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News & Views - Jun, 1996 Issue #40 

April 14-17, 1996
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
by: Archie Buie

Nearly two hundred individuals and more than thirty organizations were represented at the third annual NATWC Conference held in Arkansas, April 14th thru 17th. As has been the hallmark of each of the conferences, people from all over the United States met to talk shop, smooze, and even look for work. 

Many of the organizations are from the Eastern US generally, but we also had a larger number of organizations from the West this time. The workshops were great, the Internet reared it's flaming new head (NATWC is developing a web-site and call me if you want to be on it) and all the many years of isolation seemed very far away as the camp staff got to know each other and found it good to be talking with people that did not have to have their work explained to them. 

It was fitting that the principal speaker was Dr. Grover Loughmiller, Ph.D., son of long term therapeutic wilderness camp creator, Campbell Loughmiller. Dr. Loughmiller drew a respectful but vivid picture of life with a father who demanded and gave only the best in his lifework. Those of us who have spent a large amount of our time in this work could appreciate all the decisions that had to come from conviction and principle since he was inventing a whole new way to deal with troubled children, from scratch. He had no record to run on. 

It became even more apparent than in the past that NATWC needs to plan its annual conference so that it doesn't conflict with IECA (Independent Educational Consultant Association). This is clear since many consultants refer to Camps and would benefit from being able to attend both conferences annually and smooze up new places to place troubled kids. We need to reach out to them, and invite them to know more about NATWC programs. 

NATWC has developed a special Parents Camp Evaluation list of questions every parent should use while choosing a camp for their child. It lists in detail the questions a parent should ask when selecting a camp. This list is available from NATWC, 4270 Hambrick Way, Stone Mountain, GA 30083. NATWC also puts out a quarterly Newsletter, PATHWAYS, which comes with the annual individual membership of $40.00, or separately for $25.00 per year. 

A thorny future problem appeared on the horizon for therapeutic wilderness camps, in the form of certain assumptions that therapeutic wilderness camps might fall under the purview of the federal Interstate compact on the Placement of Children. This could be a very large problem for camps and parents if the federal government tells both that they must abide by this compact agreement. It is no large leap of the imagination to guess that the government will then bring in ALL camps in the US. Imagine how the ACA will react! This is a potential bomb that should be defused as quickly as practical and the NATWC board is working on plans to meet out needs. 

In general, the Compact is designed to protect children from being sent to other states to certain organizations which may not meet standards of care. As always a good idea becomes a bureaucratic nightmare when it ages at bit. Creeping coverage seems to be the order of the day. The organizations that were originally covered are not enough, more and more organizations are brought in, either by decree, or by court rulings. More on this later. 

NATWC got together originally to help each other. To stop re-inventing the wheel, to share in the development of future therapeutic wilderness camps, to get to know each other and raise standards in both camps and in direct care positions. The third annual conference was a clear indication that this is exactly what's happening. 

Copyright 1996, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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