The NEWS with Tim O'Callaghan

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer a good time for teens to volunteer

One Man’s View:

By Tim O'Callaghan

Wed, Jun 10, 2009 (2:52 p.m.)

lassvegassun.com

Graduation week signals the hot days of summer are on the horizon in Southern Nevada. This is the time of year when the excitement and glitter of the Las Vegas Strip lures many local teens with nothing better to do than hang out with friends in the tourist corridor.

The hot topic among local parents is the lack of available jobs for high school teens this year. Kids are finding themselves competing for jobs at most fast food and retail businesses with older job seekers. I've noticed the increase of retired folks now back in the job market to supplement sagging or diminished retirement income.

As a parent, I'm concerned about the amount of free time teens have on their hands this summer, leaving them vulnerable to so many negative influences. Many will infiltrate the adult pool party circuit, keeping resort security teams on their toes. This summer we will see an increase of kids going to the Lake Mead Recreational Area to hang out with friends keeping cool in the lake. A number of young people will head to the cool air of Mount Charleston for hiking, picnics and games of Frisbee on the high meadows.

Except for the resort pool parties, the activities are good clean fun until mixed with drugs or alcohol. This is the time of year we tend to see an increase in alcohol-related accidents involving teens.

There are plenty of things for kids to do in Las Vegas, but most of them are on the Strip. There is the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus, rides at the Stratosphere, the roller coaster at New York New York and other spots on the Strip. All of them require money, which for many is lacking due to the economic crisis and not having a summer job.

Again, all of these places are on the Strip, where there are loads of other temptations and trouble to be found by teens.

Even the price of a movie in the theater is getting out of reach for many. Last week, I took my daughter to a movie and was surprised the price had reached $10.50 per ticket. No surprise the movie industry is booming, but what bugs me is the news reports stating many people are heading to the theaters to escape their troubles for a couple of hours. I may have mentioned that in a previous column.

The rub is with so many folks heading to the theaters, why are the prices so high? Sure, it's good ole American capitalism, but it seems to be leaning toward gouging.

After mentioning this to a few acquaintances, I'm finding many are waiting for major hits to come out on video.

Anyway, what I'm alluding to is the fact that many of our teens will have plenty of time to get into mischief of every degree, magnified by the lack of cash flow.

What I'm suggesting is turning some of that time into something useful, such as volunteering at a local nonprofit, animal shelter, hospice, hospital or church organization.

Volunteering has many benefits, such as building confidence and self-worth. Many young people need to develop interpersonal and communication skills needed in today's world. This can happen by volunteering. Keeping a regular schedule will help your teen establish the practice of discipline.

No, it's not going to put any cash in their pocket today, but it will pay off over time with experience gained.

Interested in getting your teen involved or perhaps yourself? A few places to start looking are:

Opportunity Village
839-4756
6300 W. Oakey Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
www.opportunityvillage.org

The Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada
1660 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Phone: (702) 892-2321
www.volunteercentersn.org

Las Vegas Catholic Worker
500 W. Van Buren Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89106
(702) 647-0728
www.lvcw.org

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular blog at tocomv.blogspot.com.