San Carlos Youth Center blooms with students’ interests


Emma Licko

The Youth Center staff dresses up for a spirit day.

The San Carlos Youth Center prides itself on providing a fun experience for students of all ages while being completely free of charge.

Conveniently located next to Burton Park, one of San Carlos’ main community attractions, the Youth Center allows kids to participate in activities and enroll in camps. Throughout the school year, the Youth Center is open Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. and on Wednesday from 1-6 p.m., with extended hours on occasion, depending on programs.

When visiting the Youth Center, students can expect to find a variety of staff-led programs utilizing different parts of the facility. The space includes a full-sized gym, a game room, and a homework room. Among other activities, students can play video games, ping pong, basketball, or spend time with their friends.

The Youth Center sees the same faces return daily because of the variety of activities and events that interest the youth. 

“We have many kids interested in watching football, especially with friends. Based on this feedback, we started a Monday night football program where students can come to the Youth Center to relax and watch football,” said Emma Licko, the recreation coordinator for San Carlos.

The Youth Center is unique in that planned events attempt to tailor to the youths’ interests. 

“The city of San Carlos’ camp guide is based on feedback from students we see at the Youth Center throughout the year. Since we provide most of the spaces for the summer camps, we get a lot of say in what camps we choose each year,” Licko said.

The summer camp options encompass various activities, from tennis to baking to academic opportunities like tutoring. As the youths’ interests change, the Youth Center will continue to adapt to provide them with the activities and support they desire. 

According to Licko, students find it easy to feel at home whenever they step foot into the space because of the positive environment the staff members have cultivated, whether during the school year or in the summer. 

It is rare for kids to be able to attend a free program that contains the equipment and spaces the Youth Center is so lucky to have. It is even more unique that we have students that range in age and interests.”

— Emma Licko

Many high school students work at the Youth Center both after school and during the summer. According to Licko, they undergo an extensive training process called the Youth Center’s Leader In Training Education (LITE) program. LITE is specific for teenagers who are interested in being Youth Center staff, camp counselors, or leaders in the community.

“I was part of the LITE program, which was a great experience. The program gave me the experience of interviewing for a real job, a skill I can use forever,” said Collin Marvrinac, a staff member.

According to Licko, if you are a high schooler who loves to work with kids, you will fit right in at the Youth Center.

“When I heard the Youth Center was hiring, I immediately applied. My favorite part of my job is doing daily activities, which includes baking, making crafts, and being creative,” said Maddie Wiessinger, a Carlmont senior and staff member.

The Youth Center is unlike other centers on the peninsula. According to Licko, it gets more funding from San Carlos than most cities on the peninsula.

“It is rare for kids to be able to attend a free program that contains the equipment and spaces the Youth Center is so lucky to have. It is even more unique that we have students that range in age and interests,” Licko said.

Licko believes the space will continue to be a staple for San Carlos locals in the future. 

“The Youth Center is a cool area to be in and meet new people. I am very proud of the environment we have created here,” Licko said.