By Amy Poore
Here's a dessert option that's sure to please, and best of all? It's easy. What spring gathering would be complete without carrot cake? This super moist carrot pineapple cake is a new twist on an old favorite. It’s packed with flavor and yes, I use baby food to make it so moist (it absolutely works).
Spring has finally arrived, and it’s the perfect time of year to sit outside on the porch in the morning, enjoying a cup of coffee and one of these fabulous blueberry streusel muffins. Grab a few quiet moments of solitude and treat yourself – it’s worth it. This recipe is one you'll enjoy making for years to come.
Enjoy the spring, and bon appétit!
Hey there, parentals: Are you at the end of your spring break rope yet? You’ve taken the kiddos to the beach, to the zoo, to the aquarium, to the park (multiple times) and zip lining – and you’re out of ideas? Fair enough. It happens. With a chance of showers creeping into the forecast for folks throughout Alabama – from Huntsville to the Gulf Coast, I thought this might be a good time to provide a brief rundown of some movie offerings, specifically some of the best kids movies on Redbox, and more. Because hey, it’ll keep the little ones occupied for a bit, and provide you with some much-needed quiet time. And the disclaimer: Some of these films are better for youngsters, while others are better for the tweens or teens set. Use your finely-honed parental radar to ensure age appropriateness.
Here's a wrap up of a few of the biggest and best Easter egg hunts coming up in the Tuscaloosa area. Time to grab those Easter baskets and get out to enjoy these events!
UA Panhellenic Association Egg Hunt
The UA Panhellenic Association will be hosting their annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 29, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the President’s mansion.
Children ages 12 and under are invited to come out and hunt for Easter eggs this coming Sunday. There will be plenty of photo ops with a visit from the Easter bunny and face painting stations. Refreshments will be provided by Bama Dining, the event will go until 4:00 pm or until the last egg is found. Parking is available behind sorority row, for more information visit www.uapanhellenic.com.
Junior Belles Easter Egg Hunt
The Junior Tuscaloosa Belles are proud to announce the return of the annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 29 from 3-5 p.m. at the Battle-Friedman House and Gardens. This is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to spend time with old and new friends and neighbors at one of Tuscaloosa's premiere historic houses.
This year our Easter Egg Hunt features games and prizes, visits with the Easter Bunny, refreshments, and a petting zoo from Tuscaloosa Barnyard. Following the Hunt, we will have a raffle for the adults. It's fun for the whole family! Please bring your own basket. Admission is $5 per adult; the first two children are free – and it’s $2 for every child after.
First Wesleyan Church presents EasterFest, a city-wide celebration on April 4 from 10 a.m. to noon at Snow Hinton Park. Each year, this event has grown – and now, thousands participate. People from all walks of life, from all over Tuscaloosa can come enjoy all sorts of fun activities for free.
Now in its seventh year, EasterFest is are once again expecting around 4000 people to come and enjoy free family fun. Well over 300 volunteers work to make this day happen. More than 25,000 eggs will be a part of the largest Easter egg hunt in Tuscaloosa. There will also be games, inflatables, a rock climbing wall, live music, free food, a petting zoo and more.
The Easter egg hunt begins promptly at 10:30 a.m., and parental supervision is required.
By Allison Adams
Ah, the sounds: buzzing bees, boats in high gear across the glassy water working hard to warm itself in the sun. And as I write this, a different buzz of the Blue Angels as they prepare for their weekend show.
Spring brings with it thoughts of hope, revival, and change.
The bulbs I planted in the dead of winter are now peeping their way through the still-cold soil. They didn't wait to see what the weather was going to do. They knew, as designed, that it was time for them to burst forth and push their flowers to the surface.
Perhaps God knew how these cold winters might drive us nearly to the breaking point, offering little hints of life throughout the trees so that we might "hang on" for warmer weather.
Rooted trees planted deeply into the soil are now displaying tiny caterpillar-like buds of color on the once smooth, ice-like limbs.
Spring is upon us, and after the winter we have had, I too am relieved that I can get outside more and spend less time in front of the fireplace (although that has its perks too). I pull out my Pinterest boards, which I notice, even when perused during winter, share ideas for open, cool, spring-like spaces. Hours of daydreaming in front of my iPad of colorful changes I might add to our decor are evident - and inspiring.
It is spring when we put away the heavy, furry blankets. It is also the time "spring fever" occurs, making us ready to go, to do, to make a move, and to splurge! I, as a Realtor, have been eagerly working to help change-seekers find their match.
Spring is when I get most inspired to write and paint. The same scenes of winter begin to change; They take on a new life, color, and movement.
Spring is when we start making plans to hit the lake, a beach, a park. It’s also the time we possibly panic about the quickly approaching bathing suit weather, spurring us to hit the outdoor running trails in addition to the gym.
Spring is when festivals beacon us to enrich our minds, our walls, our stomachs with new things.
On April 11, there are a number of great excuses to get out and proclaim your stake in spring. Runners: Join the Will May 5K Run, which this year will be at Sokol Park in conjunction with The Tuscaloosa Association of REALTORS Bark in The Park at the Will May Dog Park.
On that same day, The Druid City Arts Festival is going to be in full swing, with art, music, food and plenty to get you inspired for spring.
Get your shorts out of the bottom of the drawer, pull out your flip flops, grab your dog (they’re washing dogs for a world record at Bark in the Park, and couldn’t “Fido” use a good bath?) and get ready to have some spring fun.
Be sure to open your windows all the way down and celebrate life, spring and creativity before the April rains begin to fall.
And I hope you will come see me at the DCAF and see what spring has inspired me to create!
Blessings from Lake Tuscaloosa,
Photo: Allison Adams
A monthly editorial piece of masterful opinionated writing (insert joke here) regarding life and times in the big town of Tuscaloosa coupled with the musings of a guy nicknamed “Oz.”
When it comes to the everyday tasking of raising girls, I like to believe that the Missus and I evenly distribute the wealth even when it comes to determining outfits and the styling of hair.
Admittedly, she is far superior when it comes to matching tops and bottoms andfar more intelligible when it comes to girlie fashion trends (Confession: I thought “chevron” was just a gas station).
But the better half of our Dynamic Duo of Love is an accountant, and when tax season hits, the resident authority on little girl fashion and etiquette is spending long hours at the client office. As a result, Mr. Mom is resurrected.
Although there is always room for improvement, I believe my ponytail skills to be quite advanced. And I see nothing wrong with some sparkly jeans and a bedazzled shirt everyday of the week.
What I did not grasp early on was the importance of the underpants. And as the girls get older, panty style apparently becomes an integral part of an outfit - even though nobody sees it.
Attempting to understand this logic is an act of futility, like trying to explain why my underwear is categorized as “gross,” even when clean, and their underwear is considered “cute,” even when dirty.
Regardless, problems demand resolve.
The older daughter’s issue was quelled with relative ease. Through a secret, back-room deal with a nice lady at Target I was able to secure the “day-of-the-week” panty pack, which included an unwritten manual on which panties to wear on any particular day.
This solution is only complicated when the “Wednesday” panties get lost in between the washer and dryer, or when the “Friday” panties get put in the wrong drawer. Subsequently, an APB is issued, and a search party is dispersed to find the fugitive panties.
The little girl selection is a bit more involved and is most likely enhanced due to the buffet of characters available. This includes, but is not limited to: Dora, Sophia, Doc McStuffins, Peppa Pig, and of course Anna and Elsa.
Trying to figure out women is one thing. But attempting to discern the mood of a four-year-old girl through panty character selection on a daily basis is impossible. The circumstances surrounding the factors that lead to the decision of “Today is a Dora kind of day!” is a case study in itself.
The resolution is obvious: We must eventually scale back the menu. But for this tax season, the battle of the underpants is on. My money is on Elsa, at least for tomorrow.
I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and daughters Savannah and Anica.
Photo: Sony Pictures
The West Alabama Leadership Prayer Breakfast is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14. This marks the 17th year for the event, which will be held at the Bryant Conference Center on the University of Alabama Campus.
The Prayer Breakfast was established in 1999 as follow up to the Franklin Graham crusade and seeks to stimulate, enhance, sustain and nurture Christian leadership in the public and private sectors of Tuscaloosa and West Alabama. The Prayer Breakfast committee is comprised of local marketplace and spiritual leaders.
This year’s keynote speaker is Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, author of God Less America and Dispatches from Bitter America.
Doors will open at 6:30 a.m. at the Conference Center; the program begins at 7:15 a.m. and will last until 8:30 a.m. A full breakfast buffet will be available for all guests. Individual tickets are $25.
The annual “Stand Up for Autism” fundraiser for Arts ‘N Autism is set for this Thursday, April 16, at the Bama Theatre. Arts ‘N Autism is a Tuscaloosa after-school program and summer camp for children with autism spectrum disorder, and “Stand Up” is one of the group’s largest yearly fundraisers.
As a local organization, Arts 'n Autism provides a support system for children, adolescents and young adults in the Tuscaloosa community with autism spectrum disorder, and their families. Program director Voni Wyatt says fundraisers like this one allow the organization to provide financial support as well.
“We have never turned away a child, who qualifies for our program, due to inability to pay. Thursday's event will be filled with fun and laughter but most importantly will provide an opportunity for Arts 'n Autism to share about what we do, why it is so important and how you can help.”
Comedians Tim Statum and Deno Posey will perform at “Stand Up for Autism,” along with local comedian Brad Fisher and Max Karrh, who will emcee. Statum has a southern style humor and incorporates real life stories of growing up in the country with classic stand-up comedy. Posey brings his own unique brand of humor that is hilariously relevant and reverent. He points out the funny side of everyday life that we all experience, but seldom talk about. Fisher and Karrh are members of the Tuscaloosa Comedy Group and have been entertaining Tuscaloosa audiences for years.
The doors open at 6:00 p.m. with food and a cash bar. There will be a silent auction and raffle along with entertainment by the band Sweet Kick. The Comedy Show will start at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets are available online at www.artsnautism.org and at Tuscaloosa Flower Shoppe, Hudson Poole Fine Jewelers, Downtown Gallery and Confetti Interiors. For more information call (205) 247-4990.
Listed are a number of great options, from local camps to regional camps and even some summer camps out of state that area kids regularly attend.
Local Specialty Day Camps:
Academy of Ballet and Jazz: Open all summer. Instructor Susu Hale Prout. Ages 18 month to adult, Mommy and Me, Preschool, and intensives. For more information, call (205) 752-5124 or visitwww.danceabj.com.
The Dance Centre: One-week workshops beginning June 2. Little Princess Camp, ages 3 to 5. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., June 15-19; Camp Radio Disney, ages 6-9. Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., June 22-26; Frozen, ages 3-5. Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., July 13-17; Summer Intensive Workshop, ages 6 and up. Saturday - Wednesday, June 6-10. For more information, call (205) 752-5354 or visit www.thedancecentre.net.
Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre and Theatre Tuscaloosa’s Theatre Camp 2015: June 15-26 in the fine arts center on Shelton State’s Martin Campus. In this day camp, classes are offered from 8 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for children who have completed kindergarten through 11th grade. Session topics will include acting, dance, singing, improvisation, audition, stage makeup, and technical theatre. Registration is limited to 18 students per age group and is conducted on a first-come-first-serve basis. Visit www.theatretusc.com to download the registration form. Class descriptions, instructor bios, and class schedules are also available. Or call the ticket office at (205) 391-2277 for more information.
Northridge Fitness Kid’s Strength Camp: Three days per week. Ages 11-15. Principles of proper body mechanics, developing core strength, and weight lifting safety. For more information, call (205) 752-1201 or visit www.northridgefitness.net.
Tiger Rock Martial Arts: Six days per week for Martial Arts classes and four locations. Limited number of spots for a “Train All Summer” program. For more information, call (205) 759-4711 (Tuscaloosa), (205) 339-7071 (Northport) or (205) 343-6449 (Hillcrest).
Bama Bounders Gymnastic Camps and Classes: Gold Star Camp, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., ages 5 and up; Silver Star Camp, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., ages 5 and up; Bronze Star Camp, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., ages potty trained to 4 years. Early Bird Special - sign up and pay deposit by May 15th for June Camps and June 19th for July Camps. For more information, including specific camp dates and activities, call (205) 722-2436 or visit www.thebamabounders.com.
NorthRiver Tennis Summer Camps: May 26-29, June 22-26, July 6-10, July 20-24 and July 27-31. 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. This camp is open to children ages 5-14. For more information, call (205) 343-4558.
Tuscaloosa Tennis Center Summer Camps: June 1-5, June 8-12, July 6-10. 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m (M-F). These camps will teach all students the basic strokes and footwork for tennis success in a fun filled learning environment. The student/teacher ratio will be 5/1 to ensure that each student gets individual instruction. Ten and under balls (red, orange and green dot) will be used for younger campers in order to have early success. Snacks will be served to all students. Cost: $150/week for members, $165 for non-members. To register or for more information, please call (205) 331-0211.
University of Alabama Sports Camps: UA offers a number of different camps and clinics for sports enthusiasts. Baseball camps Crimson Tide Experience Elite 40: June 28-30 Cost $850. For more information visit www.collegebaseballcamps.com/bama. Other sports camps include Cheer/Dance Camp, Nick Saban Football Camp, Gymnastics Camp, Soccer Camp, Softball Camp, Swimming and Diving camps, Volleyball Camp and more. For more information on UA’s many summer sports camps for kids, visit www.rolltide.com/camps/alab-camps.html.
All Fired Up Summer Camp: Sessions are May 26-29, June 9-12, June 23-26, July 7-10, July 21-24 and August 4-7. For kids who love crafts, this camp offers a week of fun morning sessions (Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m. to noon) that allow them to create many different and interesting projects. Cost: $150 for the week; $40 per day. For more information, call (205) 343-0015.
Brushstrokes Summer Art Camp: Monday-Thursday for two weeks (2 hrs daily). For more information, call (205) 657-0199 or visit annsbrushstrokes.com/summer-camps.
All-Around Camp Fun
Summer Explorations 2015: Six two-week sessions beginning on May 26 through August 15. Ages 2.5 to 18 years. Morning classes: 8 a.m. to noon and afternoon sessions 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Tuition: $200 for 40 hours. For more information, including specific activities and session dates and schedules, call (205) 758-2828 or enroll online at www.thecapitolschool.com.
Crazy Daze of Summer: Children’s Hands-On Museum (C.H.O.M.), downtown Tuscaloosa, Nine weeks of fun, including: kids karaoke, dueling basketballs, skee ball, air hockey and more. For more information on activities and schedules, call (205) 349-4235 or visit www.chomonline.org.
Tuscaloosa Barnyard Summer Day Camp: All ages. Learn about life on the farm away from TV and video games. Activities include: taking care of animals, boat rides, fishing, games, farm movies, hayrides, pony rides, horse training, arts and crafts, games, and learning about nature. Slow paced environment. For more information, call (205) 248-0773 or visit www.tuscloosabarnyard.com.
YMCA Summer Day Camp: Ages 4-14. Daily from June 1-Aug. 5, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Field trips, swimming, sports camps, arts and crafts, and more. Cost: $65 per week per child; part time is $35 per week (any three days). For more information, call (205) 759-4284 and ask for Children’s Director Lachanda Wallace or Curtis Pickard.
The Community Music School (CMS): The University of Alabama School of Music. All ages and all levels of musical ability. Classes taught by faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as community professionals. Private and group instruction available for a wide variety of instruments. Kindermusic program for children ages birth - 7 years. For more information, including rates and dates, call (205) 348-6741.
Crimson Music Camps: Jazz Improvisation and Marching Percussion Camp: June 11-14.
For more information, call (205) 348-6068, visit bands.ua.edu/programs/crimson-camp.
Sylvan Learning Center: Writing, mathematics, study skills, and specialty classes for state exams available. For more information, call (205) 345-7676.
Tuscaloosa Library Summer Reading Programs: All ages. All activities are free. Activities include: juggling, summer safety programs, magic, storytelling, animal programs, movies, and more. For specific dates and times, visit www.tuscaloosa-library.org or call (205) 345-5820.
Camp Horne, Boy Scouts of America (Black Warrior Council): Cottondale. Three one-week sessions of Boy Scout resident camps are offered in June, followed by two Cub Scout resident camp sessions. For more information, visit www.bwc-bsa.org or call (205) 861-4496.
Camp Cottaquilla (near Anniston) and the Kanawahala Program Center (Chelsea), Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama:Resident camp and day camp programs available. Resident camps begin in late May. Prices vary, depending on the type of camp. For more information, call (800) 734-4541 or visit www.girlscoutsnca.org/camps.
State and Regional Camps
Lake Forest Ranch Interdenominational Christian Co-Ed Camp: Shadow Lake, East Central Mississippi (less than two hours from Tuscaloosa). All ages. Activities include horseback riding, wild ride water rube, low and high ropes course, basketball, gym games, tennis, beach volleyball, swimming, fishing, canoeing, boating, archery, frisbee golf, game room/arcade, paint ball course for teens, and Bible studies. For more information call Rick Malone at (662) 726-5052 or visitwww.lakeforestranch.com.
McWane Center Summer Camps: McWane Science Center, Birmingham. All ages. Weekly camps run from June 1st through August 7th. Full-day and half-day camp sessions are available. For more information, call (205) 714-8414 or visit www.mcwane.org/learn/kids-family/camps/2015-summer-camps/. Registration begins in May.
Riverview Camp for Girls: Mentone (located on the former Saddle Rock Camp for Girls campus). Ages 6-16. Sessions run from June 7-July 31. This Christian camp features cabins with bathrooms and showers. Photos are downloaded each day of campers. Mother-daughter weekend in August. For more information, including session dates, call (800) 882-0722, visit www.riverviewcamp.com.
Camp Laney: Mentone. Boys, ages 7-14. Sessions run from June 7-July 31. One- and two-week sessions available. Cost $1,600 (one week); $3,000 (two weeks). Tuition includes: Chartered bus trips, cabin photos, arts and crafts, canteen snack store, golf trips, rock climbing trips and more. For more information, including session dates, call (256) 634-4066, visit www.camplaney.com.
Camp Skyline Ranch for Girls: Mentone. Ages 6-16. Sessions run from June 7-July 31. Costs range from $1,828-$3,398. Camp includes: arts and crafts, horseback riding, swimming, archery, dance, and other activities. For more information, including session dates, call (800) 448-9279 or visit www.campskyline.com.
Photos: Boy Scouts of America Black Warrior Council, UA Museums - Moundville Archaeological Park, Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority and Porfirio Solorzano.
If you’re looking for a great way to enjoy a round of golf and help give back, the Eagles’ Wings 9thAnnual Golf Tournament is this week. Proceeds from this tournament benefit this area non-profit, a local organization which offers day rehabilitation for adults with special needs.
The golf tournament is set for Thursday, April 23. Spots are available for individual players and four-person teams. There is an a.m. and a p.m. flight.
And if golf isn’t your thing, the 10th Annual Dinner and Auction is set for Friday, April 24 at the Bryant Conference Center on the University of Alabama campus. A silent auction is planned from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. and dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A live auction will be held after dinner.
About Eagles’ Wings
Sandra Pike and her husband, Jerry, founded Eagles’ Wings, Inc. after their son Joey, who was born with Marshall-Smith Syndrome, graduated from high school. “When Joey was in high school, his teacher asked us what our plans were for Joey when he graduated,” Sandra Pike said. “We checked all the programs out and they were either full or couldn’t take Joey due to his medical needs. His teacher told us about a place in Eastaboga called ‘Rainbow Omega.’ My husband and Joey’s teacher visited and my husband fell in love with it. However, there was no way we were going to let Joey move away from us. After much praying and many sleepless nights, my husband and I decided we should build a Rainbow Omega here in the Tuscaloosa area.”
That’s exactly what Pike and her husband did. In 2005, they presented the idea of offering a facility for adults with disabilities at their first meeting. After that, everything began falling into place.
“We opened the doors to Eagles’Wings, Inc. in September of 2008 in a rented facility that was a former plumber’s warehouse,” Pike said. The program began by serving five clients, which quickly increased, creating the need for a bigger building. “Construction for the new facility began November 1, 2010.”
The new Eagles’ Wings facility opened in May of 2014.
Joey Pike and the Pike family recently marked a huge milestone. Pike, who was not expected to live past the age of three, celebrated his 30th birthday. Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon declared April 14 Joey Pike Day, saying Pike “is an inspiration to all who know him.”
For more information about this year’s tournament and the dinner, call Sandra or Jerry Pike at (205) 799-2218 or (205) 361-0986. You can also call the Eagles’ Wings office in Coker at (205) 345-5484, and you can visit the official website at http://www.eagleswingsoftuscaloosa.org/.
Photos: Eagles’ Wings
By Chloe Monte
Who doesn’t love a great food festival? Fortunately for those of us who live in Alabama, we’ve got a ton of great ones to enjoy. These are some of my favorites – though it can be tough to choose. From barbecue in Huntsville and Birmingham to excellent food and wine in T-Town (and beyond), mark your calendars and prepare to be amazed.
The University of Alabama Greek Week, held last month, fostered friendly competition among campus fraternity and sorority organizations, but more importantly it will have a lasting impact on the Tuscaloosa area. All total, $101,000 was donated to over 30 different area non-profits. All total, UA Greeks contributed 1200 hours of service to the community.
Greek Week consisted of competitions between fraternities and sororities, including bowling, basketball, dodge ball and a dance competition. The highlight of the week was a service component, in which UA’s Greek community partnered with Habitat for Humanity for the annual all-Greek service project.
Mark Mayfield was working as the executive editor of Southern Accents magazine when he made a bold inquiry to one of America’s most beloved authors ever – Nelle Harper Lee.
“I wrote to her, asking if she would consider writing an essay on southern photography to coincide with an exhibit we were featuring,” Mayfield said. “This letter is her wonderful response. She declined, but it’s the nicest turndown I’ve ever had.”
This letter exemplifies Lee’s charm and eloquence.
By Cokie Thompson
Jackson and Brock Siskey ran to their piggy banks, each to get one dollar while they were getting ready to leave. Their elementary school was having a hat day, and they needed a dollar to participate. When they pulled up in the car line, mom Erin Siskey realized Jackson had grabbed more than a dollar.
He had grabbed a hundred. Specifically, the hundred dollars he and Brock were saving to buy a Wii U.
“I was like ‘You can’t give them a hundred dollars,’” Siskey said. “And then I thought, ‘Wait, yes you can!’”
Rock Quarry Elementary and Middle Schools have spent this school year raising money to build a school in Lagos, Nigeria. Andrew Maxey, the principal of Rock Quarry Middle, grew up there, and his parents are still there working as missionaries.
Students in Tricia Schuster’s art class at Holy Spirit Catholic School recently had the opportunity to learn all the different ways engineering is used to create Automata Artwork. Local artist Chris Davenport demonstrated pieces of her work to show the students they move by cams and crank power or pull strings. The students will get hands on experience by creating their own Automata designs in art class.
Photo: Laurie Mitchell
By Cokie Thompson
The storms that blew through Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, had come and gone in a matter of hours, but residents have spent the years since trying to get back to normal. On January 6, the students, faculty and staff of Alberta Elementary School began a new routine on their old stomping ground--now The Alberta School of Performing Arts.
Principal Brenda Parker is excited to be back in Alberta.
“We looked at video clips later, and everyone--every teacher, every child--talked about a homecoming,” Parker said.
By Marlena Rice
Mercer Mayer and his wife Gina could not have summed up a parent’s late night frustration any better than in their popular children’s book, Just Go to Bed. In the book, one in the Little Critter series, Little Critter attempts to bypass bedtime by becoming a robot, a cowboy and even a space cadet flying to the moon, all before finally giving in to his stuffed animal and bed. Does this sound familiar?
After countless nights of waking up after midnight after having fallen asleep on one of my living room couches with my son, not only do my back and neck hurt into the early hours of the morning, but I find myself wondering who in their right mind would air cartoons on TV after 8 or 9 p.m. The people who make this call must not have children, but, if they do in the future, I’m sure they will come to believe in karma. As my son nears age two, I’ve had to get creative when it comes to television rules and bed time.
Here are a few tips...
By Mike Green
Before I talk a little about parenting teenagers, please allow me a minute to share part of my story.
In the winter of 1983, I walked through the doors of the old Campus Life Teen Center off of 15th Street. It was a building I had been in as a kid when it was the Southern Grass Tennis Academy. I had spent many summers swimming in the pool and playing pinball with other youth my age. Now, as a college student, I was drawn back to these familiar grounds. That night I would meet a guy named Perry Liles. Perry was a volunteer with Campus Life and had invited me to learn more about what the organization was doing for area high school students. That night I began to learn the nuts and bolts of Campus Life, but what really impacted my life was the people I met.
Though I couldn’t quite label what this ragtag group of teenagers and adults had going for them, I sensed something unique. And I wanted to be a part of it. So, what was it that made this group so inviting? Yes, they were Christians, and that resonated with me. I had given my life to Christ in junior high. And this group gave me the opportunity to live out my faith. But there was more. They were fun. Campus Life in my college days was some of the most fun I have ever experienced. Trips to Gatlinburg, Scream in The Dark, Burger Bashes, the electric chair and more are the most vivid memories I have of my college days. But that wasn’t really it either. So what is it that made Campus Life, Campus Life?
There is one word that keeps coming to mind when I think of the people and relationships I made in those days, and it is “authentic.” These people were real. So much of my teenage and college years before Campus Life seemed to lack any of the honest relationships that I so eagerly desired. Many friends seemed focused on impressing me with the drinking escapades. My committed Christian friends wanted me to believe they were perfect and somehow had “arrived.” But here, I found others like me who were still trying to figure life out and were honest enough to say so. This place created a safe environment for teenagers and young adults to actually have honest conversations about life, God, church, and whatever the controversial issues were of the day.
I wish every person could experience what I found in Campus Life. I can’t imagine my life without these very special years of college. They have laid a foundation for my life and, of course, have a whole lot to do with why I still am a part of Campus Life 32 years later.
So here is my point: Help your teen find this authentic, safe, honest, challenging, and fun place to lay a foundation for life. Create this place at home. Find a youth group or youth ministry that will do the same. In doing so you will change the course of your child’s life.
Mike Green is Executive Director of Tuscaloosa Youth For Christ/ Campus Life. He and his wife, Laura, have two grown children.