Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 14, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Tuesday, January 14, 1975 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 19 Ask the lad who lives there Cow Camp school 4not like American reformatory' By U'ARCY HICKARD Herald District Editor BROOKS Now that Cow Camp wilderness school teacher Jeff Smith faces deportation Jan. 17, a lot of people are asking what the school is all about. To find out, talk with boys at Cow Camp. Trip Gabriel, 19, of New York has been at Cow Camp for about one week. It's a change for him. A few days ago he was jostling along the .busy streets in lower Manhattan. Now he is facing each day in the serene surroundings of Cow Camp, 55 miles northeast of here on the Vee Bar Vee Ranch. Interviewed at the school, Mr. Gabriel said: "I have always been interested in simple living. Rural. You know, without all the electricity, super factory type atmosphere of most institutions, of most urban environments. "But also, I think there is something even more im- portant you are living with just maybe 10 or 15 people. You know, living here would be just much more like living in all the time, rather than being in a big school with maybe a couple thousand. "It is a total commitment. You are living, you are working. "It is not like you go to school .with certain people five or six hours each day. You walk through the city. There are millions of people you don't know. You see your family. Compartmentalize yourself. "You have got so much competition of people you see during the day, different things claiming your attention during the day. "i mean, this is the way I would like to live." Then we talked with Tom Walaski, 16, of Newport, H.I. Do you mind me saying you were in a reform school Tom? "No, I don't mind." What's it like? "You are with the same people who are doing all the same stuff (petty You keep doing it just to be in with the crowd... all my old friends are in pretty serious trouble now." Will you get in trouble when you go back to the city? "Could, maybe. Maybe not." Teacher Jeff Smith studied anthropology at Har- vard, then taught prisoners in an experimental program at Walpole State Prison at Massachusetts for a year. Cow Camp, and its sister school Redington Pond in Maine, are owned and operated by a private, non profit corporation, Academix Incorporated, registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. What would you say, Jeff, if you were writing this story about Cow Camp? "I would talk about the need for it in Alberta. We have said from the word go that we have wanted to in- volve Canadians in it." CABINS BEING RESTORED AT CAMP TONY GEORGE ROLLS HIS OWN JIM RICH, LEFT, AND BILL SNYDER WITH HOGS BEING FED AT THE CAMP Mr. Smith has a unique idea. He wants to build a series of alternative, environmental schools for students who do not fit conventional school programs, and to refit such students for the educational mainstream or for productive and creative lives. "If you are a young fellow, been in trouble and maybe 15 or 16 years old it takes time to straighten yourself says Mr. Smith. "What they have now is a whole series of short term programs, usually for a month or so, two or three months, until the immediate problem gets solved. "The system is pretty intimidating. You get a youth, say his father dies, or his father has a drinking problem at home. The boy has a learning disability or he goes to an overcrowded school. Maybe he is in with a bad group of friends. That is a primary reason for getting involved in delinquency negative peer pressure. Half the kids here just have learning disabilities. A learning problem, period. They can't function in a conventional school." Jim Rich, 22, one of four boys who formed the pilot group and spent a summer at the Vee Bar Vee Ranch in 1973, says: "The place works. You can see how it works. YOU can see people growing up, sort of getting themselves together." He's from Boston. Cow Camp students manage their own lives. They cook, clean, and build log cabins to provide their own shelter. The day begins at 7. They haul water from the Red Deer River for horses and pigs. Meals are prepared, and dishes are done, by everyone. The school bakes its own bread, grows its own vegetables and raises its own pork. Work is required. Classes in math, English and biology are offered in the morning. Afternoons are spent on motorcycles, horseback, at the river in summer or skating in winter. Repairs and additions to the Cow Camp buildings have required months of painting, carpentry and general construction. Short stories are read each evening. The school can be saved if the Alberta government will write a letter of endorsement to immigration authorities in Ottawa. A Canadian board of trustees is being formed. A tuition of per 12 month year is assessed on a sliding scale; families pay what they can. "The word from Ottawa always has been 'the minute you get any endorsement, it is a new ball game' The writing appeared on the wall back in November, 1973. Dick Mead, acting director of the homes and in- stitutions branch of the department of health and social development, opposed licensing the school un- der the Welfare Homes Act. He said: "The lack of structured program makes it unacceptable to us as a viable rehabilitative facility it is impossible for children under 16 years of age to attend school from the camp and this is, therefore, in violation of The Child Welfare Act and the School Act of Alberta." Counters Mr. Smith: "I saw the need for it, having been in two great universities (Yale and then having seen private school from inside and out- side, as a student and a teacher. And the shock that comes from teaching for a year in a men's peniten- tiary." A board of directors sets policy and undertakes fund raising. It includes Russell Moore of the Harvard Business School, Lawrence Flood and John Madden of the First National Bank of Boston, the Rev. and Mrs. William Sloane Coffin of Yale University, Sam Chauncey, secretary of Yale University, Ted Sizer, headmaster of Phillips Academy, Andover, the Rev. Howard Fish of Lawrenceville School, Dr. Irven DeVore of Harvard University, John Holt, author and educationist (How Children Learn, How Children Fail, The Under achieving School) Sam Zemurray of Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Wade Stephens of Lawrenceville School, Jim Near of the First Bank of Lewiston and Lisbon Falls in Maine and Blair Gay, manager of the Vee Bar Vee Ranch. South In short Airport wants hangers, manager TABEH (HNS) The establishment of aircraft servicing facilities at the municipal airport, and the recent installation of runway lighting, has spurred an interest in aviation with a number of airplane purchases by district residents. The impetus for flying has prompted the airport ad- ministration committee to make a number of recommendations to the town council. Proposals for erection of private hangars on town leased land brought a recommendation of a lease rental rate to in- dividuals of per front foot (facing the parking apron) per annum. The committee recommended that Wray Tsuji of W.-T. Aviation Services Ltd. be made airport manager. Also recommended is the installation of two yard lights at the hangar area. A local service club will be requested to paint a conven- tional "air likely on the roof of the community centre. The marker will identify the community, and show the direction and distance to the airport. The third annual fly in breakfast will take place at the air- port in the W. T. hangar June 15. Last year's committee chairman Cpl. Maurice Marsh is being requested by the ad- ministration committee to again head the project. If organized, a local flying club will handle future fly in programs. Dinner to be next fall TABER (HNS) The town of Taber will host its elected and appointed leaders and their partners, at an appreciation dinner to be held next November. Councillor Helen Wentz was named by council as a com- mittee of one to make all arrangements for the dinner. Included in the invitation list are the mayor and members of council, members of the public library board, the municipal planning commission, the recreation board, and the industrial development committee. Cabaret at Blairmore planned BLA1RMORE (CNP Bureau) The Blairmore Lions Club will hold cabaret nights Feb. 1 and March 2 with the Lighterman Orchestra supplying the music. Tickets are available from Lions. Proceeds will help pay for the whirlpool bath purchased by the Lions for the hospital and nursing home. TRUCK SALE INDOORS NERSON'S Downtown on 4th Ave. "You'll save hundreds on the cleanest cars in town." Pontiac Buick G.M.C.