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Article 021700 - Where Have All The Teens Gone?

 

  Its sad to see the decrease in numbers of Preteen and Teen Square Dance Clubs.  There was a time when there were clubs all over the Northwest with 30 to 200 members in each one.  That was only about 20 years ago.  Now we are lucky just to have a few clubs with 2 squares.

Snoopy Swingers - Preteen

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Advisor Explains

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Teen Competition

Advisors Looking On

What can we do?  What has changed?  What did we do wrong?

  Well here is some observations and ideas that might help.  When we were calling for the Snoopy Swinger and the Teen Swingers in the 80's.  We treated advertising like a business.  We went to the school administrations and got permission to send flyers home to the kids thru the elementary schools.  We had to do the printing and go to each school and count out fliers and stick them in the teachers boxes.  It was a pain, but over 100 kids would show up the first night of lessons.

  Our fliers were modern and not traditional hoedown looking information.  They were informative and fun.  We didn't push Square Dance indicate or beliefs, we taught them that after we got them started.  We also have, and still do, "The Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival", which is a competition held every year in Washington or Canada.

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  This competition, held each year, really was a great seller of square dancing to teens.  It has all the makings of the stuff kids really like.  Goals, excitement, travel and glamour. It was a great tool to teach kids hard work and vision.  They had to learn how to practice and to learn how to win and lose.

Teen Swingers - Teen

  We also did many events like dancing for nursing homes, City Markets, TV Shows and special events at Malls.
But here is the commitment from us, The Adults.

  To run a Preteen or Teen Square dance club takes all you got to give.  Most of the time Teen clubs are Caller ran.  Some like the Mavericks of Washington are Advisor/Teen ran clubs also. The reason for this is due to so many events, competition and dealing with parents.  There must be a focal.  Parents want to be informed, and want a person in charge, at all times.

That brings us to the next demand:

When you have a Teen club, you do not just deal with kids, those kids have parents.  So for each child, you really gain 1 or to more parents to deal with.  So communication becomes very important to the success of a Teen club also.  And patents.  Sometimes parents do not understand that you are just a volunteer.

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Awards Won

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The Caller/Cuer:

To Call and Cue to kids is unique to say the least.  You must be open minded, let the kids play some and you must be a very strong "All Position Caller" to be able to compete in the Teen Competition each year.

  Your calling must address preteens hesitation to dance with girls and boys, and must be fast pasted.  Kids like up beat music and clever calling.  Do not let them get bored, or let your club be predictable.  Each dance should be a adventure.

Teen Town Twirlers 1987 - 1990

  Kids will also bring you long and lasting memories.  Most good, some bad.  You will be required to be a mentor.  Not all parents are there, and some have problems.  You must be understanding and patent.  Teach life with love, understanding and mental support.  Be a roll model.  The kids will remember you all their lives.  Some will even contact you 20 years from now.

So what's the benefit from all this torture? Good Citizens

As a former Preteen Caller and Teen Caller, I live with the satisfaction that my adult advisors at the time, and myself, touched the lives of 100's of kids in a positive way.  We laughed, cried and worried about them all.

Some were troubled, and found square dancing to be an escape from negative problems of home and school.  Many discovered their talents, and abilities by escaping shyness and gaining friends that were positive influences.  Teen Square dance groups are peer groups worth joining.

What can we do?

  The 21st century sure has made things hard.  People are busy, worried and tired.  Yet all parents want the best for their children.  I know, I do.  I have 3 Teenagers right now.

  Some of us must decide to become a Preteen/Teen Caller, Cuer and Advisors.  We must support children square dancing not just for the square dance community, but for the whole community around us.  Most kids will dance till their 20's and move on, only to return to it in their 30's, after they get a taste of life.

  But remember, you helped them enter the world with positive ideas and solutions that will be with them all their lives.  I think that rates pretty high on Gods list!  Please support our Teens.  Thanks

By Rob Scribner

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