PROGRAMS FOR SERIOUSLY AT RISK YOUTH

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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!

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