Life is all about the choices we make—the good and the bad. It may be a long time before we know the outcome of those choices, but sometimes we know right away what the results will be.
We are faced with a choice today concerning the future of Camp Woodson, a therapeutic alternative-treatment program for delinquent youth in North Carolina. Since 1976, Camp Woodson—part of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention—has provided an opportunity for juvenile offenders to learn more productive skills in planning, decision making and problem solving. Through the wilderness-adventure program, youthful offenders have had a chance to learn how to make better choices in their lives [with] immediate, long-term and lasting benefits.
These benefits have been confirmed by Camp Woodson’s record of successfully transitioning youthful offenders from the juvenile-justice system to their home communities with a recidivism rate of only 22 percent. The national average for adolescents in detention centers is 50 percent.
Now, the DJJDP is on the verge of eliminating Camp Woodson. At this time, the upcoming budget considerations do not include Camp Woodson.
Today, the choice is up to us whether or not to support the youth of North Carolina through the successful program of Camp Woodson. Please make a choice for these children, who so desperately need our help, [by supporting] a program that may make a monumental difference in their lives. Please choose to let your senator, representative and governor know that Camp Woodson should be kept in the upcoming budget.
We will know right away the result of the budget choice our government representatives make: If Woodson is eliminated from the budget, the youthful offenders from all over the state will have lost possibly the best opportunity they could have ever had to turn their lives around. However, if Woodson is kept in the budget, these children will know that without a doubt, someone is fighting for them to have the opportunity of a better life.
Thank you for any support you can provide for the youth of North Carolina.
— Alicia Burgess
Editor’s note: Camp Woodson is based in Swannanoa and operates activities in and around Western North Carolina.