Boot camp supporters fall short by $140,000

Saturday, February 1, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Private fund-raising efforts have failed to come up with enough money to save a state-run juvenile boot camp from falling victim to government budget cuts.

The Show-Me Challenge camp run by the Missouri National Guard initially was to close Jan. 15. But the state agreed to give supporters of the Nevada, Mo., camp a few weeks to try to raise private donations.

Bill Ratliff, president of Friends of the Show-Me Challenge, said Friday that supporters raised just $200,000 of the $340,000 that would have been needed to hold the next session.

"If we did nothing we would have lost the program, so we gave it our best shot," said Ratliff, also a lieutenant colonel in the Missouri National Guard. "We tried. We just didn't have the money or time."

That deadline to raise the money had been extended until last Monday and again until Friday.

The governor's office said without the private funding, there was nothing the state could do reverse the camp closing.

The youth camp was operated through the National Guard's Camp Clark for about four years, serving a total of 830 youths. The military-style program ran in five-month segments focusing on self-discipline and respect. Afterward, youths worked with mentors for a year.

The free program was designed for youths 16-18 who had not finished high school and who were not on drugs.

Adj. Gen. Dennis Shull said he had little choice but to discontinue the program. The National Guard has been ordered to cut $500,000 from its annual budget without affecting the readiness of its military units.

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