Smithsburg teens kick back in The End Zone

November 07, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG - What can you do after a home football game when you are 14 and too young to drive?

"Well, I used to just go home and go to sleep," said Emily Trueblood.

But that's all changed for Emily and dozens of other teens in the Smithsburg area Since Sept. 14.

The change is The End Zone, a hangout for teens after home games, now provided by Trinity Lutheran Church at 15 Main St.

"Our objective is to be a community church, and that includes the kids," said Pastor Gerry Johnson. He and Susan Franceschina, part-time youth ministry activities coordinator at Trinity, worked to formulate activities that would appeal to young people.

They coattailed with home football games and began getting the word out, via flyers at the schools, letters sent home from church with the kids - and word of mouth.


"With our kids after a football game, they go into Hagerstown or elsewhere to hang out - there is nothing close by," Johnson said.

The first effort for The End Zone was Sept. 14. About 30 young people showed up. Some were from Trinity, but most weren't church members.

"We hired a band called 'Basement' and had free pizza and sodas," Johnson said, stressing the event was well-chaperoned. "The kids came and went."

While 30 wasn't bad for a first time, Johnson said he was hoping for more attendance, and more importantly, he wanted kids to come and stay from 9:30 p.m. until midnight.

YouTube videos were played as were some comedy videos. Some of the young people danced to the band, Johnson said.

On Sept. 28, about 35 kids showed up and this time, most stayed, Johnson said. There was no band this time and the food wasn't free, mainly because the church doesn't want The End Zone to become too expensive.

"I thought it would be sitting around like in church," said Christian Rejonis, 14 and a member of Trinity. But it wasn't, and Christian said it was cool that everyone who came brought a couple of friends.

Emily especially liked being able to hang around with her friends after a game. But when asked about her favorite part of the event, she admitted to liking the Burger King prizes Johnson handed out.

"I've got a million of them," he said.

Juliette Wallace, 14, is not a Trinity member and described The End Zone as something to do. "There were about 10 of our group there," she said.

Parents pick up the kids when The End Zone is over, Johnson said.

Alex Brown, also 14, said he didn't know about the first one but showed up for the second. "I think it's a good idea," he said.

Once football season is over, Johnson said he hopes to repeat the activity a couple of times during the winter as long as its popularity continues.

Johnson said he was feeling optimistic about the impact of The End Zone, but admitted that when a parent recently approached him in front of the church office and wanted to talk to him about the activity, he was momentarily ill at ease.

Instead the woman had nothing but praise for The End Zone, saying her daughter couldn't say enough good things about it.

"And they are from Frederick (Md.) ... they don't even go to church here," Johnson said.

The End Zone will wrap up this football season on Nov. 9 when the Smithsburg Leopards battle Boonsboro in the last home game.

For more information, call 301-824-7460.

The Herald-Mail Articles