Boys side of China Spring Youth Camp will close due to staffing

The entrance to China Spring Youth Camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pinenut Mountains.

The entrance to China Spring Youth Camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pinenut Mountains. Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.


After a tumultuous year, the boys side of China Spring Youth Camp will close toward the end of June due to staffing issues.

“This was not an easy decision to make and one that came after we had exhausted all other options,” said Juvenile Camp Services Director Wendy Garrison. “We will continue to access possibilities which allow us to preserve line staff, keep beds available and continue all operations.”

The camp is operated by Douglas County and receives its funding from state, local and Medicaid contributions.

The governor’s budget called for a $1.2 million cut in state funding.

Coupled with an $800,000 cut in Medicaid reimbursements after the coronavirus prompted counties to keep their youthful offenders at home, that posed a significant hit to the camp’s budget.

A compromise in May reduced the cut to around $400,000, but the uncertainty over the intervening months led many of the camp’s staff members to seek other employment, District Judge Tod Young said.

Without sufficient people to ensure everyone’s safety, the only decision was to close the boys’ side of the camp temporarily while the administration retools.

The boys will be returned to the courts of their original jurisdiction. The camp serves 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties.

State officials argue that the camp should rely on the counties it serves for more of its funding.

As part of the negotiations at the Legislature, the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) will be convening a stakeholder working group in June to discuss the future of the camp. Membership will include representatives from the 16 counties, District Court judges, and the Legislature.  This group will review and discuss Camp programming, governance, reporting, and funding. 

The camp has helped thousands of children by offering counseling, substance abuse and mental health treatment. 

“Our goal is to give them the tools then need to make life in their home communities work, so they can avoid state custody,” Young said when Douglas County commissioners opposed the cuts.

One of the issues is that the state may be comparing China Spring with the Spring Mountain Youth Camp, which serves Clark County.

China Spring is located in the Pine Nut Mountains south of Highway 395. Originally opened on Aug. 1, 1983, the 40-acre camp site was donated by rancher Stoddard Jacobsen. Aurora Pines, which will remain open, was added to house girls in 2002.

The camp accepts offenders ages 12-18 from every county except Clark, which has its own juvenile program. Those juveniles sent to China Spring cannot be convicted of a felony. The camp’s capacity is around 60. 

For more information about China Spring Youth Camp, please visit https://


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