St. Charles Park District: Teen center to host upcoming open house

St. Charles 5th graders invited to learn more about the center May 20

Moving from the familiar confines of elementary school to junior high school can be daunting for any kid. But while the process of adolescence presents myriad unknowns, one place is looking to ease the transition for the outgoing 5th graders of St. Charles.

On May 20, the St. Charles Underground Teen Center will host pre-teens and their families for an open house. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about facility and the many benefits of membership, which include not only programs, activities and trips but huge potential for friendships and connections with peers

“There aren’t many teen centers around and teens can be a hard demographic to program for, so we’re really a unique avenue to explore,” said Chris Holling, teen center supervisor.

Serving ages 11 to 19, the St. Charles Underground Teen Center is free to join as are many of its programs, though some activities and field trips require fees to cover the cost of supplies or the outing itself. Established in 2001, the space looks to put teens at the forefront of everything it does as well as act as a safe space for its young people.

“We want to make sure teens have an environment where they can thrive in whatever capacity that looks like,” said Holling, who says nearly 1,500 teens are registered as members.

At the open house, participants can take self-guided tours of the space, which encompasses a computer room, library, and lounge seating area where teens often congregate to play video games. Attendees can check out the center’s selection of board games as well as billiards, air hockey, ping pong and foosball. An arts area allows for the chance to flex some creative muscle while a media section is equipped with large screen TVs for teens to watch their favorite shows or movies. Throughout the open house, staff members will be on hand to introduce themselves and answer any and all questions about the center.

“We want to be as casual and laid-back as we can and let the kids scope out the facility,” Holling said. “As for programs, we go off of trends and we have conversations with our teens about the things they want to see.”

Among the upcoming activities is an evening of Dip, Dive, DODGEBALL! in the Haines Gymnasium on May 27 and a chance to tie-dye a shirt to create a one-of-a-kind piece on June 3. Teens will have to beat the clock during The Minute to Win It Challenge on June 8 or discover what it takes to be a scientist in the field of robotics, experimental design, engineering or coding in It’s All About STEAM on July 1.

The teen center has also organized a number of summer trips to nearby spots like Main Event entertainment center on June 2 and farther afield to Six Flags Great America on June 23.

And participants can capitalize on warm evenings by checking out Movies in the Park at the Pottawatomie Park Amphitheater. Trolls World Tour will play June 17 with Encanto on July 15 and Mitchells vs. the Machines on August 19.

For more information about St. Charles Underground Teen Center and its offerings, visit