HAMPSTEAD — Hampstead -- Like an ant hill full of busy workers, the sprawling Four Seasons Fitness Center barely contain the constant flow of energy as 265 teens danced, played sports, hot-tubbed and flirted.
They dashed from soccer field to locker room to dance floor, refueling through the night with 43 pizzas, 600 doughnuts and a van-load of snack foods, washed down by gallons of soft drinks, milk and juice.
"We're drinking enough Coke to last us a week," said Leah Rock, 14, a freshman at Westminster High School. It was midnight, and she was toweling off from a dip in the hot tub, planning the caffeine strategy that she figured would keep her awake enough to take full advantage of the marathon party.
Although some of the teens complained they had to wait too long to use the tennis courts and other sport spaces, the crowd suited Leah and other socializers just fine.
"Some of us who didn't come for just soccer are very pleased," she said.
The "Lock-in" was sponsored by the Teen Recreation Council, and the popularity of the first-time event indicates a repeat next year, said Lisa Sasala, special programs coordinator for the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The party started at 9 p.m. Saturday and lasted until parents came to pick up their children at 6 a.m. Sunday. The teens weren't allowed to leave during the party, so their parents could rest assured they would be safely off the roads.
None of the teens at the party said they resented the sheltering aspects of the lock-in, such as being required to stay all night, to get permission from their parents and to have bags checked at the door for alcohol or drugs -- none was found, Sasala said, not even in the garbage afterward.
"I think it was good," said Westminster sophomore Tara Hopper of the bag check for contraband, "because I know a lot of people who would have brought it in. At some parties, you drink beer because there's nothing else to do."
There was plenty to do at Four Seasons, with everything but the weight room and tanning beds open to the youth, plus movies on a large-screen television television in the aerobics room. Teens stretched out on the padded and carpeted floor for "Kentucky Fried Movie," "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and more.
"It's kind of nice -- you can stay out all night and not get in trouble," said Adam Klohr, 17, a senior at Westminster High.
He and Laurie Rogers, 16 and a junior at Westminster, were a little disappointed at having to wait so long to get a tennis court -- their main reason for coming. They arrived together, but both hesitated to call it a date.
Although Rogers said she felt the party was too crowded, she admitted she wasn't planning to attend until she heard a lot of other students were.
"I wasn't going to go at first until I found out other people were going," she said. "Everyone was saying, 'Are you going to the lock-in? Are you going to the lock-in?' "
Klohr and Rogers were among the few upperclassmen at the party. Freshmen and sophomores seemed to dominate.
Unable to drive, most of them said that ifthey weren't at the lock-in, they'd probably have been stuck at homeor at Cranberry Mall spending too much money on fast food and movies. They said they rely on school basketball and other games for weekend night life and try not to groan as their parents all but escort them to the gym doors.
Westminster High sophomore Kristen Mauldin, 15, said there are few low-cost activities for teens in the county. With movies costing almost $10 if you throw in a soda or popcorn, she said, the $10 advance fee for the lock-in, and even the $15 fee for late registration, was very reasonable.
She was particularly happy about seeing a North Carroll High boy she had met a few weeks ago in the library.
"Between my sports and his sports and other things we were doing, we haven't seen each other since," she said. "I can see him here."
Charles "Chuck" MacReady, a 16-year-old junior at South Carroll High, was one of a few teens who came late to the lock-in because of work. He got off a half-hour early from the Harvest Inn in Eldersburg and got to the lock-in at midnight.
Although he arrived alone, he had no worries about staying that way for long.
"I'll find someone," he said. "Maybe meet a girl, exchange phone numbers or something."
As parent-chaperon Paul Hinsche of Winfield watched the blur of teens go past his post between the two indoor racquetball courts, he marveled at their boundless energy.
"I'd like to be around here at 4 or 5 in the morning," he said at about midnight. He and wife, Shirleen, worked the 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. chaperon shift, then returned at 6 a.m. to pick up son Tim, 14, a South Carroll High freshman.
Shirleen Hinsche had the non-stop task of refilling soda cups from behind the Four Seasons bar in the lounge.
"They have put away more Cokes. . . . I have one guy that I swear I filled his cup for Sprite six times," she said. "He was playing soccer or something. He was really thirsty."
The lounge offered the teens all the amenities of a grown-up bar, minus the liquor. There was a pool table, video games, bowls of popcorn and chips along the bar, a dance floor and boomingmusic.
A disc jockey played everything from rap music to some Beatles and Led Zeppelin tunes older than most of the teens in the building.
Paul Hinsche's parental instincts were right on target. Sure enough, the teens wound down after all, at just about the time he hadpredicted.
"They started to die about 4:30 a.m. -- the TV room got increasingly crowded," Parks and Recreation's Sasala said. "We had had doughnuts around a quarter to 4. At 5 a.m., I got everyone together in the aerobics room and talked about the Teen Recreation Council and passed out evaluations.
"I started to hear, 'How much longer till we can go home? Are they (our parents) coming yet?' For the last hour, they were pretty much zombies."