SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A group of at-risk San Francisco teenagers are heading off to Camp Mather in the High Sierras on Thursday, part of a new Recreation and Parks Department program aimed at turning the troubled youth into civic leaders.

The teens range from 14 to 17 years old and are seen as risks to join gangs or a life of crime.

Because of the environment they have grown up in, many of them know little to nothing about the outdoors.  But Phil Ginsburg, head of the Recreation and Parks Department, said all that is about to change.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

“This is going to be a completely different environment than even some of the city’s toughest kids are used to,” he said.

While outdoor activities like hiking, archery and swimming may not seem out of the ordinary to most people, for the participating teens, it is something that’s very new and very different.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he found that out at a pre-camp orientation last week.

“If it’s successful, and I want it to be, why not lift them out for a week, out of the hardcore nature of our streets and give them an opportunity to be exposed to positive things,” Lee said.

The camping trip to Camp Mather lasts four days and the youth who excel will be recruited for a leadership program and be invited back next summer to be camp counselors.

The camp will be free for the kids, part of a collaboration between various city departments, including Recreation and Parks and Juvenile Probation.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  1. Kathleen Hawkins says:

    This is an excellent way to treat these kids. No complaints from me about the money either. As far as I am concerned this is why I pay taxes and finally a plan to help kids, money well spent!

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