‘Teen Nights' Becoming A Popular Activity


Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Miller is always looking for something to do.

But living in Payson -- a place that she described as "a quiet little town with a lot of old people" -- can make that venture challenging.


Best friends Stephanie Miller (front left), Alyssa Wilamowski (front right) and Leah Turner (behind them) swim in Taylor Pool as part of the Parks and Recreation Department's new teen nights.

Even with places like the batting cages, bowling alley and miniature golf course, Miller said she feels "there's not much for teens to do."

Miller, a Payson Ranchos resident who will enter the eighth grade at Rim Country Middle School this fall, said that she spends most of her time with friends, just "hanging out."

Miller's mother, Linda Smith, said that Miller and her other three teenage siblings are constantly searching for activity while her 9-year-old brother has more than enough to do.

"I have four teenagers and a 9-year-old, and I can always find something for the 9-year-old to do, but the teenagers have a harder time," she said. "As for activities for teenagers, there is just not a lot for them in this town. And I see a lot more of them get into trouble because of it."

That's where Michelle Beach, events and activities coordinator for the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, comes in.

After talking with a few other recreation departments in the country, Beach devised what she calls "teen nights."

The teen nights are held every Tuesday at Taylor Pool in Rumsey Park. There, teenagers swim, play games, win prizes and maybe even more importantly, stay out of trouble.

"It gives them a safe, fun, supervised environment," Beach said. "Parents have actually called and said their teenagers have had a good time. We've been getting some calls to see when it is and what the theme is."

Themes range from Hawaiian and retro to "Survivor" and "Proud to Be an American."

Beach said about 24 teens participated in the most recent teen night, Tuesday's retro-themed "Austin Powers" shindig. She hopes to have more take part in the future.

"We would like to double that number," she said. "It gives them a venue to come out, have a good time and hang out with their friends."

Beach said the teen nights are what make her job great.

"That's the best part of my job: actually organizing events such as this," she said with a smile. "I like to see them have fun. Once you've worked so hard to organize it all, and you see the kids enjoying it, that's satisfaction right there."

Beach added that the games -- ranging from "Lifesaver relay" to "Hoola Hoop Hand-off Relay" --re what make the nights so enjoyable.

"I watch them play the games and usually something pretty funny happens," she said.

Tuesday night's lifesaver relay is among the funniest games Beach has organized, she said. In the relay, teenagers have to transfer lifesavers to one another with toothpicks in their mouths without using their hands. The team with the most lifesavers in the end, wins. Beach said two particular boys had the hardest time of the challenge.

"They just couldn't do it," she said laughing. "They were puckering their lips ... It almost looked like they were kissing!"

Miller was one of the teenagers who went to Tuesday's teen night and even won the lifesaver relay with her friends, 13-year-old Alyssa Wilamowski and 12-year-old Leah Turner.

Miller said the teen nights have given her and her friends something to do.

"They're fun," she added. "They have games and a place for only you and your friends to hang out. (The event's organizers) know how to have fun and not sit back and be boring."

The next teen night will be at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 1. "Proud to Be an American" is the theme. The last teen night will be July 22.

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