Even if the state doesn’t eviscerate the budget for China Spring and Aurora Pines Youth Camps, Douglas County is preparing for eight layoffs at the camp located in the Pine Nut Mountains.
On Tuesday, the Assembly and Senate money committees split on whether to support a $1.2 million cut for the camp, that would reduce its support by 71 percent.
The camps serve every county but Clark, but a reluctance to send youth there during the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a significant reduction in Medicaid funding, which will affect the camps even if the state leaves their budget alone.
According to the Legislature, budget cuts will reduce the camps’ capacity from 56 to 20 youths, reducing the odds that young offenders from across Nevada will get the chance it offered. The reductions would result in the elimination of 16-18 positions at the camp.
The governor’s office and the Assembly want the 16 counties served by the camps to come up with a way to support them.
But we find it highly unlikely that Nevada’s counties will be able to come together on funding the camps and will instead stop sending their youthful offenders here contributing to its eventual demise.
Douglas County has put a lot of time and effort in making sure China Spring and Aurora Pines are well run. Camp staff were able to evacuate the youth during last summer’s Numbers Fire in the middle of the night, braving smoke and flames.
The camp has been helping youth aged 12-18 for more than 30 years and was a cause celebre in Douglas County through its early years.
Its site was donated by Stoddard Jacobsen and it was a legacy of District Judge Norm Robison who helped build it with his own hands.
China Spring has been symbolic of the kindness Douglas County shows to people in need, but more importantly it is a critical program for counties across the state that can’t afford their own.
Keeping China Spring open is a fight worth fighting and worth winning.