The Teen Center was founded by the Muskogee Parks and Recreation Department in 2010 to offer safety and supervision for teens during out-of-school hours. The Teen Center is centrally located at 322 Callahan St. The building, constructed in 1937 as a WPA project, was one of the biggest armories in Oklahoma, housing two battalions.

Today, the facility boasts a basketball/volleyball court; a game room with pingpong tables, pool tables, foosball, and PlayStation 4; a fitness and weight room, a computer lab, a café area with booths for gathering, and a quiet space for homework. The center provides a good place for teens to hang out and learn new skills and hobbies. Director Eileen Van Kirk says, “It’s a fun, supervised environment for kids who are too old for other after-school care but too young for jobs.”

Programming is youth driven, as staff make an effort to offer activities that youth request. Some examples include contests and tournaments; crafts; and seasonal activities like decorating live Christmas trees and holiday cooking. The center also promotes other holiday activities such as the Joy of Giving and Angel Tree. Muskogee Youth Volunteer Corps is headquartered at the Teen Center, offering numerous projects and volunteer opportunities.

Classes are offered on topics such as nutrition, cooking, and financial literacy, and an information board helps youth learn about local events and employers who will hire teens as well as city positions available for youth. The teen center also pays for swim classes and lifeguard training for youth interested in lifeguard positions.

All Muskogee area youth in grades 7-12 are welcome at the Teen Center. Muskogee Public School buses stop at the facility, and youth come from Hilldale and surrounding rural communities. During the summer, youth visiting from out of town can also attend the Teen Center. There are 400 registered members, with an average of 45 youth attending the center each day. A sign-in system helps staff track the number of students in the building.

All Teen Center activities are free thanks to funding from the City of Muskogee Foundation. Teens just need to fill out a membership application at their first visit. Hours are 3-7 p.m. after school and extend earlier during summer and school breaks.

For information, contact Eileen Van Kirk at evankirk@muskogeeparks.org or (918) 684-6345.

Reach Rebecca Walkup at Neighbors Building Neighborhoods at (918) 683-4600 or rwalkup@nbn-nrc.org

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