Friday, February 03, 2006

Respect Teens, Please!

W.E.T. River Trips is gearing up for our first rafting trips next month. This will be a great year for families with active athletic teens and kids. A few of our teen rafting consultants are helping out here as we create new activities and rafting programs for them. The other day, two of our teen consultants, were running through town doing errands for the company. Busy day made for a lot of errands while we bundled our activities so that gas was saved and time was used efficiently.

The two were in an older vehicle with stickers in the back window advocating the environment, vegetarianism, favorite bands, bicycling, rafting and the ubitquous Apple sticker. No political statements except for the total attitude that, of course, these teens were flaming liberals. They had just left the post office and were sitting at the light, when a very well-dressed middle-aged woman (at least that was the description given to me... could have been in the 30's since all adults look middle-aged to teens!) driving a Lexus SUV pulled up behind them. The woman was sneering at them and the teen driver could see that she was mouthing something and pointing. Our teen driver couldn't figure out what was wrong, so as a newer driver, who has been told by experienced drivers not to make eye contact with the weirdo driving population, our teen just focused ahead waiting for the light to turn green. The woman behind her proceeded to go around and pull up beside the two teens. This woman then proceeded to yell at them and point to their stickers. The teens couldn't understand what was wrong except that somehow this woman was really offended. When the light turned green, the woman rolled down her window, stuck her arm out and proceeded to give them the flying bird!

Both teens sat there shocked and when the SUV drove by, they realized that they were still sitting there just stunned. When they got back to our office, both came running in talking about this strange event. Both were first year drivers, and both teens live in sheltered affluent lives. While the flipped bird is used frequently among teens accompanied by the 'F' word, they were just shocked that an adult would blatantly do this to young teens. We all had a laugh, but some of us were actually scared for them. Why in the world would an adult assault two young people over their car stickers? Was the woman so challenged by these teens youthful forays in trying to understand this complicated world? Is being a vegetarian something to be scared of or insulted by? Is advocating for a clean and healthy environment by encouraging bicycling some kind of attack on someone's poltiics?

What a sad state when our youth cannot even experiment with new ideas and thoughts. The funny thing is that these two teens go to private Christian schools. Their school focuses on giving back to the community in way of donations and time. These teens participate in soup kitchens, they donate their precious time while helping with non-profit organizations in town, they collect coats for kids, they go to foreign countries to help build homes for the poor, and they are normal teens who've been blessed with a wonderful life.

As adults, we need to respect teens. Their lives are filled with turmoil. School, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, boy/girl relationships, pending college apps and parental relationships make it difficult to transcend into adulthood. Respect teens for they are our future. W.E.T. sees them as being our future paddling clients and our rafting guides. You will be hiring and working with them. You will be including them into your family when your child marries them. They will be your new young neighbor. They will elect our future politicians. As a rafting company, we see them as an exciting addition to our river trips. They bring such excitement and joy with their new eyes. They aren't jaded as the rest of us, yet. Let them enjoy life and, please, respect them.

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