Summer camp morphing into addictions treatment centre

Published on December 10, 2011
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."

arobinson@thetelegram.com Twitter: TeleAndrew