Teen Lock-In: Kids learn team-building skills overnight

HARLINGEN — “Aaah!”

The crowd of teenagers looked with great satisfaction as the blue ball rolled down into a sort of open drain, proving their engineering skills.

Kids from throughout the city had converged on the Harry Nigro Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlingen. It was Friday night and they’d be there until the next morning.

They were enjoying a variety of activities as part of Teen Lock-In. One of them was the team-building activity using troughs, gears, balls, blocks and tubes made of high-density foam.

Almost 100 kids divided into four teams and each set about the task of building a structure using the elements of teamwork, engineering, construction and other skills. One particular team itself split into about four smaller groups which built their individual structures — more than once.

“We were thinking that was going to be an airplane type of thing and then it wouldn’t work,” said Isaiah Lizcano, 15, as he gestured toward a group of very energetic young men who moved in quick motion to assemble different pieces.

Gears, blocks, troughs and objects were repeatedly moved and shifted, the “airplane” seeming to be transformed several times into different shapes. Finally, the airplane became a fort, said Isaiah.

“I am having a lot of fun with my friends and meeting new people,” he said.

This particular team-building event was made possible through a grant from KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play needed to thrive.

The kids seemed to be thriving very well Friday night.

“It’s like architecture,” said Jackie Vidal, 17. “There are problems in anything and you have to work as a team to be able to fix them.”