ESOAL forming committee to evaluate program

GARDEN VALLEY, TX (KLTV) - By Morgan Chesky - bio | email | Twitter
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

GARDEN VALLEY, TX (KLTV) - A Christian camp in East Texas is saying it needs to take a closer look at its controversial program.

KLTV's look into Teen Mania's ESOAL retreat has prompted administrators to postpone the event until further examination.

It is not the first time Teen Mania has addressed problems with ESOAL, a boot camp-like program. Their response to student safety issues is very similar to an ESOAL evaluation that happened in January.

An in-house committee reviewed a growing number of ESOAL complaints, but deemed the event successful after minor changes. Some of those changes included limiting participants to three hill rolls and allowing them to stop if they got sick.

The modifications came eight years after the video seen KLTV obtained from a 2002 ESOAL where students were fed unappetizing food before various exercises. Now, Teen Mania has acknowledged past mistakes and says they are willing to move forward.

"We've brought in consultants, psychologists, and how do we make sure the thing is accomplishing what we want it to accomplish? We don't want to be in a situation where we're having outcomes that aren't tied directly to what we want to have happen," said Jon Hasz, the Director of Global Expeditions. "It's changed quite a bit over the 12 years from the genesis to where it is now and we really believe it is a solid event that's accomplishing what we want it to."

KLTV's stories have prompted Teen Mania to name an independent committee of experts. The team will have full access to ESOAL's planning and conduct a review of safety policies. Teen Mania says they will not conduct another ESOAL retreat until the committee recommendations are satisfied. The committee will be named by November 1st and KLTV plans to speak with them on upcoming changes.

Click here to read Teen Mania's full response.

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