by: Kristen Forbes, Tommy Viggiano, 13,  makes his move in a giant chess game at the West End Building Monday in Lake Oswego as part of the Tween and Teen Summer Kick-Off party.

One thing is certain: Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation organizers chose an ideal day for the Tween and Teen Summer Kick-Off party on Monday, June 16.

As temperatures rose to the mid-70s and hot dogs sizzled on the grill, around 150 kids dropped in to share in the sun and fun.

The four-hour event was offered free of charge, thanks to grant money left over after a year of careful budgeting and frugal spending for the After School Activities Program (also known as ASAP) and the drop-in McKenzie Lounge at the West End Building, located at 4101 Kruse Way.

'We had money left over, so we decided to splurge and throw a big bash,' teen program coordinator Cydny Winslow explains.

In addition to a free barbeque, the event featured a DJ and several inflatable play areas. Party-goers maneuvered their way through a seven-element obstacle course, donned oversize foam gloves for boxing matches and tested their balancing and sparring skills in the Gladiator jousting pit. A giant outdoor chessboard offered a physical twist on the classic board game.

'The hardest thing is letting people know that we're here and reminding people that we're here all summer,' Winslow says of the reasoning behind the party. 'We really wanted to kick things off.'

For those who needed an escape from the sun, the McKenzie lounge remained open during the event as well. The crowds of youth who attended had a choice between pool, table tennis, cards, TV and video games - all of which are offered year-round at the lounge.

A slew of youth programs through the Parks and Recreation department are planned for this summer, including a teen surf camp, teen service corps, youth action council golf tournament and community gardening events at Luscher Farm. More information on these programs, as well as McKenzie lounge hours, can be found at .

The summer hours for the drop-in lounge are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Junior high and high school students are always welcome, free of charge.  

Kristen Forbes is a freelance writer. To view her blog, visit .

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