Boys coming back to China Spring

While the boys have been gone from China Spring Youth Camp for the past four months, the girls never left. China Spring Photo

While the boys have been gone from China Spring Youth Camp for the past four months, the girls never left. China Spring Photo


After four months, the boys are trickling back to China Spring Youth Camp starting next week.

After a fiscal roller coaster that included budget cuts by the state and a reduction of Medicaid reimbursements, the boys side camp is coming back to life, slowly.

Budget cuts forced the camp to close the boys’ portion in July, though Aurora Pines, which helps girls, remained open through the year.

“We’re starting with two and then two more,” Camp Director Wendy Garrison said. “We’re going to go in twos until we’re up to the level we can handle.”

Garrison said Friday morning that’s going to be no more than 20.

“We’ll trickle them back in and then evaluate it going into December,” she said.

China Spring serves 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties. Clark County operates a boot camp at Spring Mountain.

“We have almost full staffing,” Garrison said. “The two kids that are waiting to come have started their program in detention in order to help out their county and the kid.”

The girl’s side of the camp has nine students assigned.

Garrison said the entire state is seeing a reduction in juvenile referrals. She said that Spring Mountain, which typically has a population of closer to 100, was down to around 20 at the beginning of September.

“Schools are the No. 1 referral source, because they spend so much time with the kids, they are the first to notice if something is wrong,” she said. “With the schools in and out, we’re not getting the referrals we would be.”

Garrison thanked county commissioners for the $97,000 budget bump they approved for the camp last month.

Negotiations are underway through a working group conducted by the Nevada Association of Counties to supply the camp with a regular budget.

Each county in the state outside of Clark supports the camp based on their overall student population. Negotiations with the other counties are focusing on altering that formula to reflect each county’s actual use of the camp. The two new students are coming from Carson and Lyon County.

Douglas uses the camp more than some of the other counties, and generally accounts for 14.4 percent of the students, compared to Washoe’s 37.11 percent. Garrison said some counties have not agreed to increase their share of the cost and that there still isn’t a solid solution to funding the camp starting July 1, 2022.

The governor’s budget 2021-22 called for cutting $1.2 million in the state’s support for the camp. Combined with $800,000 in lost Medicaid revenues after the coronavirus outbreak’s resulting in a reduction of students, that meant the camp was looking at making up $2 million.

A compromise at the Legislature reduced the cut to $400,000 each year over the next three years while a committee reviews the program.

County Manager Patrick Cates told commissioners last month that reversing those cuts will be a focus for the 2023 Legislature.

China Spring is not a boot camp, and offers several programs, including training, classes, services and therapy for trauma, commercial sexual exploitation, domestic violence and anger management.

China Spring also offers behavioral healthcare services, including services for people who have a substance use disorder as well as a mental health disorder.

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.

The camp closed for two years but reopened after being redesigned by District Judge Norm Robison, who helped build the structure.

Aurora Pines was added to house girls in 2002.

The camp accepts offenders ages 12-18. Those juveniles sent to China Spring cannot be convicted of a felony. The camp’s capacity is around 60.


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