Rawhide Boys Ranch to acquire CHAPS Academy

NEW LONDON, Wis. (WBAY) -- In early January, CHAPS Academy announced it would close its doors at the end of the month; but the Shiocton equine therapy program may not be closed as long as expected.

“The mission is very similar between Rawhide and CHAPS. It's really all about helping troubled youth and their families get on the right path, and providing services for that,” says Alan Loux, President and CEO of Rawhide Boys Ranch.

When CHAPS announced its closure, Rawhide began work to acquire the non-profit.

Both facilities use equine therapy, an alternative to traditional therapy sessions, for at-risk youth.

“They're not stuck in a room, and they have an activity to look forward to, and they have a reason to come down,” says Gretchen Liethen, Equine Services Supervisor, Rawhide Boys Ranch. “It's huge in [the stables and arena]. So if they scream, holler, yell, cry ... Nothing. It just is here.”

CHAPS officials cited high operation costs for the closure, saying the gap between health care reimbursement and donor support totals nearly $20,000 per month.

Rawhide officials believe they’ll be able to foot the bill.

“We think that a combined CHAPS, Rawhide organization will be a lot more streamlined,” Loux says. “Take out a lot of overhead, and take advantages of some synergizes, and we believe it to be a financially sustainable model.”

While both stables treat boys and girls, Rawhide will continue to focus mainly on boys and CHAPS will take care of the girls.

“I wish there would have been something when I was growing up. All the boys had somewhere to go, girls did not. And we had troubles too,” Liethen says. “So to know that CHAPS is available is awesome, because sometimes girls get swept under the carpet.”

CHAPS Academy will close its doors on Wednesday, January 31. Loux hopes the stables will re-open in the following weeks or months.