LAKE PLACID - Throughout Lake Placid, community members are working to make sure area students keep away from alcohol and other substances, and have fun doing it.
Such programs as Connecting Youth and Community, Safe Homes and the Lake Placid Outing Club are focusing on reducing the exposure of alcohol and drugs to area children and teens.
Tina Clark, a student support counselor at the Lake Placid High School pointed out that due to the high level of tourism in the area, many parents work odd hours which influences the time they may get to spend with their children.
"You don't typically have the same parent/family contact time that other communities might," she explained.
Clark said she envisions the Safe Homes program in particular as a way for parents to know their children are properly supervised.
Safe Homes was first developed in Lake Placid 15 years ago, but after the students in that program graduated, Clark said "it just ran it's course."
In August, the program came back to the area and membership is already at around 50 families.
To be a part of the Safe Homes program, parents sign a contract stating they are a safe home family and receive a sticker to put on the front of their house so other families are aware.
"Basically what it is is we're hoping to have a community in Lake Placid so that parents will know that if their child goes to such and such a house, that they'll be safe there," Clark said.
The program does monitor kids for more than drugs and alcohol however.
"All that includes things like the computer usage," Clark explained. "We're not going to just let them be on the computer Yahooing and Googling and all that. We try to think, what are the things that kids need to be monitored for?"
Another group is the CYC, which according to their Web site, ConnectingYouth.com, is "a family, a neighborhood and a group of friends who care about building and sustaining a vibrant community that encourages healthy decisions."
The group participate in various projects including Family Matters, which Clark explained is "an initiative that goes out to the sixth grade families."
There are a series of booklets the families receive about topics such as how to talk about drugs and alcohol with your child and how the media may influence your child.
"We're trying to reach out to parents in ways that work for them," said Clark. "Understanding they're not the type of parents in this community who are going to be able to come out to a 7 o'clock PTO meeting."
Clark emphasized the need for the CYC Web site is for parents to have all the resources they may need all in one site.
Other projects highlighted on the CYC Web site includes LPOC, which gives area students the option to participate in extracurricular activities such as white water rafting, hiking and rock climbing, for free.
The groups mission statement explains the "LPOC is an outdoor organization providing a safe, positive, lifelong learning experience for our youth through wilderness activities. LPOC builds self-esteem through the satisfaction of achievement while having fun in the mountains. All club activities foster teamwork, caring for others and stewardship of the environment."
Club advisor Donald McMullen said when the group originally began in 1993, there were about 10 participating students. Now the group averages around 100.
The club then began a sub-group five years ago called LPOC-West, which also takes students on trips, but they must sign a contract stating they will partake in random drug testing.
"It's done, I think, seven trips," McMullen said of LPOC-West. "The closest we ever went was Colorado."
The group has taken two sailing trips each to the Bahamas and Virgin Islands. They've also gone on skiing trips to France and Austria, and are anticipating a trip to Switzerland in the next couple weeks.
In regards to the drug testing, McMullen said there has only been positive tests, and all results are kept confidential.
In a few months, Clark said a prevention needs assessment will take place in Essex County, to look for a change in risk behavior in students.
"As important as the numbers is the attitudes," she said. "What do kids believe about their peers? And what do they believe about their family and their family rules? What are the consequences?"
For more information about any of these groups, visit ConnectingYouth.com.