La Jolla Community Recreation Group explores ways to give teens their space at Rec Center

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the local Recreation Center’s advisory board, is planning ways to attract more teenagers to the center.

Rec Center Director Jesse DeLille said during the group’s July 28 meeting that the center doesn’t “have really have any teen programming right now,” since teenagers often have “a lot more options.”

It’s more difficult to attract them to organized programming, DeLille said.

CRG member Jon Wiggins suggested a rock-climbing wall to attract teens. He later suggested a game truck — a trailer containing video game equipment.

DeLille said perhaps the Rec Center could host a teen night with a rented rock-climbing wall and other entertainment.

San Diego Parks & Recreation Department area manager Rosalia Castruita said “teen nights is a great activity. … We would have to have a group of teenagers that are interested and get their feedback on what they would like to see at La Jolla to start up a teen program.”

DeLille said he spoke with someone who could run a “DJ class,” which might be organized like a camp on weekday mornings.

CRG member Jill Peters said “we’re really trying to create spaces that teens might use at certain parts of the day and can be multi-age spaces. I think it is really important to try to find some space, if not activities, for teens.”

She said “the idea that we could get them together and give them space to play some games and do whatever they want would be great.”

DeLille said that if the Rec Center had “more like a passive area designed for teens to be able to use or hang out at instead of more organized programming, that might be a better way to attract them.”

CRG Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk said “it’s starting to sound like a fun place to be. Hopefully we can make these things happen.”

Other CRG news

Potential August social event: Following Coakley Munk’s question about whether the CRG should resume in-person meetings, the board is considering an August social event on the Rec Center grounds.

The group has had only online meetings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coakley Munk said the CRG is now allowed to meet in person, though she was unsure whether participants should be required to wear masks.

Coakley Munk asked board members for their preferences, adding that “we need to accommodate anybody who isn’t comfortable with the decision.”

CRG member Alan Dulgeroff said he thought the meetings should remain virtual due to the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“It’s probably better to keep meeting online for a while,” CRG member Jan Harris agreed.

Dulgeroff added, however, that “I miss seeing everybody in person, and I do think we should look for ways to connect … outside of [the] meeting … to build the relationships and engage. … Maybe gather up outdoors and spend a little time together to build the bonds.”

Coakley Munk suggested a bocce lesson at the new temporary bocce court at the Rec Center in late August, as the CRG does not formally meet in August.

Harris suggested expanding the event to include potential CRG members. “We’re always looking for a few new members, and we might start a tradition of having sort of an annual small social event where … we would … gather at the Rec Center and have some sort of refreshments and tour and talk to [people] about the programming.”

Coakley Munk said she would soon email CRG members about possible dates.

Current Rec Center activities: Temporary Rec Center Assistant Director Quinlan Olds said the center currently is hosting three different classes: a PeeWee sports class for ages 4-6, a virtual arts class and a sports fundamentals class for ages 7-9.

“The PeeWee sports class is doing really well right now,” with 12 children signed up for both the last and next sessions and a waiting list for the next session.

The Rec Center also is hosting a Summer Movies in the Park event at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 30, screening the film “Goonies” after sunset, along with crafts and an inflatable play structure, Olds said.

When asked how many people are using Rec Center amenities daily, Olds said about 40 children use the playground for smaller kids, while the larger playground attracts 20 to 30 children per day.

He said the pickleball courts are most busy from 8 to about 10:30 a.m.

DeLille said the bocce court “is starting to attract more people” and is most popular in the evenings with adults.

He said people who want to use the pickleball or bocce courts should call the Rec Center 15 minutes before they plan to arrive. “We can tell you if it is available, and if so, bring a photo ID. We’ll give you equipment,” he said.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22. For more information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆

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