The Bannock County Sheriff’s Office is giving dozens of at-risk kids a few nights under the stars, to try to keep them from a life behind bars.
Rather than spending some time in a juvenile corrections facility, some young offenders have been sentenced to campfires, hotdog roasts and obstacle courses.
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielson said the point isn’t punishing kids who’ve broken the law, it’s doing whatever works in getting through to them.
“We see kids who have graduated from this who go on and quote this as some of the turning points in their life,” Nielson said.
Along with juvenile offenders, others at the camp are at risk kids, selected by schools or the Department of Health and Welfare.
According to the sheriff’s office, the camp costs between $8,000 and $10,000 to run.
The sheriff said keeping one juvenile offender in prison for one year can cost up to $100,000.
“the money we spend on forty-five kids, as compared to the cost if we don’t spend that, I think is quite equitable,” Nielson said.
Nielson said the plan is to change how these kids view themselves and law enforcement.
“We can correct them now. The cement isn’t even dry. To take off any kind of issue, all you have to do is smooth it out. If we wait until that cement dries you have to take a chisel and hammer, and you still have a scar,” Nielson said.
The Sheriff’s Camp is for kids between 10-13 years old.
This is it’s 12th year in operation.