Youth Camp leader soothes concerns over discipline practices

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PICKENS CO., S.C. (WSPA) — One of the leaders of an out- of- state youth home says their plans are progressing for a plot of land in Pickens County.

Monday, he soothed some concerns about how discipline will be carried out once a Christian youth camp is up and running in the Sunset area of the county as early as this Fall. 

The National Center for Life and Liberty in Florida partnered with Freedom Village in New York to open a youth therapy camp on 38 acres of rural land on Hannah Grace Place.

Freedom Village has faced scrutiny in the past, mostly from former camp residents and employees for using punitive-type discipline like making teens carry wood for long periods of time.

Jonathan Bailie, executive director of Hannah Grace Homes, said punitive methods won’t be used in Pickens County and defended Freedom Village as a well-established Christian ministry that’s helped tens of thousands of teens over 40 years.

“There’s always going to be naysayers along the way but we do believe we’re on the same page with what we’re doing in South Carolina,” said Bailie. 

“We will not be utilizing punitive methodology when it comes to punishment,” he continued. “This is going to be something the community is excited about as they see the kids being involved in Pickens County even in Greenville County.”

Pickens County Council Chairman Roy Costner said he has not received any calls about concerns over plans for the youth camp and will continue to follow developments in the permitting process. 

“We’re gonna do our due diligence to make sure they’re doing what’s right and fair by the people that live there,” Costner told 7News via phone Monday. 

If the South Carolina Department of Social Services approves the camp’s application and all county permits are passed, Bailie said they could be ready to accept teenagers this Fall. 

Bailie said the camp will not be a place for foster kids and said this will be a private camp where parents choose to send their children and pay for them to attend. 

Bailie said most kids they serve have experienced trauma and abuse in their childhoods and need therapy and lessons on how to cope and become productive adults.

7News was unable to connect with leaders from Freedom Village on Monday but spoke with Pastor Fletcher Brothers via phone last week. 

Brothers explained his motivation for moving to the Upstate and said South Carolina is more in line with his vision and politics and has wanted to expand into the South for awhile.
 

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