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Thayer Learning Center

The Thayer Learning Center or TLC is a military based, Christian boarding school boot camp for teenagers in Kidder, Missouri. The program says that it "...changes, reunites, and restores hope to families across the nation."

The International Survivors Action Committee (ISAC) website criticizes the camp.


Program Information

The TLC offers a year-long program, and summer programs of four, eight, and twelve weeks in the summer for teenagers from the ages of thirteen to seventeen. A typical student, as described on Thayer Learning Center's website, is generally thought to have been one of the following:

  • Acting defiant, disrespectful and disobedient to authority figures at home and/or in school
  • Doing poorly, refusing to attend, or failing in school
  • Experimenting with drugs, alcohol, sex, and other risky behaviors
  • Having some minor legal troubles, shoplifting, taking the family car etc.
  • Struggling with or showing signs of ADD/ADHD or ODD


Of the two phases of the TLC, only the second permits a student to participate in schooling. This is because TLC wants children to view education as a privilege. Thayer Learning Center employs several certified teachers and the children also have access to tutors. The self-directed study is done through Penn Foster [1], a distance-learning program.


As quoted from the TLC's website:

It is mastery of these simple things in life that brings true success in life:
  • Spiritual Identity
  • Physical Fitness
  • Good Nutrition
  • Time Management
  • Financial Management
  • Goal Setting
  • Service to others

Roberto Reyes

On November 3rd, 2004 an event took place which has sparked investigations and allegations of abuse concerning TLC's treatment of cadets. Roberto Reyes, of Santa Rosa, California, had been at Thayer Learning Center for less than a week when he died after being bitten by a spider, according to his autopsy. The Caldwell County coroner said at the time that the autopsy concluded that the death was an accident and said Reyes could have been bitten before he arrived at the camp.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, studied the Reyes death in late 2007 for a report released to the House of Representatives. The GAO report said Reyes had more than 30 cuts and bruises on his body when he died. The staff had interpreted Reyes’ symptoms – including falling down frequently, complaining of muscle soreness, vomiting and involuntarily urinating and defecating on himself – as rebellion.

After complaining of illness, Reyes was forced to the ground and held there on several occasions, according to the report. On one occasion, he had a 20-pound sandbag tied around his neck when he was too sick to exercise.

Reyes was placed in the “sick bay” the morning of the day he died, where a staff member checked on him mid-afternoon and found he had no pulse. The staff then called 911 and Reyes was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A state investigation found that Reyes might have survived if he had earlier medical attention and that records at the camp may have been falsified. No criminal charges were ever filed, though Reyes’ parents filed a wrongful death suit that was settled out of court for about $1 million, according to the GAO.

In late October 2007, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. announced the GAO had referred the case to the FBI, stating, "In light of the seriousness of this case, in which neglect, if not outright abuse, likely contributed to the death of a child, I urge the FBI to treat this referral with urgency.",4670,BootCampInvestigation,00.html


  • Thayer Learning Center Website
  • Interview with Willa
  • Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse
  • International Survivor's Action Committee Thayer Learning Center

Further reading

  • FBI Launches “Preliminary Inquiry” Into Boot Camp
  • The Trouble with Troubled Teen Programs
  • Missouri Department of Social Services Investigative Report
  • Close Thayer Learning Center
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Thayer_Learning_Center". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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