My kids are of an age that sleeping in beats taking in a parade; and I’m of an inclination that hiking out at Iona beach beats jostling for a piece of curb to sit on for two hours.
That said, we all did get to the Salmon Festival — just separately and not until the afternoon.
On my way down, I walked past the lacrosse box just north of the Steveston Community Centre. I couldn’t believe the swarm of youth — literally hundreds of teens (my kids probably among them) all milling about. Community police officers on bikes stood at the periphery.
This was no Ferguson, Missouri; everyone seemed jovial, and there was a happy Canada Day energy in the air, and it built as the day wore on. How could it be otherwise, with that many youth all dressed up (I’ll say, they looked smashing in their red and white) and nowhere to go?
The cops were keeping an eye on things, but a few suspicious-looking Gatorade bottles still seemed to be making the rounds. And by the end of the night (surprise, surprise) a fight was brewing.
A couple of weeks ago, when we were doing a story for our Salmon Fest edition, we interviewed some Steveston business owners about the day’s festivities. While generally enthused, one owner mentioned the problem of huge groups of teenagers hanging around later in the afternoon.
I recalled being at the festival a couple of years ago and wading through a throng of teens, when a fight between two girls broke out. It lasted barely a minute, but it was sparked by the charged atmosphere.
I don’t mean to make this sound like we have a scourge of delinquent youth out there threatening the festival, but we might ask ourselves what we’re giving these kids to do. In past years, there has been a youth music stage and carnival rides. Neither of those happened this year.
Perhaps we should be coming up with some activities to engage them. Or, better yet, form a youth committee and see what they come up with. Then again, there’s something to be said for just hanging out. A lot of learning and social growth happens when us hovering parents back off.
Either way, the worst solution is to push them out and make them unwelcome. True, a hormone-raging swarm can be somewhat initimdating, but adolescence isn’t always pretty. In fact, it can be remarkably loud and obnoxious.
Regardless, these are our kids. They aren’t all going to volunteer for the church fair, and that’s okay. It’s on us to invite them in, give them their space, and maybe even enjoy their crazy energy.