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La Porte boot camp gives troubled teens 2nd chance

By Darla Hernandez, Reporter , DHernandez@wsbt.com
Published On: Dec 19 2013 07:01:09 PM CST

Teenage boys, who've had run-ins with the law, are getting a second chance to turn around their lives by attending a boot camp program in La Porte. WSBT's Darla Hernandez has the story.

LA PORTE -

 From the outside it looks like a military training base. But when you step inside, Camp Summit Boot Camp in La Porte is more like a second chance training base for young boys.

The Department of Corrections decides which teens will serve at Camp Summit. It's a medium risk facility, but they do have certain restrictions.

Because of close quarters no sex offenders are allowed, and with the extreme daily physical challenges, all the boys have to meet health standards required by a doctor.

It's an extreme program with extremely positive results.

For six months, these young men will be pushed to the edge physically and academically.

Various students say, "I got kicked out of school for gang graffiti" or "I made a bad choice, holding a stolen handgun." 

That's the past and this is the present for dozens of young boys who now call Camp Summit home.

The day starts at 7 a.m. with intense basic training. 

Following that, core academics begin. Group and individual counseling are also a priority here.

"We address the deficits that they bring with them whether it's education, whether they have issues with anger management or substance abuse. We address all of those issues and then we blend that with a military model that instills discipline, self control, respect and responsibility" Cecil Davis, superintendent at the camp says. 

Andrew Mullins, who's from LaPorte, says Camp Summit gave him more than discipline. He now has hope.

"Before I came here…I always gave up on myself," Mullins says. "I was always being negative, drinking, and throwing my life away."

The boot camp started back in 1995, and currently, they have about 72 students enrolled. By the time the students leave, they have a 95 percent academic increase by two grade levels. 

The superintendent says this program has a crime relapse rate of only 28 percent--lower than the national average.

"Officer Bryce and Bruce--they are really positive people. They don't knock you down they just help make yourself stronger--make you a better,” Tajay Gibson from East Chicago, Indiana says.

Students say Camp Summit is their salvation.

"Without this opportunity I probably would be in jail,” Mullins says. “A different type of jail--maybe even dead."

Mullins says because of boot camp he now has plans for a bigger and better future. He says he wants to graduate high school and hopefully go to college to study psychology.

It costs a little over $4 million a year to run camp Summit.