Bluffton teens now have a new way to spend Friday nights.
The Bluffton Boys & Girls Club is hosting weekly teen nights, featuring basketball tournaments, music programs and more, each Friday until December 2013.
The program, made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Berkeley Hall Charity Cup -- a three-day fundraiser organized by that neighborhood's residents that includes auctions and a golf tournament -- beats sitting at home, Tyrone Mitchell said.
Mitchell attended the first teen night July 6 and participated in basketball tournaments. The 13-year-old said he did OK, but more important, "I got to meet new people, and we got to eat and chill and relax."
Mitchell said if he hadn't come to the event, he probably would have stayed home and watched TV or played video games. The event was more fun, he said.
Mitchell plans to keep attending the activities, which are from 7 p.m. to midnight every Friday.
That's good news for unit director Molly Smith, who hopes the program draws more teens to the Boys & Girls Club. Smith estimates there are more than 2,500 teens in Bluffton, but only about 80 come to the club after school, and 40 or 50 come in the summers.
"The Boys & Girls Club just wants to serve the community better," she said. "We think the teenagers are who need us the most, and we want to give them something to do."
Future Friday night activities include a video game tournament and a mini-lock-in with hands-on activities, such as culinary classes, SAT help and college information. Smith said she's also lining up local rappers and other performers to attend the events.
All Bluffton teens can enter with an ID to confirm they live in Bluffton, Smith said."To be able to do this every week is just phenomenal," Smith said. "It's really helping, I think, and I'm really excited about it."