Growing Up in Prescott in the '80s: Part II
Last week, in Part I of the interview, Cooper Carr reflected on his youth in Prescott and on his path to becoming a hotshot and a firefighter. Read Part II of the interview below for more about Cooper's youth and his concerns for youth today.
What made you stay in Prescott once you were free to go? Well, I did leave Prescott for a little while. I took some college classes in Flagstaff and in Boulder, Colo. During the off seasons from the Hotshot Crew I would also take long road trips to go rock climbing and snowboarding. But the reason I came back "home" is simple, I love it here. I love the people. My family is here as well as my friends. And I also love the town itself. We have wonderful events and traditions here. We have a great climate. We have a diverse landscape and beautiful trails that we can enjoy year round. And we have wonderful community members that are actively looking at our town and trying to find ways to improve our way of life here in Prescott. Like any town, we have are areas where we can improve but I believe that we can get there if we work together at it.
Do you remember how you felt as a teenager? Were you bored? Happy? Hopeful? Scared? Impatient? Angry? Connected? Isolated? When I was a teen I definitely felt all of these emotions every single week. Fortunately for me, I have always had a strong support system to deal with the negative emotions when I was growing up. I know that this is NOT the case for every teen in our town, I worry for these teens because if I had not had a strong support system on my side I don't know if I would have made it through to adulthood successfully.
How do you think youth were seen in Prescott when you were growing up? I always felt that the spectrum of how I was viewed as a teen was quite vast. Us teens had our allies whom which we knew would support us and be there to guide us. We also knew that we had adults in the community who saw us as a constant burden on the town. I will admit at sometimes we were, without a doubt. But you know what? When they were teens ... SO WERE THEY! I do remember a notable point of friction betweens adults and teens in this town. When I was in high school there was an override bill for high school athletics on the ballot. A 'yes' vote meant that high school athletic funding would continue with a very, very small increase in taxes (I apologize for not having the exact figure in front of me but it has been about 17 years.) I want to say it was somewhere in the range of a few dollars or less. And our local town voting population felt that that was more than they could handle and the override failed, resulting in each teen having to come out of pocket $50 per sport that they wanted to play for their local school. This vote left all of my peers that I spoke to at PHS with a sense of embarrassment and isolation from our adult population. It also led to doubts as to weather or not certain teens could continue to participate in high school athletics. I know because I was one of them. It was really hard for my family to come up with that kind of money and during school and sports, most of us working teens literally didn't have the time to hold a job throughout the school year and athletic season. When I think back on this event that took place in Prescott I still feel resentment.
Was there an adult with whom you connected? Someone who made a difference for you? Yes, my mother. She was always there for me without hesitation. As well as my dad (my mother re-married when I was in second grade). On top of my family I had many great coaches and bosses in town to lead me down the path of success. Thank God!
Cooper, you played sports. What role did that activity play in your life and how you felt about growing up? Sports were massive for me. Without them I don't know where I would have ended up. It makes me worried for our youth in town who are not that into athletics. Some of our teens are not that interested in sports and there is nothing wrong with that. My concern is that without sports to fill their time and energy, I don't know what resources are available to our youth to express themselves and to find their way. I feel like it is an issue that we as adults need to find a solution for in order to help our kids pursue their success.
What are your hopes for or concerns about kids growing up in Prescott today? My hopes for our youth in Prescott are that we can actively take advantage of all of the great things that Prescott has to offer and make them accessible to all of our teens in our area regardless of race, class, gender or religion. As well as increase the resources that teens have to achieve their own personal, and professional goals. As far as my concerns for our youth go. I am concerned that all of us adults sometimes forget that, put quite simply ... Its hard to be a teen. It always has been. And I believe that it is harder now for teens than it was when I grew up here a short time ago. I hope that us adult can keep this in the front of our mind when we address certain issue that have to do with our local youth population. They are going to screw up, and make mistakes. JUST LIKE WE DID. And they are going to need guidance and support repeatedly. This is reality, and it is nothing new or tragic. But what is tragic is, when you have teens with the massive potential to achieve something great. But we as adults failed to provide the resources needed for them to make it happen.
What do you think is different about growing up in Prescott today? I think that Prescott like most other towns in America has grown significantly and has become less safe for all of us. I believe that we are losing our sense of community more and more. I think that for kids to be given the freedom to ride bikes all over town for the entire day as I did is a bit farfetched. I think that with these restrictions on youth to stay close to home and not venture out beyond their neighborhood has caused our youth to face levels of boredom that I could never imagine when I was growing up here. I also believe that without the safe passage to exploring new things and different places in town it doesn't spark our kids minds to be as creative or adapt to unknown situations that we used to face when we would see some new part of town or a different part of the forest growing up. It is these types of reasons that I believe the youth will need support from us more than ever to provide these new experiences and platforms that they deserve for our youth to grow and learn here in town.
How do you see today's teenagers contributing to the community? I see them contributing by helping out at certain events such as the Whiskey Off Road and other town events that our teens are interested in. However, I believe that there is a lot of potential for our teens to contribute in a much higher capacity to our community in many ways as long as they feel wanted by our town and supported by adults. I think that there is a bit of a "stand off" between the young and old of our town. As far as who started the "Prescott stand off" doesn't really matter. But as far as who can take the first step at mending it.......... I believe that it would fall on us to take that step because, after all we're the adults.