Kirkland Teens Bond During Difficult Times
Teens face a wide range of challenges in any year; this year introduced even more, as the pandemic and social isolation forces young people to recalibrate how they learn and socialize.
Going through this strange time together, members of the Kirkland Torch Club* developed a newfound level of comradery. On any given day, between 7-14 teens at the Club get together to participate in Torch Club activities. Members find solace through their relationships with each other and Kirkland Teen Director Alex Hollerman.
Throughout the pandemic and a growing national acknowledgement of racial injustice, Alex and the Kirkland teens continue to meet on a nearly daily basis. The group holds fundraisers and plans Club-wide activities for younger members.
This fall, teens held a candy fundraiser to order Kirkland Torch Club sweatshirts. Members proudly rock these sweatshirts most days as a symbol of pride and friendship.
Torch Club members worked together on creating holiday activities, in an attempt to make this year feel as normal as possible. They built a haunted graveyard for the younger kids to brave and hunt for candy. For Turkey Day, they built catapults and played a game where they chucked pumpkins across the gym.
Beyond programming, Torch Club is a space where members can deeply connect.
According to Kirkland Teen Director Alex Hollerman, “[The members] have moments where they truly surprise me and I’m pretty sure themselves with their honesty, their ingenuity, and their vulnerability.”
Torch Club meetings have become a mainstay of the Club experience during this time. It is something that teens look forward to after remote learning is done for the day.
Teens reflect on the past year at the Club:
It’s been hecka fun! I feel like I’m on top of the air! I feel blown’d away.
It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions, many sleepless nights, and a lot of empty iced coffee containers and Starbucks receipts, but I’m managing to get through it.
Throughout the mix of highs and lows of this year, Torch Club meetings continue as a space where teens are encouraged to connect with one another and develop social-emotional skills that they can carry with them to the next phase of their lives.
Before this year, relationships among members were more surface-level, and Alex hopes that the development of close relationships can continue beyond the pandemic.
*Torch Club is a leadership development and service group for middle school members. There are many chapters at Clubs nationwide.