New Horizons Youth Ministries' first overseas academy, Caribe-Vista Youth Safari, was established in Haiti.
In 1974, they moved to the Dominican Republic. They changed their name to Caribe-Vista. (Five years later, after a 1979 Congressional Report alleging abuse, it would become Escuela Caribe...today it is known as Caribbean Mountain Academy).Various rumors were given for the program’s move, usually casting blame upon the students: some kid had burned down native huts in Haiti. A girl had run away and been forced into prostitution.
However, an article from 1974, tells the truth.
The program was cited by Michigan officials for being unlicensed and not offering proper care. They were particularly concerned with Blossom’s advocacy of corporal punishment resulting in excessive bruises and bleeding. He also was sending court-ordered students to Haiti who were supposed to be housed at Michigan’s Honey Creek Christian Homes.
The Haitian officials deported Blossom’s organization on drug charges and for not keeping their visas and other documents current. If the Duvalier regime expels you, you must be really corrupt.
Caribbean Youth Camp Attacked As Unfit by Paper
Detroit (AP) A Caribbean camp housing 18 Michigan youths is unlicensed and may not offer proper care, according to a Detroit newspaper. Half of the youths at the camp were sent there by state probate judges and five of those six judges have ordered their charges returned to the states pending an investigation of the Caribe Vista Youth Safari. The nine other Michigan youths were placed in the camp by their parents.
The sixth judge said he planned to make a decision today after reading a state Supreme Court memo which questioned whether the courts could legally make the placements and which said use of state funds for the care of youths at the facility “may be improper”.
The youths and their director Rev Gordon Blossom, a Baptist minister from Grand Rapids, were deported from Haiti to the Dominican Republic because of drug charges and because Haitian officials said they failed to keep visas and other documents current, the Detroit Free Press said.
They have since been lodged at two sites on the island, and will be moving to a third camp soon, the paper said.
Judges ordered the youths placed in the camp, believing the 53-year old minister was running a legitimate operation based on what he called “culture shock.”
Blossom believes the disorientation resulting from living in a different country with a strange language, monetary system, life-style and social-political problems will make it easier for the campers to overcome influences that get them into trouble in the first place, the paper said.
Blossom runs a licensed Michigan camp called Honey Creek Christian Homes in Lowell, Michigan. He told judges that their wards would be sent to Honey Creek, then to the Caribbean.
However, the paper said it learned the youths were flown directly to Haiti. Part of the stir that has prompted some judges to order their wards back to Michigan stems from Blossom’s questionable maneuvering and advocacy of corporal punishment. They said they were worried by Blossom’s failure to keep them up to date on what was happening with his charges.
“Kids need a swat on the butt when they mouth off,” Blossom was quoted as saying. However, the Free Press said it learned excessive bruises and bleeding sometimes resulted. Physical punishment has been discontinued, however, and group therapy substituted, the paper said.*
Although some of the judges have deplored Blossom’s operation, he argued in his defense: “If authorities….. are unaware of the sexual abuse, social stigma, destructive influences, and psychological assaults experienced by children in the reform schools, detention centers and mental hospitals to which our kids otherwise would have been sent, we have just cause for their replacement.
“If, while knowing these things, they continue to stifle programs calculated to avoid these traumas, they justly indict themselves in the minds of all knowledgeable persons.”
from the The Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, August 19, 1974, p.6.
*Physical punishment was resumed once NHYM moved to the Dominican Republic. It was documented in a 1979 Congressional Hearing.