Attention Parents: Do you wish there was a local place where your teen could hang out and have a good time, but would also give you the peace of mind that they are safe?
Attention Teens: Do you wish there was a local place where you could hang out with friends and do everything from eat, play games, watch television and more -- a place where your parents won't be worried sick about you?
St. John’s United Church of Christ in Nazareth has such a place.
The local church has organized a new teen hangout called “The Backdoor.” It’s a place where teenagers -- ages 12 to 17 -- can go to play video games, watch movies, play air hockey and foosball, and a whole lot more.
“The Backdoor” is across the street from St. John’s, in a house on S. Broad Street that the church owns. Normally the house is used for youth groups and is the home to counseling offices, but Marge Baltz, the youth ministry coordinator at St. John’s, thought the house could be utilized even more.
“I thought, 'Wouldn’t it be great if we could put this to some other use?'" Baltz said. "It could be good for the community. There’s really nothing after-hours in town for teens.”
Inside, teens will find five rooms complete with televisions, video game consoles, couches and chairs, air hockey and foosball tables, tons of board games and a full kitchen.
And in the near future, "The Backdoor" will make computers with Internet access available.
As of press time, “The Backdoor” is open every other Saturday from 5-10pm. The new hangout opened its doors to local teens for the first time on July 23. Those who showed up were treated to a cookout, games and a water-balloon fight -- the perfect way to beat a heat wave.
Every night "The Backdoor" is open, teens will be treated to a meal and snacks, which will be made right in the house's kitchen.
And parents needn’t worry about their kids while they’re at “The Backdoor." According to Baltz, the church has at least 10 committed adults -- all volunteers -- to chaperone the hangout. In addition to the chaperones, there are house rules prominently displayed in the kitchen.
Baltz stressed that interested teens do not have to be affiliated with the church to come to "The Backdoor." And forget about signing up ahead of time or fees -- just show up between the scheduled times!
“['The Backdoor' is] non-denominational," Baltz explained. "We’re just trying to create a safe place for kids to hang out. We’re fortunate that we have a little bit of money to fool around with, so we’re able to do this.”
Once school starts up again, the volunteer staff plans to keep "The Backdoor" open at least one night a week.
For now, however, "The Backdoor" is open every other Saturday, and will be open again on Aug. 6 from 5-10pm.
"The Backdoor" is at 201 S. Broad St., just across the street from St. John’s UCC.
But be sure to use the E. Prospect Street entrance to the house -- the green door facing the St. John’s parking lot -- because it’s called “The Backdoor” for a reason.