Project Challenge Is Just That For Local Teens

By: Jennifer Rogers
By: Jennifer Rogers

What would you do if your child is failing in school, in trouble with the law, and you can't control your son or daughter?

For some the only answer is boot camp.

In Jennifer Rogers' first installment of "Tough Love Academy" she follows a group of Nevada teens sent to an Arizona facility as they go for the test of their lifetime.

It's the same scene every morning at 4:30 . . . and it dosen't stop there.

Right after the startling wake-up call, 100 teenagers from both Nevada and Arizona suffer through an hour of physical training.

This is Project Challenge.

It's a military-based educational program where troubled teenagers, ages 16 - 18, get their lives back on track.

But how did they get there?

"I couldn't stand my mom. Another broken home story. I guess I just needed to get out of there," says Las Vegas teen Nicholas Williamson.

Says Luis Tellez of Reno: "I used to get in fights a lot and do drugs. So, I decided I had to do something to better my life."

When our Silver State group arrived at "Project Challenge" on July 13th, they didn't know what to think.

"Holy crap. What am I doing here?" asked Reno resident Amber Soto.

Asked Alastair Addie of Henderson: "What have I signed myself up for?"

"God, when is this going to end? Come on," said Chris White of Carson City.

And they didn't know quite what to think about the physical training.

"It wasn't what I expected. I didn't like being yelled at," says Craig Flanagan of Reno. "Your body isn't use to it. You feel like breaking down or falling down."

Tim Culver of Reno says: "I was nervous to have people screaming and yelling at you a whole bunch."

Really, there was only one thing each of them knew about Project Challenge.

"From what I had heard it was a boot camp. It was going to be a hard-core boot camp," says Nicholas Williamson of Las Vegas.

A boot camp-like program so vigorous some don't even make it through.

Fifteen Nevada teenagers started out in the program. Now there are only 10 left and they say it's no easy task.

Says one teen: "They give you a time limit on what you are going to do that day. You have to follow that structure. You have a certain time to eat and sleep. Then you wake up and do the same thing."

While their pasts are all slightly different, their mentality is the same . . . now each one wants to succeed.

Says Jamie Munoz of Sparks: "I want to change before it's too late."

"Wow. This is our journey for five months," says another teen.

Thursday we will bring you part two of the "Tough Love Academy."

Jennifer Rogers follows the teenagers when they visit with their families for the first time since they went to camp.


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