Durango might be a fun place for vacation or college, but to local teens, its still a really small town with not a lot to do.
It does not have an adequate mall, big youth events or big concerts, said Amber Kairalla, 18.
Given all the opportunities for outdoor recreation here, the teens complaint might produce an eye-rolling reaction from adults, but teens respond that not everyone is the outdoorsy type nor can everyone afford ski passes, a mountain bike and a truck with four-wheel drive.
All of that stuff costs money, said Aiyana Anderson, 17.
Plus, teens feel like theyre at an inconvenient age where they are too old for childrens attractions such as the Durango Discovery Museum but not old enough to enjoy the night life.
To fill this void of nothing to do, teens have organized the first-ever Youth Expo from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Discovery Museum, 1333 Camino del Rio.
An eclectic group of exhibitors ranging from Planned Parenthood to Habitat for Humanity to Dance in the Rockies will offer an array of opportunities for jobs, internships, volunteering, education and recreation. The list of exhibitors on Friday was 35 and counting, including all local schools, Anderson said.
Anderson, the chairwoman of the Youth Expo Organizing Committee, which is part of the Mayors Youth Advisory Commission, hopes the event will open some eyes.
I dont feel like theres a whole lot to do in this town, but I feel like theres some (things to do). I dont think people know about it. Its getting the few resources we do have out to the people, Anderson said.
Anne Gillis, owner of Dance in the Rockies, thinks there are things to do here.
I feel like were always competing with soccer and softball, she said,
But Gillis does think that it takes some initiative to get involved and develop an interest. Her dance studio encourages teens to try out dance styles as varied as hip-hop and ballet. It has a dance team for competitions.
Serena Mills, the assistant store manager of ReStore, a building supply store that supports Habitat for Humanity, was once worried her 16-year-old Tyler had nothing to do when he got home from Frontier Baptist Academy, where he is a ninth-grader.
So she got him volunteering at the store, unloading furniture from trucks and shoveling snow from the sidewalk.
He has developed a strong work ethic, Mills said.
Having grown up in Indiana where there was nothing to do but watch the corn grow, Durango Mayor Christina Rinderle said she can relate to frustrations of local youths. The youth commission was organized a year ago with an annual budget of $2,000. It has seven members and two alternates.
The mayor has succeeded in getting the group out of town, taking them to a League of Cities convention in Denver last year.
In addition to the Mayors Youth Advisory Commission, the city encourages teens to serve on its boards.
Anderson, for example, weighed in on purchases at the Durango Public Library as a member of its advisory board.
During a breakfast meeting of the citys Multi-Modal Advisory Board, youth representative Hank Searfus spoke up for the frustrations of Durango High School students riding the trolley, such as the delays and overcrowding.
Anderson feels the mayors youth commission might be the best activity around.
Its like this really cool thing, and no one knows about it, she said.
Anderson, a junior at Animas High School, is feeling better about Durango but still feels theres not a lot to do. She is dreaming of California for college.
Durango is a great town, she said. It has a lot of things for a lot of people, but its not the place for me, primarily due to the cold. I like bigger cities.