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Evaluating the Effects of the Wendigo Lake Expedition Program on Young Offenders

NCJ Number
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 185-203
Keith C. Russell
Date Published
April 2006
19 pages
This case study evaluated the effects of the Wendigo Lake Expeditions (WLE), a continuous intake, open custody positive development program for juvenile offenders in Canada.
Overall, evaluation results revealed significant improvements in youth well-being, demonstrated by score reductions on the Youth-Outcome Questionnaire (Y-OQ), particularly in the Interpersonal Relations and Social Problems domains. Improved well-being suggests that the WLE was successful in teaching youths how to better manage their anger and get along with others. Youth were satisfied with the WLE program, rating it high on a variety of factors including school program, challenge activities, and staff. Of the 40 youth contacted post-program, 53 percent had been charged with a criminal offense during the follow-up period (follow-up periods averaged 16.3 months after program completion) while 47 percent had not recidivated. The findings suggest that programs using a positive youth development approach that offers an integrated strategy based on behavioral, social, and cognitive perspectives may be appropriate, safe, and effective for similar types of youthful offenders. A case study methodology was adopted that included an examination of student perceptions of the process, objective measures of outcomes, and secondary sources describing prior youth disposition. All 57 youth sentenced to the WLE program during June 2002 through June 2003 were evaluated. Follow-up contacts with 40 of the youths were conducted during a 1-week period in July 2004. All participants completed the Y-OQ during intake and at program completion. Limitations of the study include a lack of a control group. Follow-up research should continue to explore programs such as WLE, which use a positive youth development approach to juvenile justice and rehabilitation. Tables, references