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A recent article “Building Strengths through Adventure Education” authored by his son, Grover, highlighted the pioneering work of Campbell Loughmiller. For 20 years he ran a year-round residential camp for seriously disturbed boys from age 8 to 18. I was stunned by the description and power of their humane approach to totally turn around deeply troubled youth and make them into good citizens over a period of some 16 months. The boys initially far behind with academic skills caught up (without classes) and became eager to return to their formerly hated school as newly competent individuals. The program is described in Campbell Loughmiller’s excellent first book Wilderness Road and summarized in his second book Kids in Trouble also excellent.

I read both books years ago and was inspired by the paradigm shift this approach represented for treating delinquent and expelled students. I was equally dismayed by the lack of interest by special education staff when I recommended the books. The article appeared in a highly recommended journal, Reclaiming Children and Youth (spring, 2007) published by Crisis Prevention Institute which is dedicated to “strength-based interventions” and nonviolent handling of disruptive and assaultive behavior.

These materials, the journal and the books, are among the wisest and best thinking about growth of all youth not just kids with problems. Highly recommended books!

One Response

  1. Thank you for these great book suggestions. This is such an important discussion. I recently came across this competition that really focuses on empowering and valuing youth as a key part to addressing this issue.

    Ashoka’s Changemakers in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is hosting the competition to find the best innovations addressing youth at risk and youth empowerment. There is 5000$ for the top 3 innovations and a trip to the Change Summit for the top 15 finalists! Lastly, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will be looking directly at the competition for potential recipients of $1 million dollars worth of their funding!

    The competition deadline is January 23rd and you can join the Changemakers social entrepreneur community at

    Please let me know if you have any thoughts on great organizations or individuals that are empowering and engaging youth.

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