On the second floor of the mall at Voorhees Town Center, next to the Boscov’s and across from the Camden County Store, there is a quiet, cozy place where teens can go after school and during the summer.
After being idled by the pandemic, The Spot reopened in June to again host area students in middle and high school who want a place to hang out. It was created in 2008 by the Berlin-Gibbsboro-Voorhees Municipal Alliance and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse as a safe place for teens and a bulwark against drug and alcohol abuse.
“Our mission is to reach out to those students who maybe aren’t involved in athletics or who don’t stay after school, and provide a safe place for them to come,” explained Elena Chow, coordinator of the alliance and Eastern Regional High School Board of Education member.
Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., the space has been completely transformed to feel like a home away from home. The floors are carpeted and the walls a warm shade of blue, and features include a snack bar, a creative space with art supplies and tables, two TVs, books, board games, video games and a piano. At the snack bar, students can purchase food and drinks or a sandwich donated by Wawa. While there is no transportation from Eastern Regional High School, Chow said some students walk from there to the center or are dropped off.
“As long as they’re within a certain radius of the mall, they’re allowed to come,” Chow noted.
“For a lot of [the kids that come here], it seems like a safe space, somewhere where they get together with their friends, and somewhere that they really enjoy being,” said Danielle Downing, supervisor at The Spot. “They do take advantage of having a supervisor here, having an adult that they can chat with about whatever’s going on in their life or if they need help with something.”
Chow and Downing said video games are the most popular activity at The Spot.
“At first we thought that these games are very independent, but [the students] actually talk to each other, so it’s very interactive,” Chow observed. “It’s a way for them to socialize.”
While the teens are welcome to bring their own, electronic games are also available, including Nintendo Switch, Wii, Xbox and PS4. Other activities are foosball, pool table and a mini-basketball hoop.
The Spot will host a Jeopardy tournament for teens from 12 to 18 on Thursday July 29. . Teens can sign up on The Spot’s Facebook page at The Spot Teen Center Voorhees, NJ.