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Experiences at DARE Camp

2010-08-04T00:00:00Z Experiences at DARE CampBy ANGELA BRANDT Independent Record Helena Independent Record
August 04, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The most enjoyable part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education fifth-grade program for 11-year-old Taylor Mix was writing an essay on what she learned.

“I’ve learned what you do echoes throughout your whole life,” she said. “If you make bad decisions, it will basically ruin your life.”

This week, Mix had the opportunity to attend the DARE Camp at Camp Child about 20 miles west of Helena. During camp, local students about to enter the sixth grade got the chance to canoe, play Hawaiian horseshoes and other confidence and team-building exercises.

“I think it’s actually a really great experience. You get to have fun and be a kid,” Mix said.

Along with the activities, the campers also learned about dangers of drug use and involvement with violent behavior.

Through the process, camp attendees aren’t the only ones learning lessons.

The DARE program, which is a 17-lesson curriculum used internationally, has been surrounded with controversy over its effectiveness.

“There’s no quantitative way to prove it works. That’s the argument,” said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton.

Dutton said he is pleased with the current curriculum but wants to ensure that the county’s teachers agree. Some teachers have voiced concern that the health aspects of the program should be taught by educators, not officers, he said.

Schools are currently reviewing curriculum and the DARE component will be assessed in 2011, Dutton said.

“We want a drug program, but is this one meeting our needs?” Dutton asked.

If law enforcement officials and county teachers agree DARE is not meeting the community’s expectations, the issue will need to brought back to the voters, who passed a mill levy in 2000 that funds the program.

Through the renewing levy, each year $200,000 is allotted specifically for DARE and its two full-time officer positions — one from the sheriff’s office and one from the Helena Police Department.

Dutton said that because it is a set program, DARE lessons cannot be altered in any way.

According to the sheriff, the program and camp, which is funded mostly by the DARE trust fund started in 1991, are beneficial to both campers and the officers. It allows the opportunity for officers to become role models, less of an oppressive figure and more of a peace officer, he said.

“All of a sudden, that officer is a person,” he said.

Mix agreed.

“I think they’re really cool. They’re there to talk to you about everything,” she said.

For the officers, it helps them work with children.

“It takes a different person. We have all great cops. Some are great cops but they don’t make great DARE leaders,” Dutton said.

Shane Hildenstab, a sheriff’s deputy and DARE officer, said the program is vital, especially for kids who may be prone to risky behaviors.

“It’s a building block for them,” he said.

Porter Struble, 11, said he has never been offered drugs, but now he knows how to say “no.”

“I think DARE is a smart thing to do because it prevents kids from being drug addicts,” said Struble, who attended this week’s camp.

Reporter Angela Brandt: 447-4078 or angela.brandt@helenair.com

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(23) Comments

  1. remybon
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    remybon - August 12, 2010 8:44 am
    from personally going through the program in elementary school, i think it does help deter kids aged 10-14 from trying drugs at that age. once they get older friends peer pressure and reality sets in, and they just have to make responsible choices on their own.
  2. Shepherd323
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    Shepherd323 - August 11, 2010 10:10 am
    I'm glad the kids who went had a good time. That said, in what I have seen through my own eyes going through the program I'm not a believer in it working. I can't count the number of times I heard "DARE made me so curious." I actually learned how to cook up and shoot heroin in DARE, that was in about third grade.

    There were many of us early on who just didn't buy into the notion that people do drugs "to fit in" or because of other social problems. It's not the most effective message when students from across all socioeconomic backgrounds do drugs. People usually do drugs because they like to do drugs (to get high) or because they're addicted.

    My main problem with the program stems from the use child informants. I don't believe that is okay ever unless it somehow saves the child's life. In my fifth grade DARE class the officer went contrary to what the program teaches about reporting drug use and said the use of child informants is not okay and that we should report it if it's an imminent threat to us but otherwise we shouldn't put ourselves at risk to be informants.

    Reading some of the other comments I think we've captured the issue with the war on drugs as a whole. Since when should any use of public resources be exempt from cost/benefit analysis? It doesn't matter how noble the intentions are if it doesn't work.

    I snuck into the movie "Requiem for a Dream" before I was old enough to see it and that single movie was far more effective for me than the DARE program ever was in choosing not to do drugs. Scare tactics can work with kids but they need to stay honest and lay out some of the real potential consequences. I watched that and saw all of the bad things that can happen when somebody does too many legal or illegal drugs. It wasn't just the standard line that you're going to do drugs and die, kids are smarter than that and most don't buy that line for one second.
  3. wm97ab
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    wm97ab - August 06, 2010 12:23 am
    Clara said: "Everything helps... if it helps keep ONE CHILD off drugs, it is worth the money, I glady open my wallet! As for our "silly Sheriff Dutton", why don't you try doing his job for a week and see how much better you do? Support our police officers and educators, don't beat them down!"

    There is no evidence that it saves even one. In fact, some evidence shows that it INCREASES drug use.

    In addition, there are other programs that are proven to work better. Those programs are not being used where DARE is being used. In that way, DARE causes real harm.

  4. wm97ab
    Report Abuse
    wm97ab - August 06, 2010 12:20 am
    Everhaste said: "Oh man, the comments on this one make me both laugh and cry (actually the term Hitler Youth Program made me do both in one sentence).First off, let me say I enjoyed the DARE program, but I had never intended to use drugs anyway, so did it work for me? I don't know. I will say however that I do believe there is a drug problem in Montana and America. Meth is the first thing to come to mind, but the fact that a 12 year old can get a Medical Marijuana card isn't far behind it. It's also been said recently that a problem with kids dropping out of school. Does this have anything to with drugs? Possibly, or stress or teen pregnancy, or bad parenting, or a million wother reasons, but drugs is in there somewhere. Now, before people start harping me about how good stoners can be good students, let me just remind you that anything that takes away ambition and distorts reality, not to mention psychologically addictive, is ultimately going to have a negative impact on school work and attendence (you'll notice the same could be said for video games, not that you'll get mine away from me!). So the question is, what do we do about it? From what I'm hearing in these comments it sounds like a lot of people are ready to scratch the whole program altogether (And schools in general in GPAC's case, and drug laws in Abodox's, no offense about to you or your opinions, that's what I'm hearing.) So let's say we get rid of the DARE program, is there enough propoganda right now to get kids to "just say no?" Maybe, but what ever happened to the idea of better safe than sorry?As one poster said, if it keeps one kid off drugs, I'd gladly pay for it. If it keeps one kid off drugs that would have ultimately lead to a life in prison or on Public Assistance (not that either of these depend on drugs alone), then the program has already started paying back to society. So yes, maybe it's just a waste of time, but even so, I personally believe it's time well wasted. Just a thought. "

    It isn't a good thing if there is another program that would save more.

    In fact, there is serious evidence that DARE actually causes more drug use, not less. This is probably because DARE simply has no credibility with high school kids.

    Historically speaking, the biggest single cause of drug epidemics among US teens is misguided anti-drug campaigns. The first example was the teen drinking epidemic during alcohol prohibition. See http://druglibrary.org/prohibitionresults.htm

    Other examples were the LSD, meth, and glue sniffing epidemics during the 1960s. You can read about those at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm

    If you still think that DARE, or the drug laws, are a good idea, read the book at the link above. It is the best overall review of the drug problem ever written. It has been used as a basic college textbook for decades. You will find surprises on every page.
  5. wm97ab
    Report Abuse
    wm97ab - August 06, 2010 12:13 am
    dietz1963 said: "wm97ab, the U.S. government huh? Thats your justification, because the U.S. government has decided?

    No, the justification is that there is absolutely no evidence anywhere that DARE works. The US Government just cut off the funds because even DARE couldn't come up with any, so it was rather publicly embarrassing to fund it. The part you missed is that the Government went wrong when they funded the thing in the first place. That was simply because of stupid politics, without even any consideration of whether it worked.

    So, in this case, they actually stopped wasting some of your money. You should be glad.

    As for the rest of your rant, I think you got confused about the topic. This thread isn't about whether you ought to like Obama. I really don't care whether you do or not.
  6. helenros
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    helenros - August 05, 2010 12:33 pm
    The only things my child had to say about DARE camp were stories of the annoying girl who kept hitting the boys, and about being prodded to swim in the cold lake at dawn and penalized for not doing so. Seemed like a waste of time to me.
  7. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - August 05, 2010 10:53 am
    wm97ab, the U.S. government huh? Thats your justification, because the U.S. government has decided? The same U.S. government that has driven us to the point just short of a depression? The same U.S. government that tells us to "tighten up our belts" while enjoying big paychecks and buy offs from lobbyists? The same U.S. government that spends more time pointing fingers at each other for problems verses fixing things? The same U.S. government the faults Arizona for attempting to fix an illegal immigrant problem while at the same time does nothing at all? The same U.S. government that decided we all have to have medical insurance whether we can afford it or not or face huge fines at tax time? The same U.S. government that toutes "no new taxes" but is raising taxes all the time? The same U.S. government that "supports the troops" but continually cuts military manning? The same U.S. government that won't get into private business but yet has government officials appointed over auto companies?


    wm97ab in case YOU haven't heard, our U.S. government has seriously lost our trust so if you want to have your head stuck in the sand or Obamatized go ahead. Fact of the matter is, the U.S. government is cutting all sorts of programs to save money..Defense included. Yea, the U.S. government has decided LMAO
  8. Everhaste
    Report Abuse
    Everhaste - August 05, 2010 10:42 am
    Oh man, the comments on this one make me both laugh and cry (actually the term Hitler Youth Program made me do both in one sentence).

    First off, let me say I enjoyed the DARE program, but I had never intended to use drugs anyway, so did it work for me? I don't know. I will say however that I do believe there is a drug problem in Montana and America. Meth is the first thing to come to mind, but the fact that a 12 year old can get a Medical Marijuana card isn't far behind it.

    It's also been said recently that a problem with kids dropping out of school. Does this have anything to with drugs? Possibly, or stress or teen pregnancy, or bad parenting, or a million wother reasons, but drugs is in there somewhere. Now, before people start harping me about how good stoners can be good students, let me just remind you that anything that takes away ambition and distorts reality, not to mention psychologically addictive, is ultimately going to have a negative impact on school work and attendence (you'll notice the same could be said for video games, not that you'll get mine away from me!).

    So the question is, what do we do about it?

    From what I'm hearing in these comments it sounds like a lot of people are ready to scratch the whole program altogether (And schools in general in GPAC's case, and drug laws in Abodox's, no offense about to you or your opinions, that's what I'm hearing.)

    So let's say we get rid of the DARE program, is there enough propoganda right now to get kids to "just say no?" Maybe, but what ever happened to the idea of better safe than sorry?

    As one poster said, if it keeps one kid off drugs, I'd gladly pay for it. If it keeps one kid off drugs that would have ultimately lead to a life in prison or on Public Assistance (not that either of these depend on drugs alone), then the program has already started paying back to society.

    So yes, maybe it's just a waste of time, but even so, I personally believe it's time well wasted.

    Just a thought.
  9. wm97ab
    Report Abuse
    wm97ab - August 05, 2010 9:39 am
    dietz1963 said: "This is the problem with the internet, we jump to conclusions based on what we "search" within google. And yes, google search is dependant on a combination of words "put in" to the search engine. So GivePeaceAChance, no doubt you got a lot of "hits" on google with "does DARE work" in negative context. But to have an "informed" opinion, you'd need to sift through the pages upon pages with litterly thousands of articles that show good and bad aspects of the DARE program. Even then, most of the "studies" are specific to either a particular town or state. Do you have any studies on DARE effectiveness in Montana? Even then the data could be faulty. That is the problem with any study and statistics. Does the study include the entire population of people or just a percentage? Example of "faulty" data. Lets say; for example, that there's a 15% increase in drug use this year as opposed to last year. Now, does that 15% increase correspond to a "set" group of people or did that group of people grow? Because populations do grow. Could be that there was a 25% increase in population so would that be a "factual" 15% increase in drug use? I doubt it, because the increase doesn't include the population increase. Could very well be per capita that usage decreased. "

    In case you had not heard, the Federal Government has banned any further funding for DARE because the evidence is quite clear that it doesn't work. There are even some studies that show it tends to increase drug use by kids.

    Why? Because the DARE program is built on faulty principles and the DARE instructors are woefully ignorant. Kids pick up on that ignorance sooner than they realize.

    So it isn't a question of searching the Internet and coming up with conflicting information. The US Government has already settled that question.

    Not that it would really be a contest, anyway. Even DARE can't come up with a credible list of studies that show it works.
  10. wm97ab
    Report Abuse
    wm97ab - August 05, 2010 9:36 am
    "There’s no quantitative way to prove it works. That’s the argument,” said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton"

    No, that's not the argument, Sheriff. The argument is that there ARE ways to measure whether these programs work, and DARE has failed every test. That is why the Federal Government now requires proof that these programs work, and it is also why DARE does not get Federal funding anymore. They simply couldn't come up with any evidence that it does work.

    It is a feel-good program that does nothing beneficial. You would do better to take your family on a picnic.
  11. wm97ab
    Report Abuse
    wm97ab - August 05, 2010 9:34 am
    elizabethm said: "WOW! What a great attitude you have "Give Peace A Chance"!My son attended the DARE camp when he was going into 6th grade and it made a HUGE impact on his life!Sadly, he has been approached several times (at school and in the community) about doing drugs and everytime, he has made the right choice to turn it down and told me about this situation.It is not up to the DARE officers to keep our children away from drugs. They are simply there to plant the seed, it is up to the parents to follow through!"


    Get back to us when he is a senior in high school. The research on DARE shows that by the time kids reach the senior year in HS, that 95 percent of them say that DARE has no credibility at all.

    Sorry, but somebody sold you a bill of goods. The evidence is quite clear that DARE has no beneficial long-term effects. In short, it is a waste of time and money.

    But don't let that stop you from making up new excuses for it that have nothing to do with Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
  12. wm97ab
    Report Abuse
    wm97ab - August 05, 2010 9:31 am
    elizabethm said: "Not only did he learn about drugs at DARE camp, he also met lots of friends that he still has today, gained self confidence and how to trust others!!"

    So what is the real purpose of DARE then? The name says "Drug Abuse Resistance Education." So it must be something to do with "drug abuse". Yet there is absolutely no evidence that it reduces drug abuse. None. It is like stamping your feet to keep the tigers away.

    It is just wonderful if your kids made friends, gained confidence, and all that stuff. If you want that stuff then go to a camp specifically for it. Don't put on some silly charade like DARE and then -- when challenged with the fact that it clearly doesn't work -- make up some other lame excuse for it.

    DARE supporters always do this. They have a huge emotional attachment to the holy crusade so they make up any excuse they can for DARE. This is like apple pie. Everybody loves it, but there is no proof that apple pie reduces drug use.
  13. GivePeaceAChance
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    GivePeaceAChance - August 04, 2010 7:27 pm
    dietz1963: I don't expect you to listen at all or research. I have been following the DARE program for over 15 years and all I have ever seen i studies that say it either does not work or is neutral at best. Some have shown DARE graduates to be less likely to use drugs one year later and MORE likely to use drugs two years later, however. I would be glad to read any study you can find that says it reduces drug use in a graduate child's lifetime.
  14. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - August 04, 2010 4:35 pm
    abodox33, what the heck does the health cirriculum discussing sex at age 5 have anything to do with the DARE program? Ya know, drugs are an industry and like all industries its success (or failure) depend on clientel. LOTS of customers in the drug business. If there were no customers, it would fail. Doesn't matter about laws, it matters about customer base. Heck, by our own doctors passing out medication like it was candy is just improving the illegal drug market. Me and a friend were just discussing this today, look at how many "physcological" problems our kids seem to have now a days, all of which are treated with drugs of somekind. We got kids on "legal" mind altering drugs at what, age 5?
  15. Clara
    Report Abuse
    Clara - August 04, 2010 3:33 pm
    Everything helps... if it helps keep ONE CHILD off drugs, it is worth the money, I glady open my wallet! As for our "silly Sheriff Dutton", why don't you try doing his job for a week and see how much better you do? Support our police officers and educators, don't beat them down!
  16. abodox33
    Report Abuse
    abodox33 - August 04, 2010 3:25 pm
    Alcohol accounts for 85,000 deaths in the U.S. each year but it is legal and sold at every convienience store in the U.S. Tobacco accounts for 435,000 year and can also bought at every convienience store in the U.S. Illicit Drug (all types combined) use accounts for 17,000 deaths in the U.S. per year and can be found with little effort on the streets throughout the U.S. It is pretty obvious to me that in our society that if someone chooses to make the decision to smoke, drink or do drugs they can do so without trying very hard. If somebody chooses to do harm to their body, they are going to do it one way or another. Get rid of meth, and they will find a new way to escape thier own reality. 1.5 million people are incarcerated in 2008 for drug offenses. But illicit drug use accounts for less deaths per year than real issues that are epidemically killing us like tobacco, alcohol, physical inactivity, and poor diet. Does anyone else see this as hypocritical? But we can't incarcerate anyone for making off money off things we enjoy doing, right? So, if you're not afraid of killing yourself by greasy food, cigarettes, beer and laziness, why are you so afraid if someone else wants to kill themselves with illicit drugs?
  17. abodox33
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    abodox33 - August 04, 2010 12:54 pm
    Give it up, the war on drugs was lost before it started! This war is a plauge to our nation that costs 75 billion per year, and has is responsible for 50 percent of the current prison population. What is a mandatory minimum sentence? Who knows anymore! Violent offenders are released because prisons can't hold them anymore because of minor drug offenders filling cells. We don't need more cops on the streets, we need reform on this war on drugs! Drug laws are discriminatory in nature and are an attempt by the government to get "certain types" of people out of the public's eye. DARE programs are a joke to all conservatives, democrats and all other political parties alike. I wonder if the same people who don't want the schools to teach their kids about sex want their kids heads filled with drug war propaganda?
  18. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - August 04, 2010 11:59 am
    This is the problem with the internet, we jump to conclusions based on what we "search" within google. And yes, google search is dependant on a combination of words "put in" to the search engine. So GivePeaceAChance, no doubt you got a lot of "hits" on google with "does DARE work" in negative context. But to have an "informed" opinion, you'd need to sift through the pages upon pages with litterly thousands of articles that show good and bad aspects of the DARE program. Even then, most of the "studies" are specific to either a particular town or state. Do you have any studies on DARE effectiveness in Montana? Even then the data could be faulty. That is the problem with any study and statistics. Does the study include the entire population of people or just a percentage? Example of "faulty" data. Lets say; for example, that there's a 15% increase in drug use this year as opposed to last year. Now, does that 15% increase correspond to a "set" group of people or did that group of people grow? Because populations do grow. Could be that there was a 25% increase in population so would that be a "factual" 15% increase in drug use? I doubt it, because the increase doesn't include the population increase. Could very well be per capita that usage decreased.
  19. elizabethm
    Report Abuse
    elizabethm - August 04, 2010 10:45 am
    Not only did he learn about drugs at DARE camp, he also met lots of friends that he still has today, gained self confidence and how to trust others!!
  20. elizabethm
    Report Abuse
    elizabethm - August 04, 2010 10:44 am
    WOW! What a great attitude you have "Give Peace A Chance"!

    My son attended the DARE camp when he was going into 6th grade and it made a HUGE impact on his life!

    Sadly, he has been approached several times (at school and in the community) about doing drugs and everytime, he has made the right choice to turn it down and told me about this situation.

    It is not up to the DARE officers to keep our children away from drugs. They are simply there to plant the seed, it is up to the parents to follow through!
  21. JMWB
    Report Abuse
    JMWB - August 04, 2010 10:41 am
    While I'm sure attending camp was big fun, otherwise the DARE program is a huge waste of money. How about it gets dropped from the budget?
  22. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - August 04, 2010 10:08 am
    Yep, more of our hard earned tax dollars down the toilet all to claim that they are fighting the drug war.

    DARE ""DOES NOT"" work - period!
  23. GivePeaceAChance
    Report Abuse
    GivePeaceAChance - August 04, 2010 5:15 am
    Google "Does the DARE program work?" and you will find nothing but articles that describe that it does not work. It has never worked yet billions are poured into it yearly, including the amount taken from taxpayers in Helena by the cops and schools.

    So why does the program continue? (Besides the fact we are sheople and just go along instead of doing something about it.) Because it is a pure propaganda program designed to train children into being submissive and compliant to authority. It is, in a sense, a Hitler Youth program.

    Our silly Sheriff Dutton even admits it has no proven value in reducing drug use. No program ever will. If fact, the mind numbing drone of propaganda and conditioning by society's institutions such as schools causes depression and a cloud of confusion to grow over a child's mind and some then turn to drugs to cope with the unnatural misery.

    But what is going on is probably too complicated for the press to cover (or even understand) so they just dutifully run a hooray for DARE article twice a year.

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