BRE RIETVELT PHOTO | Island kids on a Youth Center-sponsored indoor rock-climbing trip.
Some Island groups and organizations tend to slow down or stop entirely during the summer months while other activities move center stage, but that’s not the case with the town’s Shelter Island Youth Center, according to its director, Ian Kanarvogel.
His schedule of events, summer programs and trips geared toward 5th through 12th-grade students is designed to forestall the inevitable complaints of “I’m bored” and “there’s no place to go and there’s nothing to do” from kids, especially Island kids who don’t always have easy access to the same entertainment and amusements as their mainland counterparts.
Because he grew up here, SIHS Class of 2005, Mr. Kanarvogel knows what Island life can be like, and in an interview last December, he said that even though he played sports, which kept him busy, “For the kids who didn’t, they were kind of stuck.” He tries to keep them busy so they “don’t go crazy,” he said.
In the nine months since he stepped into the job, he’s discovered that the Youth Center is work, but it’s also play and that’s fine with him. He likes bowling with the kids and playing basketball. It’s just another perk that comes with the job that has lived up to his expectations “more than 110 percent,” he said on Tuesday, a few hours before taking some high school kids over to Westhampton to attend a college fair.
Last week he took students on a group rock-climbing excursion, a regular activity, along with movie nights. Coming up soon is a trip to a Long Island Ducks game.
The majority of the off-Island trips, he said, are geared toward the high school kids. He has tried off-Island excursions with younger students, but has found that those activities work better with the older ones. However, there are plenty of Youth Center events and activities for the kids in the lower grades who choose to participate, he said. It’s a place to hang out after school several days a week, and a “consistent 30 or 40 kids show up on Friday nights at the Youth Center or Saturday nights for open gym at the school, ranging from 5th graders on up, though he’s established different time frames for different age groups, depending on the day and activity.
Most of the kids who drop in at the Youth Center or go to the open gym are from 7th to 9th grades, he said, adding that the 9th grade is a large class. He has a few 11th and 12th graders, but not many, he said, adding, “You lose them once they start driving.” There are some 5th and 6th graders, too, most often siblings tagging along with the older kids.
We have regulars, he said, but the doors are open to every kid on the Island and that certainly includes any vacationing and summer kids. They’re welcome to come by and sign in. “The more the merrier,” he said, as long as he has the necessary parent or guardian permissions.
For the summer, Mr. Kanarvogel and Youth Center staff member Meaghan Derby have tentative plans for more rock-climbing excursions, a visit to Splish-Splash water park and some go-cart riding. And, then there’s always old-fashioned “hanging out.” The events are updated in the Reporter’s “Happenings” section.
For dozens of Island kids and visitors, the Shelter Island Youth Center may be the perfect antidote to “I’m bored, what’s there to do?”