Thursday, May 25, 2023 | 2 a.m.
During more than three decades at the Spring Mountain Youth Camp, Ed Cheltenham won 13 state championships in track and field and another two titles in basketball.
But his most notable contributions came as a probation officer at the facility. The Mount Charleston-based Spring Mountain Youth Camp is an alternative to prison for teenage boys requiring rehabilitation after committing delinquent acts.
A Clark Country juvenile court judge sends troubled youth to the camp, where probation officers like Cheltenham work 24-hour shifts, giving them a chance to develop a bond with the residents. Over the years, many of Cheltenham’s athletes were being coached for the first time in their lives by, if not having their first positive male influence.
“He is one of the best men I have ever met in my life,” said Mike Whelihan, who worked nearly two decades with Cheltenham at Spring Mountain. “He is probably the best probation officer I have met in my life, just a solid human being. I wish I could clone him.”
Cheltenham spent a total of 35 years working at the camp full-time before his retirement in 2015. He later returned in a part-time capacity to continue coaching.
One-hundred boys live at the camp at a time, all of whom have committed serious crimes such as car theft, home invasion or gang-related activities. They stay at the camp for six months.
Cheltenham said sports are a vital part of rehabilitation, because they bring a sense of normalcy, discipline, and teamwork—and a glimpse at life off the mountain. Spring Mountain competes in the Class 1A in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association in a handful of sports.
“I love working with kids and making a difference in their lives,” Cheltenham said. “They need someone to help them, and it became my calling.”
The 74-year-old Cheltenham also coached track for two seasons at Bishop Gorman and now holds the same role at Indian Springs High School.
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.