PORT ANGELES — With the help of two Port Angeles community improvement groups, teenagers might soon have a place where they can reign over their own activities and entertainment choices.
Members of Revitalize Port Angeles and the Port Angeles Citizen Action Network (PA CAN) have been working with a committee of high school students to create a nonprofit coffeehouse and music venue for high school age youths in a friendly and safe place.
The committee has named its group and future coffeehouse Pacific Reign.
Modeled on the Boiler Room, a teen-run nonprofit coffeehouse, music venue and hangout in Port Townsend, the Port Angeles teens plan to operate in temporary, borrowed venues donated by the business operators until they can raise funds for a permanent location.
On Thursday, they took over Bada NW Coffee Bar, 118 W. First St., and more than 78 teens showed up for the group’s grand opening event.
The attendance surprised adults involved in the planning, said Leslie Robertson, founder of Revitalize.
They had worried that no one knew about the event because no fliers had been posted or any other advertising done.
But teens are savvy about how to communicate with their peers, Robertson said.
The entire time the adults worried, the teens were taking the message to their peers using social media venues adults didn’t even notice, she said.
“No one looks at fliers,” said Elijah Dumdie, 18, chairman of the Pacific Reign planning committee.
Dumdie and other committee members noted that attendance at events depends on word-of-mouth; if other teens saw their friends talking about it on social media, they were more likely to want to be there.
Leslie Robertson’s daughter, Lily Robertson, 16, said so many people came to the event, she was concerned about the capacity of Bada NW.
“Bada Bean made money, too,” Lily noted.
The teens hope to eventually have their own space that will be run by teenagers and supervised by adults, including members of Revitalize and PA CAN.
Dumdie said Pacific Reign will be different from other teen centers opened in the past because it will be teen-operated and teen-run.
One of the reasons past teen clubs have failed is because they were organized and planned by adults, he said.
By taking control of the teen club, with adults there only as advisers, the teens can schedule activities they know their peers want to take part in rather than what adults think teens want to do, he said.
Last week, 16 teenagers between 15 to 18 years old met at Mended, a church and art gallery in downtown Port Angeles, to organize their next few activities.
After working through suggestions, they selected an Ultimate Frisbee and beach volleyball tournament for teens, and are applying to the city of Port Angeles to hold it May 13 at the West End Park using the two pocket beaches and grassy circle.
They plan to sell root beer floats for $1.
“We’ll make money to host bigger and better nights,” Dumdie said.
Future events could include a karaoke night at a coffeehouse, a summer water balloon fight and a beach cleanup followed by a bonfire and barbecue.
Middle school students are not included in the activities at this time.
“I’m concerned about their maturity level,” said Brittney Sofie, 17, a junior and a member of the planning committee.
Sofie and others who attended the planning workshop said they believe that if younger students attend the events designed for older teens, the older teens would simply stop attending.
Instead, the group decided to wait until the regular Pacific Reign events are running smoothly, then plan monthly activities specifically for middle school students.
________Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at email@example.com.