Make way for the Party Rangers
November 20, 2009
It’s the universal lament of teenagers in small communities across the nation: "There’s nothing to do in this town!"
When local parents hear the habitual wail, the first inclination may be to scoff at their teenagers’ lack of appreciation for Park City’s abundant cultural scene. But if you stop to think about it, how many arts, music and charity events are teen-friendly?
"There’s stuff to do during the day, but there’s nothing to do at night," explains Sydney Blake, a freshman.
Sydney and her older sister, Kendall, spend part of the year in California, regaling their mother, Karen Marriott, with tales of all the fun activities they stumble upon.
"I thought, ‘There’s no reason we can’t be doing those things here,’" says Marriott. She got together with another local mom, Leisl Simmons, and came up with the idea for the PC Teen Foundation (PCTF), a nonprofit organization with a mission to create and support safe, fun opportunities for teens.
"If you don’t give kids options, the tendency is to get into trouble," Marriott says.
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The first step was to launch http://www.pcteen.org , an online hub promoting teen-friendly events and activities. Marriott and Simmons combed through every resource they could find to create a master calendar of local happenings.
The next step was to assemble the Party Rangers, a group of students who were willing to plan, organize and execute activities for their peers.
"As moms, we can’t throw these parties ourselves – it wouldn’t be cool," says Marriott.
It wasn’t hard to find kids who wanted to flex their party-planning muscles. "We just asked them, ‘If you could throw any kind of party, what would you do?’" Marriott says. In no time at all, the group had compiled about six pages of ideas.
PCTF’s goal is to host two events per month – one activity and one dance – during pockets of time where nothing seems to be going on. The events are open to ages 14 to 19 from Park City and surrounding areas.
So far, the Party Rangers have organized a night games/freaky films night at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse and a G.I. Joe/G.I. Jane Dance Party at The Yard.
The Party Rangers plan the events with help and underwriting from PCTF. The students spread the word on Facebook, create videos for school announcements, send text messages to kids in their networks, and place flyers around town.
"It’s put on by the kids," said junior Blake Peterson last Saturday while setting up for the G.I. Joe/G.I. Jane Dance Party with fellow Party Rangers.
Since they are responsible for planning, promoting and hosting the events, the teens take ownership and feel invested in their success, Marriott notes. They also learn leadership, organizational and collaborative life skills.
Saturday’s event featured dancing and music by DJ Mac, an inflatable jousting arena, Xbox 360 games, ping pong and assorted snacks. Prizes were awarded for the best costumes and, aside from a small group of supervisors and security personnel, adults were not allowed.
PCTF-sponsored activities uphold the same rules as school functions, including no smoking, drinking, drugs, re-entry, promiscuity or foul language. What makes them more appealing to teens is that, "There’s no school in the title," said junior August Simmons.
Entry fees to PCTF events are $5 per teen, making the activities affordable for everyone.
The events also break down barriers by providing opportunities for kids from across the social spectrum. "It’s totally all-inclusive," says Marriott. "We throw everybody in a pot and they have a great time together. The common denominator is fun."
The organization plans to tie a community service project to the activities on a quarterly basis. On Saturday, the guests penned letters to PCHS alumni who are currently serving in the Armed Forces. At a Hideous Holiday Sweater Party to be held on Dec. 22, patrons will be asked to donate warm clothing items. "The biggest thing is doing something for the community," says Marriott.
PCTF has events planned through January and will continue to promote events hosted by other groups and businesses on its website. There’s also an idea to host earlier events for younger kids as the organization grows.
"I think it’s an awesome thing," said local mom Heidi Peterson, who was helping out with decorations at The Yard. "Our kids have so many opportunities for sports and other things – this is a niche that hasn’t been filled."
"It has serious potential to be really, really sick," said senior Peter Johnson. (That’s sick in a good way, for those of you who don’t typically interact with teenagers.)
For more information about PCTF and upcoming events, visit http://www.pcteen.org . Students interested in serving on the Party Rangers advisory board or parents who would like to volunteer or donate snacks, games and other items should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec. 12: Rock the Mic Night at Yellow Snow (9-11:30 p.m.)
Dec. 22: Hideous Holiday Sweater Party at The Yard (8:30-11:30 p.m.)
Jan. 9: Disco on Ice at the Park City Ice Arena (9-11 p.m.)
Jan. 30: Nerd Alert Dance Party, location TBA (8:30-11:30 p.m.)