By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

After intermittent closures throughout the Fall, the Youth Centre run by the Valemount V-Crew Youth Network re-opened its doors last Wednesday. The centre now has drop-in hours four days a week: from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 5:00-10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Network’s recently-hired youth coordinator, Courtney Rupertus, told The Goat she looks forward to having the centre open on a regular basis so kids aged 12 to 18 have a place to spend time after school. According to her, this is the first time the Centre will be consistently open since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Centre to shutter in 2020.

“Kids can kind of get into the routine of always having a place to hang out after school and in the evenings,” Rupertus said of the reopening. “I think something that’s limited here in our community is just like, a safe place to chill, so [the Centre] is cool.”

Rupertus plans on taking visitors’ feedback into consideration when planning future programming for the Centre. One program already in place is a Dungeons & Dragons evening every Thursday – she brought in extra chairs so teens can easily gather and play the roleplaying game together. The Centre is also equipped with video games and a pool table, so visitors have access to recreational activities. Rupertus said she is also exploring the idea of having a colouring book club, for those who might not be interested in playing games.

The Centre also has snacks available for visitors. Rupertus said she makes free snacks such as clementines available so no one goes hungry, though there are some treats like soda and cookies available for those who have cash on hand. She is also available to help students with homework.

Rupertus has made visits to grade seven classes and to Valemount Secondary School to let students know about the Centre’s new opening hours. She looks forward to adapting to her new role as more teens visit the Centre.

“I had my eye on this job for a long time, and it’s something I’m inherently passionate about,” she said. “I think the rest will kind of be ‘fill in the blank’ as I go.”