More than 80 former employees, community members and local dignitaries converged on the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp Friday March 7 to honor some 63 years of public service to the local community.
Pine Grove YCF Superintendent Mike Roots said the day was full of surprises. One individual who had worked at the camp briefly during the 1950s also visited and shared stories of his time working at the location. City of Ione mayor Andrea Bonham also arrived and participated in some of the activities, watching the young firefighting crew going through training maneuvers. Bob Butterfield, who served as camp superintendent from 1982-1986 also stopped by to see how much had changed – and not changed –about the camp since his time as superintendent.
"The support we receive from the Amador County community we serve has just been exceptional," Roots said. "This was our opportunity to thank them back with our open house and the lunch prepared by the wards."
The Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp is jointly operated with CAL Fire as an equal partner. DJJ staff is responsible for the custody, supervision and treatment of wards. CAL Fire Officers plan and supervise work projects performed by the wards. DJJ officials screen and accept low risk classification wards from more secure facilities. Training is provided by CAL Fire (formerly CDF) and wards are certified to engage in wild land firefighting operations as part of a Type One Hand Crew.
Ward camp crews, each led by a fire captain (CAL Fire), provide a variety of conservation services to state and local government agencies. The education programs are in the evenings after work. All non-high school graduates participate in GED preparation, a high school program, or basic skills. The aim is completion of educational requirements for normal entry-level employment. Each camp also has a formal drug program offering various treatment modalities.
Fire crews from DJJ camps perform about 180,000 hours of fire suppression services in a "normal" year for the people of California.