Teens on Long Island are all about making up for what they may have missed out on last summer.
"My teen daughter and her friends made a wish list of things they want to do," says Glen Head mother and teacher Debbie Ilberg, 51. "They want to settle from this crazy year and make up for lost time."
Kathleen Tierney, 53, of New Hyde Park, says her teenage son Brian was at first "a little nervous" about calling his friends to get together for his 16th birthday. "It was the first time he'd had a group of friends over to our house in a year," Tierney explains. "As soon as the boys got together, they had a great time." Now, their upcoming plans include a Shark Dive at the Long Island Aquarium and a trip to Splish Splash.
There are many spots for teens to go for fun on Long Island this summer, and some come with a bonus. Lurking behind the laughter, many activities include channeling socialization and communication skills.
Take WildPlay at Jones Beach. As you make your way across a challenging series of zip lines and obstacles that run parallel to the ocean, you’ll look down on sand and sea life. At the same time, "When you come to the park, you’re not just going to do something fun and forget about it. Our goal is to help teens discover what they can and can’t do," says Adam Karp, the general manager.
Similar activities at the Adventure Park at Long Island are also about bravery and bonding. Candie Fisher (vice president of sales and marketing) describes the experience as a "Ninja Warrior"-style course, a combination of high ropes and obstacles. "You make your way on elements that require balance, strength and agility," Fisher says. "Your reward is, in between, you get to zip line from tree to tree or finish a course with a zip line at the end."
That’s just part of the experience. "It’s amazing to watch how friends encourage and help each other," Fisher adds. "It deepens relationships and helps with bonding when you go through these challenges together."
Here are additional details about these programs for teens and more:
WildPlay Jones Beach: Parallel to the ocean, begin with a classic level course involving wild and crazy zip lines, obstacles and platforms. Work your way up to the most extreme level. There’s also a stand-alone high-speed zip line that stretches over 700 feet along the beach.
INFO: Boardwalk at Jones Beach, Wantagh; 855-330-0123; Open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day; Packages vary, prices start at $44.99.
The Adventure Park at Long Island: In a forest setting, platforms surround more than 100 trees. Maneuver through a variety of creative crossings and zip lines to get from one tree to the next. Begin with a simple course through the trees, and increase your challenge at higher levels. During the Glow in the Park activity at night, climb across courses while trees are lit with LED lights. End your Friday evenings during the summer with Firepit Friday and hangout with friends while roasting marshmallows around a firepit.
INFO: 75 Colonial Springs Road, Gate #3, Wheatley Heights; 631-983-3844; Open daily through September; Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; General admission is $64, Firepit Friday is $48.
The Well Seasoned Chef: Executive chef and owner Sophia Brivio combines her culinary school training and multicultural background during her cooking classes. Teens learn basic skills ranging from grilling to roasting to stir-frying. They chat about anything and everything while preparing international three course meals together. "It’s an open, free environment," Brivio says. "We’re creating art with food."
INFO: 45 New Hyde Park Rd., #A, Garden City; 516-488-1008; check website for July classes; $250 for a three-day program.
PopUp Speakeasy Selfie Studio: Take selfies with your friends and family in multiple, creative studio settings that include a pink vintage van and cafe. Use props in the studio such as a 1980 boom box and fake birthday cake. Turn selfies into stories and post them on Instagram. Creative Director Catherine Ovejas says, "It’s about creating memories, doing it with your friends, and having a good time."
INFO: 1860 Pond Road, Ronkonkoma; To register for selfie session, email firstname.lastname@example.org; Open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; one-hour photo sessions are $25 for ages 12 and up.
Country Fair Entertainment Park: In a picturesque setting, there’s a little bit of almost everything: mini golf, spin zone, bumper cars, Go-Karts, driving range, batting cages, arcade, and fun cards.
INFO: 3351 Route 112, Medford; 631-732-0579; Check online for specific pricing for each activity and hours.