Summer camp morphing into addictions treatment centre

Andrew Robinson
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Circle Square Ranch in C.B.S. is set to become an addictions treatment centre, according to a news release posted on the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador's website. The project is being spearheaded by Teen Challenge Canada, a not-for-profit Christian organization. - Telegram file photo

Christian not-for-profit organization Teen Challenge Canada is setting up an addictions treatment centre for young men at the site of a summer camp in Conception Bay South.

A longtime advocate for enhanced addictions treatment services in St. John's says if it benefits people, he's all for it.

"If they can help people, then great," said Ron Fitzpatrick, executive director of Turnings, a charitable organization offering support to former inmates.

According to a news release posted on the website of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador in September, Teen Challenge Canada has signed a deal to take over the property of Circle Square Ranch on Fowlers Road in C.B.S., west of Three Arm Pond.

The property is more than two kilometres from the nearest residential neighbourhood.

Expected to open in two or three years, the centre will have 25 beds for participants in its 12-month residential program. The news release claimed 70 per cent of program graduates do not return to drugs and alcohol.

There are already 17 Teen Challenge centres in Canada.

According to the news release, it offers a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program using skills and tools from secular programs for recovery and relapse prevention.

Based on his own experiences helping people struggling with addictions, Fitzpatrick said such problems are the result of deeper issues a person may or may not be aware of.

A chaplain, Fitzpatrick suspects a faith-based approach may not work for all addicts, as some are wary of organized religion. In the case of Turnings, which was originally known as the Metro Community Chaplaincy, he said a marketing company recommended a name change based on the knowledge that some potential clients saw the word "chaplaincy" in the title and felt hesitant to come on board.

"They came up with the name Turnings in trying to turn your life around," he said, noting that some people would refer to Metro Community Chaplaincy as a group run by "religious nutjobs."

Turnings does provide pastoral care and believes a person needs to be physically, spiritually and mentally healthy, said Fitzpatrick.

In a worst-case scenario, Fitzpatrick said, even if a person seeking help from Teen Challenge did not find its program suited them, it could encourage that person to seek help elsewhere.

"It's all leading to the greater good, which is that they get their lives restored," he said.

A representatives of Teen Challenge Newfoundland and Labrador was contacted by The Telegram and initially agreed to arrange an interview with Teen Challenge Canada director George Glover, who was recently in St. John's.

The representative later contacted The Telegram by email and said the group was not ready to discuss the project with the media.

In statements attributed to Glover in the news release, he said there is a demand for Teen Challenge services in Newfoundland and Labrador, adding young men and women from the province have already participated in its programs in other parts of Canada.

"Our purpose is to offer a safe and effective place for participants in the program to address the issues that led to their addiction and begin to rebuild their academic, vocational and life skills, and support networks," said Glover.

In an email sent to The Telegram, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Community Services said the province supports a variety of community groups and agencies, including Turnings, that address addictions recovery.

"Community groups offer an alternative approach to recovery and support for those dealing with addictions issues. Having options and opportunities for treatment is always a positive step." Twitter: TeleAndrew


Organizations: Metro Community Chaplaincy, The Telegram, Department of Health and Community

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador Conception Bay South Fowlers Road

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Recent comments

  • Dan Morand
    November 08, 2012 - 22:21

    I laugh at some of these posts...but more out of sadness. I attempted to bring Teen Challenge to NL almost 7 years ago and after a year of foolish resistance left for NewBrunswick where a centre was established within months and successfully operates to this day. Meanwhile, the problem in NL has increased, many more have died from their addiction and families have had to live with their children's poor choices. This is a "volunteer" program - THAT WORKS. If people are so resistance to God or faith then continue to die. It is one thing to argue and fight about something you believe in and quite another when you foolishly fight for no reason at all. Time to grow up and make mature decisions NL!

  • Scott
    December 12, 2011 - 11:14

    Addictions treatment centre, great. Faith-based using skills and tools from secular programs. Not so great, terrible actually. If that description is accurate then I doubt the skills and tools of secular programs that actually got the work done will be credited. That simply isn't the way of religion, my bet is that it'll be "Jesus fixed me" and that's it. Sorry, but I'm having difficulty seeing this as anything other than an indoctrination centre, preying upon the weak and vulnerable. As far as success rates, I'd like to see the results of some independent assessments rather than a self-reported number. As Mary said, this is a role for the Health system, not a religious institution.

    • Tim
      April 19, 2012 - 12:54

      I am trying hard not to bust my gut laughing at these comments! Some people are so opposed to organized religion that they don't agree with them stepping in to help addicts. Guess what Scott... no one is going to force anyone to go to this centre. If someone doesn't want faith-based intervention, then they can go elsewhere... oh wait, there's practically no where else to go! I'm all for Teen Challenge, I know people who have come through their program (successfully and unsuccessfully). Our country has freedom of religion and thank goodness, those who practice that right, are nice enough to try and help those who have addictions.

  • Jodi
    December 10, 2011 - 20:46

    Its about time that we have such treatment centres here. Our province needs to get with the times and hav emore services for youth and places like this for person living with mental illness. All other provinces have many more services in the community. With all the money coming into Newfoundland, our governemnt needsto seriously take a look at our community especially at youth with addiction to prescription drugs here now.. Its growing more and more..

  • Bob Snelgrove
    December 10, 2011 - 18:21

    What difference does it make if an organization is 'faith-based' or not? I think it's sad how that fact was qualified in the first sentence of the article, and seems to be the entire focus, however the fact that they have a 70% success rate is buried farther down, mentioned seemingly only in passing, and in a tone that the author doesn't really even believe it. How despicable, and what poor journalism. I'd be interested to know the success rate of Government programs? And also, why are we spending so much money building huge facilities in places like Paradise and Grand Falls-Windsor, when we have groups like this willing to open the doors right away? I say save a bit of money, make a donation to Teen Challenge, and allow them to do what they do best.

  • Go for it
    December 10, 2011 - 17:16

    There is a lot worse that could happen to many of those poor souls, and a worse choice they could make than finding religion - and many of those who enter through these doors already have found worse. There but for the grace of God go I - and many more....

  • mary
    December 10, 2011 - 15:35

    So, a young person will be evangelcized during a time of stress and vunerability. This is about converting people more than it is about helping those with addictions. The Health system should be providing addiction services and not a Evangelical Church or Religion.