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Pupils get a glimpse of boot-camp program for delinquents



Published: Sat, May 26, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Franklin, Pa., treatment facility is the last alternative before jail, a director of theprogram said.

By TIM YOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- A group of Girard pupils was warned Friday to keep out of trouble, or else.

"Stay in school, stay away from drugs and do something for your community," Col. Jim Rowan, chief administrator at VisionQuest, told the seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders at the high school.

VisionQuest is a program for juvenile delinquents that operates a boot camp at Camp Charles Young in Franklin, Pa.

During the presentation, 29 members of the camp's 4th Platoon of 2001 demonstrated marching drills. The platoon members have nearly completed the 90-day camp.

"Be accountable for your actions," Rowan, a retired army colonel, told the pupils. "People will rate you -- the value of your integrity.

Michael Kolic of Girard, VisionQuest program director, termed the camp "a treatment facility for juvenile delinquents who have been kicked out of every other facility."

"It's the last stop before prison," Kolic said in explaining the military-type training.

VisionQuest is based in Tucson, Ariz., and has facilities there, in Chambersburg, Pa., Oklahoma City and outside Orlando, Fla.

The boot camp is for 13- to 18-year-olds and can include up to a year of aftercare after the 90-day camp.

Routine: The uniformed teens start their day at 5 a.m. and end it at 7:30 p.m. Their days consist of classroom study, cleaning, marching and therapy for those who were abused, reared by addicts and those who are substance abusers themselves.

"The focus is on regimentation," explained Kolic, a Girard High School graduate.

"The camps tear the kid down and build his self-esteem back up," he said, adding that 85 percent of the teens come from dysfunctional families.

The facilities don't have fences. If an inmate decides to leave, they know they'll return to court as an adult rather than a juvenile.

"I don't believe in confining kids," said Kolic, a former corrections officer.

State Rep. Anthony Latell of Girard, D-67th, said he attended the Friday program to learn more about the boot camp "because we'll be taking a look at that" on the state level.

Gary Lees, a probation officer at the Trumbull County Family Court, pointed out the state does not operate a boot camp, but said they have been successful in rehabilitating juvenile delinquents.

Latell said he was impressed with the teens from the camp "because they're not used to being told what to do."




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