Nothing to do

Pardon me as I grouse like a impatient adult who doesn’t understand teens. It is a Monday, after all.

Harbor Seal

I live in Santa Cruz County, California. We have outdoor and recreational opportunities galore around here: mountains, bike trails, and even mountain bike trails. There’s a huge ocean with world class surfing. This place is a travel destination with an amusement park and the usual collection of campy tourist traps. Beyond that, we have museums, libraries, a marine research center. We have 20 state parks in this second smallest county in California.

Santa Cruz County is home to exotic wildlife and habitat, with redwood forests and banana slugs in the hills, bobcats in the coastal scrub, sea lions along our beaches and tide pools, a kelp forest with curious sea otters just off shore, and migrating whales visible from the coast.

And yet, I still hear the universal teen lament:There’s nothing to do around here.

I know how it is — I remember as a teen that I’m supposed to be jaded about freakin’ marvelous things like whales, sea lions, roller coasters and other local attractions.


Santa Cruz teens

So it always thrills me to see teens with initiative who create their own entertainment. Last weekend, I saw a group of guys with shovels, rakes, boards and bikes who created their own freeride track to shoot video of each other doing jumps.


Santa Cruz teens

They weren’t smoking, drinking, stealing, or otherwise causing any kind of trouble. They’re just a group of guys out having a good time with their bicycles. They even did a little bit of trail maintenance on the way for access to their informal mountain bike park.

Cool, huh?

7 Comments

  • Siouxgeonz
    March 14, 2011 - 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Yup. Kewl.

  • March 14, 2011 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s awesome to see kids having a blast (and probably getting a bit of a rush as they push their handling limits – which incidentally are beyond mine!) just messing around on bikes.

    I volunteered at a Juvenile detention center (jail for kids) for a while when I was in college, and the excuse of “there wasn’t anything else to do” came up several times talking to pre-teens and young teenagers there. They did things that were illegal because they were essentially adrenaline junkies – and that was an “acceptable” way to get that rush in their peer groups.

  • March 14, 2011 - 4:50 pm | Permalink

    “acceptable activities” is a challenge, isn’t it? These guys I watched are obviously wealthy — they’re riding bikes worth several thousand dollars apiece. What do less privileged teens do?

    That’s why I’m thrilled to see programs like Baby Champ’s Scraper Bikes in Oakland as well. He make riding crappy junk bikes cool for inner city children, and uses these bikes as a creative outlet while also promoting education and responsibility.

  • March 16, 2011 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    If I had to make a guess that first rider ding the 360 tail whip is Tyler McCaul (sponsored by Trek)… They are professionals!

    But in the spirit of your post I’ve been to a few bike parks, pump tracks and illegal dirt jumps. The kids that look like punks to us old guys are actually really amazing. They are some of the best humans I’ve ever met. They take care of each other and welcome anyone into their circle who’s willing to make an effort. Their encouragement and willingness to help each other out gives me hope for the future.

  • March 16, 2011 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    If I had to make a guess that first rider ding the 360 tail whip is Tyler McCaul (sponsored by Trek)… They are professionals!

    But in the spirit of your post I’ve been to a few bike parks, pump tracks and illegal dirt jumps. The kids that look like punks to us old guys are actually really amazing. They are some of the best humans I’ve ever met. They take care of each other and welcome anyone into their circle who’s willing to make an effort. Their encouragement and willingness to help each other out gives me hope for the future.

  • March 16, 2011 - 3:26 pm | Permalink

    If I had to make a guess that first rider ding the 360 tail whip is Tyler McCaul (sponsored by Trek)… They are professionals!

    But in the spirit of your post I’ve been to a few bike parks, pump tracks and illegal dirt jumps. The kids that look like punks to us old guys are actually really amazing. They are some of the best humans I’ve ever met. They take care of each other and welcome anyone into their circle who’s willing to make an effort. Their encouragement and willingness to help each other out gives me hope for the future.

  • March 16, 2011 - 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Hey Chris,

    I don’t remember which was which, but the bike riders told me their names are Jesse and Liam.

    and yeah, these kids are good guys and, like you write, very open and welcoming even to old farts with cameras like me. they’re not showboating either — they’re just out having a good time.

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