The Penikese island
experiment / George Cadwalader. - White River Junction (Vermont) :
Chelsea Green publishing, 1988. - XII-193 p. : map. ;
NOTE DE L'ÉDITEUR
: Cadwalader, a Marine captain severely wounded in Viet Nam,
recuperates but is unable to return to combat. Strongly influenced by
his experience in the Marines, he recruits a small band of unlikely
« teachers » — well-educated social
drop-outs — and launches an experiment in the rehabilitation
of hard-core juvenile delinquents. The site he selects is Penikese, a
remote island off the Massachusetts coast. Once a leper colony,
Penikese is slowly transformed by the students and staff into a
self-sufficient school community.
The Outward-Bound atmosphere
the author and his staff create on the primitive island involves
construction, boat-building, farming, and nature study. If the wood
isn't chopped, there's no heat ; if the vegetables aren't
harvested, there's no food. Cadwalader and his cohorts treat the kids
consistently, and try to hold them accountable for their actions.
on all sides — by the weather, the violent unpredictability
of the kids, jittery surrounding communities, and a rudderless criminal
justice system — the author undergoes some painful changes
as he confronts the stark irrationality and rock-hard recalcitrance of
his juvenile criminal charges, some of whom he takes into his own home.
The admonition of an old Marine sergeant comes back to haunt him :
« That son-of-a-bitch was born bad, and ain't you or anyone
else gonna change him ».
But Cadwalader and his
colleagues persist, and despite setbacks, the school survives. The
dialogue is raw and gritty. The narrative moves from the hilarious to
the somber and back again as the author chronicles the lives of the
boys who come from Penikese. Castaways is a true story, a tale of idealism tempered but not surrendered — an intensely human portrait.
GEORGE CADWALADER : After being a sanctuary to birds
for three decades, Penikese Island found a new calling in 1973.
During the summer of 1973, George Cadwalader and some of his
friends established a residential school for troubled youth.
It is for boys between the ages of 13 and 18. Only those who
show potential and initiative for turning their lives around
are given the option to come to Penikese. A boy is then sometimes
given the choice to come to Penikese or serve time in jail.
When I spoke to one of the teens
on a recent expedition to the island he said, « It's
a lot tougher than expected. It's nothing like I expected. »
The reason it is tougher on these boys than they expected is
because they must suddenly learn to support themselves a lot
more. They must grow their own vegetables, chop their own wood,
cook, look after animals, all the while studying daily.
The Penikese Island School exists
in a isolated location to foster a tight-knit and supportive
environment where kids may begin to learn more about their abilities
and fulfill their potential for being self-supporting and independent
members of society. There are usually about 8 to 10 boys on the
island at a time, as there currently are now. Accompanying them
are two men who help them in their projects, teach them academics
daily, as well as teach them in life.
There is no electricity, and
the only heat they have is from small wood stoves in the few
shed-like-buildings and cabins on the island. There own building
is a cabin with a loft where they sleep. They entertain themselves
with stories, conversation, a Ping-Pong table, and a forlorn
basketball hoop outside. But for the mostpart, these kids told
me they don't have much time for anything but working. Their
only time to relax is at night, when they all must hang around
the cabin together.
colonies pénitentiaires et bagnes pour enfants
- « The Penikese island experiment », White River Junction (Vermont) :
Chelsea Green publishing, 2006
- Alexis Danan, « L'épée du scandale », Paris : Robert Laffont, 1961
- Jean-Claude Gritti, « Les enfants de l'île du Levant », Paris : JC Lattès, 1999
- Jacques Prévert, « Chasse à l'enfant » in Paroles, Paris : Gallimard (Folio), 2004
- Daniel Robb, « Crossing the water : eighteen months on an island working with troubled boys », New York : Simon & Schuster, 2001
- Louis Roubaud, « Les enfants de Caïn », Paris : Bernard Grasset, 1925
- René Santoni, « La colonie horticole de Saint-Antoine », Ajaccio : chez l'auteur, 2008
|mise-à-jour : 7 mars 2017