Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE – December 14, 2021

Located on 199, four plus years ago, Del Norte County closed the six decade-old boys Juvenile probation camp 32 miles of Crescent City.

The good work performed by kids and Staff is unquestionable. 602 Wards (Juvenile offenders) aged 13-18 were Court-ordered to Bar O by scores of California counties scattered about the north State. Why did my colleagues and I on the Board of Supervisors shutter the highly successful Probation-run Program of Education, Discipline and Accountability?

Simple answer:


Sadly, the State changed the funding criteria and instead of investing in sending a kid to the pristine Del Norte County wilderness, Sacramento opted to utilize lots of ankle bracelets and pull the plug on programs which actually worked. My career was spent as a Juvenile Court School teacher in Los Angeles County. LA County which operated on 18 different Probation Camps. Words fall short in relating my enriching career as a Certificated Staff.

When we moved north years ago, I often substituted at the Bar O Ranch school. What a supreme pleasure!

It saddens me to tell you Bar O remains shuttered and the Supervisors have no plans to utilize Bar O in any way.

I post this update because the opportunity to utilize this site should not be squandered. In speaking with Supervisor Starkey, I learned the County has no plans for the dormant Bar O.

Here are a few suggestions the County should place this item on an upcoming Agenda for Discussion and possible action:

* Future site for a DNUSD school/ training site

* Culinary school

* Park

* RV site

* Future housing

Indeed, ingress and egress roads would require improvement and zoning would need to change.

But no one is publicly talking about anything at Bar O except putting up larger NO TRESPASSING signage

What say you folks?

5 thoughts on “Bar O Boys Ranch. What’s Going On?”
  1. What a complete let down it is to read this. Such a huge loss to so many that this place has helped out.
    Bar-O was an alternative to the usual “treatment” for youth offenders that taught many that they were somebody, they had options, that they were indeed capable of working and thinking for themselves, THAT THEY ACTUALLY MATTERED!
    I was placed there by the courts in about 1982-1983 and absolutely loved they place. To this day I think of the staff and I remember most all of their names quite easily. They were all great people that actually cared for others. They were more family than a lot of these kids had ever seen.
    While there, I worked just as much as they’d let me in the woods, cutting trails, maintaining this or that, cutting wood and I thrived.
    For a bit of my life after leaving there I had made some poor choices and every time I would always return to working in the woods, working in mills, becoming a darned good millwright and then a machinist.
    At this point in my life I have a great job on an 85,000 acre ranch in Montana. I own my own home and shop, own a decent old road grader for side work and have owned 3 portable bandmills, the last and biggest mill I built myself. The next mill that I build will have hydraulics, I’m on the verge of getting old.
    I credit a lot of my successes to the staff of Bar-O and especially to Mr. Rusty Vining, who was the main work “counselor” there and for darned sure is one of my idols.

    If there is anyone to contact to stand behind getting Bar-O going again, if there is any groups or organizations needing letters or appearances bragging on this place, please feel free to contact me.

  2. Bar O yes not every student can or wants to attend collage, Bar O was a great place for a young person to learn a trade, hobby, read a great books, maybe interest in UFOs, who cares as long as the young person has the interest and enjoys what ever the students choose and learn to make a life for them selfs, for get the homeless camp reopen Bar O for our students help them get a life.

  3. I was sent to this camp when I was a teenager and it really did help me that was in 2009 it’s a shame to know they closed it.

  4. I say that would be a good spot for a homeless camp. Let’s haul them away from our beaches, forests, and towns. If they want to stay in Del Norte County, they do not have a choice. Use their public assistance money to pay for it. Go to the camp, or get bused to Humboldt County.

    1. Yes you did say back to San Francisco right I’m sure Nancy will greet them with open arms.

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