More than kid stuff – Jan. 2018

Alison DeCoteau and Her son Elijah-who attends Bellowspring Elementary.


Five things you may not know about CA’s Youth and Teen Center

By David Greisman, January 2018

Columbia Association’s Youth and Teen Center goes beyond fun and games — though it has plenty of each.

After all, the Youth and Teen Center is a safe place to play, relax and socialize, where kids can watch movies; play video games on a large flat screen TV; use a computer lab; enjoy pool tables, air hockey, ping pong and various board games in the recreation room; and play basketball, volleyball and other games and activities in the upstairs mini-gym.

But the Youth and Teen Center’s grander mission is to promote self-esteem and develop relevant life skills for kids ages 9-18. That mission is often carried out through several programs and activities you might not have known about. Beyond that, the Youth and Teen Center hosts parenting workshops and provides hot meals to kids who might otherwise go hungry.

Learn more about these programs below — and for even more information, please call 410-992-3726 or email

The Youth and Teen Center is located at 5853 Robert Oliver Place in the Oakland Mills Village Center.

CheckMates Chess Club

Every week, the boys and girls at the Youth and Teen Center become kings and queens.

The CheckMates Chess Club has grown increasingly popular since it was first suggested by members of the Howard County Police Department. Unlike the usual interactions with police officers — when someone is a victim or a suspect — students enjoy friendly competition and mentorship from the officers, who help them grow on and off the chess board.

The CheckMates Chess Club meets every Monday from 4-6pm.

Tech Café

Students also give back to their community by volunteering their considerable expertise with modern technology during visits to the East Columbia 50+ Center. Every month, kids taking part in the Tech Café show older adults how to get the most out of their digital devices.

The 50+ Center is located at 6600 Cradlerock Way, next to the East Columbia Library branch in Owen Brown. Sessions run from 3:30-4:30pm on Jan. 9, Feb. 6, March 6, April 10, May 1 and June 5.  

For G.I.R.L.S. Only / Boys 2 Men

These mentoring programs feature guest speakers, activities, projects and life skills classes to help youth and teens develop into confident, capable young women and men.

For G.I.R.L.S. Only meets the second and fourth Thursday from 5-6:30pm. Boys 2 Men meets on the first and third Monday from 3:30-4:30pm (8th grade-high school) and 4:30-5:30pm (elementary school-7th grade).

Supper Club

The Youth and Teen Center is a Supper and Summer Club meals program site, providing nutritious meals for registered participants after school and during the summer months.

Parenting Workshops

Two parenting workshops sponsored by the Jacaranda Center for Family and Youth are scheduled for the coming months.

Critical Connections — held on Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 6:30-8:30pm — will explore the components of the critical adult-youth relationships that all youth need to be successful, healthy and whole. Participants will develop strategies to mobilize and build the caring adults that their children need to be in order to succeed in life.

Rethinking Summer — held on Wednesday, May 2 from 6:30-8:30pm — provides parents with the tools and strategies to develop a summer learning plan that promotes academic success and social-emotional development.

To register, please call 410-978-1859 or email Each workshop is $20. There is no cost for registered YTC parents.