by James Renfrew, why not play a myriad of different types of ball games, WORK, volunteer to do lawn mowing or cleanup for people who can't do it for themselves, etc. Teaching children that feeling fulfilled doesn't always mean that they need to be having "fun". Doing things for other people and seeing how happy it makes them can be very rewarding.

If you read the safety tag on every ATV (I've owned 2 of them and ridden many) it says no operators under 16 years of age so why are your kids riding them if your oldest is 15? Believe me, I'm not against riding ATV's at any age but if they're being chased by the cops then where was the parental supervision and why were they riding where they weren't supposed to be? Also, if they're being chased, why did they run?

You revealed a lot about yourself by opening this post for discussion. It sounds as if you'd rather the kids had something to do all day so that you don't have to do things with them. Maybe "you" should do things "with" them like taking hiking trips on the foot trails throughout the area. Bring along a picnic. Introduce them to endless worlds in books. Reading is a great way to expand the young and not so young mind. Puzzles, word games, crosswords and math games can be fun and they'll even make your brain work better. Take up a musical instrument. Music unlocks creativity and emotion.

I've got a great idea, plant a huge garden! Growing things that you can actually use to enable you to live is a great way to spend a summer. Plant a whistle tree. I planted one when I was about 6 and I'm still waiting for that thing to grow.

Whatever you do, don't allow them to sit in front of the computer all day playing games and chatting with friends or people who they might not even know. Chatting with peers should be done in person while playing OUTSIDE. Online time by any child should be supervised and no child should have a PC in their own room.

Jun 25, 2009, 10:11pm Permalink
Lorie Longhany

I feel bad for the kids today. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that they're experiencing the kind of fun that we had.

Growing up in LeRoy in the late 60's early 70's we experienced an active childhood that I wouldn't trade for the world. Like Jim -- we NEVER watched TV. We did have a great, organized community rec program and participated in the morning playground activities that included some memorable craft projects -- plaques, tile ashtrays for our mothers (all our mother's smoked), boon doggles, pot holders, etc. In the afternoons we rolled a can of pop up in a towel and took the bus to whatever location happened to be that year's swimming hole -- Call's Pond, Timberline, Horeshoe Lake, Batavia City pool. That is until LeRoy built our own municipal pool and then we biked to it. The bus trips were loads of fun. We sang all the great songs on the bus ride home -- 100 Bottles of beer on the Wall, On Top of Spaghetti, etc.

When we weren't engaged in the organized activities that our village provided we had our own organized neighborhood activities -- softball games (sometimes we imported from other neighborhoods for some fairly good size teams), hide and go seek, hop scotch, Mother may I, TV Tag, races around the house (a great endurance test) and lots more.

We also went fishing behind the post office -- mostly to catch carp that we carried home in a bucket and let go in the stream behind our house. We caught polliwogs and put them in dishpans and watched them loose their tails and grow legs. We built some pretty impressive forts in the woods.

The rain brought us in for team monopoly matches (like Jim said), Scrabble, Yahtzee or we went to the library to nose around the stacks.

We also made the rounds to all of our older neighbor's homes. Sometimes to help them with a trip to the store or yard work, but more often than not it was to fulfill our own needs. Each had a different and unique treat to pass out -- caramels (twisted so we wouldn't choke) from Mrs Hahn, Club Crackers from Mill Kelty (who was blind and would feel our faces to tell all of us apart) Sugar Cookies with a raisin in the middle from Aunt Mattie. Young and old, everyone in the neighborhood was connected.

While our mothers were all home, we were left to find and make our own fun. We only went in to eat. There wasn't a lot of parental supervision or parental involvement. Our parents weren't neglectful, that's just the way it was. We made all our own fun and yes, sometimes we got into a little trouble.

There was no need to import or export activities, no need to be driven any place -- we had all the fun we could ever hope for within our own neighborhood.

We also had mini bikes. We had trails in the woods behind our house. Probably dangerous by today's standards, but it sure was fun.

I do apologize for the lengthy comment. I just started recalling all the wonderful memories.

Jun 25, 2009, 11:35pm Permalink

"Whatever you do, don't allow them to sit in front of the computer all day playing games and chatting with friends or people who they might not even know. Chatting with peers should be done in person while playing OUTSIDE. Online time by any child should be supervised and no child should have a PC in their own room."

That is the single most naive comment I've seen posted on this website to date.

Jun 26, 2009, 3:09am Permalink
Victoria Rippel

ok speaking as a former teen at the very old age of 22 now, i do feel bad for kids. its hard from a couple different ways- 1st sometimes kids that dont care as much mess up the good things for kids. 2nd you all brought up some great things if you get your kids into them early by the age of 13 sorry to say but most of the kids i know dont want to join clubs. 3rd this isnt a problem just here it alot of places i here tons of people in college talk about how there is nothing for them to do.

the most important things is to get them involed young, which i have mix feelings about, but really its the only way.

as for what i did growing up-went to the movies, took dance classes, watch way to much tv (yes very true) as soon as i got my car i was driving to buffalo as much as possible to go shopping and go to teen clubs.

Jun 26, 2009, 8:41am Permalink
Bea McManis

When I was twelve (oh, so many years ago) I wanted a new bike. In the spirit of teaching me a valuable lesson about earning the money myself, I spent that summer working at my uncle's studio during the day and baby sitting for my sisters at night while my parents both worked at Batavia Downs. My mother was a waitress in the club house, my dad worked on the mutual line. My 'pay' for babysitting was a percentage of my mother's nightly tips - which wasn't shabby even back then.
Little did they realize that my day 'job' would teach me far more than they expected.
On my first day my uncle sat me down behind the counter and told me that I wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the people on the other side. A simple lesson but one that I've held sacred during my entire adult working life.
I loved working in that dusty studio that is now just a memory thanks to urban renewal. So much so that I continued there after school and every summer during my high school years.
The only day I had free was Sunday. As a teen, Sunday afternoon and evening was spent with friends. . If I were alone, on a Sunday, you'd find me climbing the plum tree behind the garage - a quiet place to spend the afternoon reading.
Oh, and I did buy that bike at Adam Millers at the end of that first summer.

Jun 26, 2009, 9:23am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I'm sitting here listening to Pat Weissend on WBTA's Main & Center talk about the summer programs for kids at the Holland Land Office Museum -- that's a great thing to do. Children should learn local history.

Jun 26, 2009, 9:51am Permalink
Tyler Hall

I like the suggestions everyone is putting, but the put-down's don't seem necessary, Doug.

I don't even know Ms. Smigelski or where she is from. Never met her in my life. I don't know what you were inferring with your fourth paragraph. However, as a son who is aware and proud of his mother's unconditional love, I find your comments very offending. I'm sure you, Doug Yeomans, did some things that weren't entirely legal back in your day forty years ago. Mrs. Yeoman's might have even asked one of her lady friends about possible things for her little Dougie to do. Either of those likely possibilities certainly don't mean that Mrs. Yeomans didn't want to do things 'with' her son.

I view Ms. Smigelski's post as a genuine attempt made by a member of our community to figure out things for her children to do. With both of my parents working 40+ hours a week growing up, I had to find things to do on my own sometimes. That can be said for other kids in my neighborhood. Up until a certain age, I rode my bike to Stafford Rec. Had a good time too. Woke up every morning nice and early, road my bike home for lunch. Road to Calls Pond in the afternoon. That is until they closed it down for being a swamp. After those years died out, I started taking online classes at GCC at mowing a boat load of lawns. Started early and saved up for a car.

And to be completely honest, I did have some fun that probably could have gotten myself into a little bit of trouble. Nothing police-blotter noteworthy. However, that's what a childhood is about. It's about finding things to do, hanging out with new crowds of people, learning what to do when put in different circumstances, learning some responsibility and self control.

You know, responsibility and self control? As in, having a computer in my own bedroom. God forbid. It's going to happen sooner or later in a person's life. That is of course if you plan on your child going to college and moving out of your house. And sooner or later they are going to have to figure out time-management and what has to be done. Even the dangers of the world like predators. I had a TV and a computer. My parents didn't ban me of those things because of the evils that they possessed. I learned not to sit there all day. When nine o'clock hit and the sun went down, I'd come inside, watch a movie, fall asleep and do the same exact thing the next day. When I wanted to know about the Cowboys or football, I'd go onto the computer. When I wanted to organize a ball game or something, I'd get on instant messenger and plan something.

Now of course, I guess you can put your dog on a chain all day. Take the tv and computer away. Breathe down his neck from sunrise to sunset. Force him into joining certain groups that he doesn't want to be. But at one point in time, that dog's rope is going to come off of him. Will the dog run for the road and get hit, or will he have learned from his owner and walk around the yard responsibly?

Jun 26, 2009, 9:55am Permalink
Tyler Hall

Bea.... great story. Honestly, I learned so much from working at a young age. Start around 12 myself. Gave me an undying value for a buck, that I still hold today. Like you, I had a goal of getting a bike as well. Unfortunately, it was a motorcycle and not a pedal one. Every morning, I would wake up really early. Go to work. In the afternoon, I would work under the hot sun. But at the end of the day, I was that much closer at reaching my goal. I think that was the changing point in my life when I found the many benefits of having personal goals. To this day, I still set daily, weekly and long term goals for myself. Sometimes they change, but it still makes everyday and experience worth while.

Jun 26, 2009, 10:10am Permalink
David Dodge

"Whatever you do, don't allow them to sit in front of the computer all day playing games and chatting with friends or people who they might not even know. Chatting with peers should be done in person while playing OUTSIDE. Online time by any child should be supervised and no child should have a PC in their own room."

Has anyone read the book _The Catcher in the Rye_? Sometimes, we try so hard to prevent young people from experiencing things because we don't want them to get hurt. This is natural because obviously no one wants to see anyone else in pain. However, if people do not let children experience things then they will not know or understand what boundaries exist in the world. Of course, things should be done with caution, but to actually sit there and say you shouldn't allow children to use the computer to communicate with people is an attempt to be the catcher in the rye.

Jun 26, 2009, 11:08am Permalink
Bea McManis

I just talked to my Michigan son and posed this question to him. He commented, somewhat dryly, "the reason we were out of the house early in the morning and didn't come back in until sunset was because we didn't have central air!".
He added that a kid isn't going to sleep the day away or spend it indoors, in the summer, when it gets over 85 in the house.
"..when we were older, we would go on long bike rides to fish in a stream.", he remembered.
Of course, he doesn't remember the summer he had to spend in summer school - ahem.
They also kept busy with the school band which still held practices in the summer and marched in every firemens' parade.
Each of the kids had summer jobs...this one worked on the muck topping cabbages and onions; worked at Pontillo's; read water meters; and had a paper route as well.

Jun 26, 2009, 11:13am Permalink
George Richardson

At about age 10, myself and several friends dug a grave size hole three feet deep in a weedy lot behind the house across the street and we covered the hole with an old door and dirt. We crawled in through a tunnel passage and sat in the dark smoking cigarette butts that we took from our parent's ashtrays. You might not want to recommend that to your kids, but it sure was fun.

Jun 26, 2009, 11:29am Permalink
Sheryl Smigelski

I am not looking for something to keep my children occupied. My husband and I both work full-time and we also run a farm. We have a huge garden. What I was referring to is that we have a 15 year old boy who is asserting his independence. What we are looking for is something for him and his friends to do that will keep them out of trouble or from creating a situation where they will pay the price for the rest of their lives.

Jun 26, 2009, 11:42am Permalink
George Richardson

Have him and his friends go to the Ramble and get psyched up so they will want to learn an instrument and start a band. It's a chick magnet that most boys already know about. I always fancied the tamborine myself. I still wear bell bottoms, they are going to be cool again and when they are it will be because I never lost faith.

Jun 27, 2009, 9:22pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Sheryl, a guitar and lessons would indeed be a great idea. Music is mind expanding, socializing and can breed confidence. Roxy's Music would be a great place to check out the opportunities and options.

Jun 27, 2009, 9:30pm Permalink
Lori Ann Santini

As a parent I see that there are alot of things that my kids will never be able to enjoy that I did as a kid. My parents used to let us ride our bikes all over the countryside without fear. I can't even let my little kids out of the house without worrying about horrible things happening to them. My husband and I both work full time plus jobs therefore we can't raise the livestock my parents did. We do have a garden that they enjoy working in all the time. I have them reading as much as I can. They also have chores that they must do around the house. In lieu of that they sometimes get a treat. I refuse to give them an allowance for doing necessary tasks around the house. We all must pitch in.

The few things that I might suggest could really help you out. First, get them interested in cooking. You stated you work. Help them plan out meals that they can make that will not only speed up your day but give them confidence later down the road. Girls really enjoy guys that are able to cook a good meal. (I always know when GCC is back in session when the tones go out over and over again for smoker detector activation. Clearly those kids could have used a few more lessons. lol) Secondly, they can volunteer for a whole number of organizations or just help the neighbors. I would highly suggest trying the neighbors first to see if you have any elderly "friends" that could either use help around the house or yard. There are alot that would simply just love company for a period of time. Mowing lawns is a great way to not only help but get exercise. Nothing looks better on a resume then volunteer work or great references from people who appreciate a job well done.

The animal pound is always in need of help. Fire Departments often have junior level programs. Others were named above. There was a posting for volunteers at the Red Cross. There are also big brother/sister programs all over. The list could go on and on.

Kids bore too easy nowadays because they are used to having all the newest and funnest gadgets. They don't know how to entertain themselves the old fashion way. We give them everything. We are failing them in the long run. They won't understand that you have to work to get ahead. (No one is going to bail you out forever unless it is the government.)Let them earn their keep. In the longrun you will be making a person that is ready to take on the world and has the ability to do it.

Jun 27, 2009, 10:58pm Permalink

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