Lou Zamperini of Los Angeles, a lay evangelist who takes delinquent boys to a summer camp on California's Mammoth Mountain, doesn't have any trouble with his charges—though their crimes may range from petty theft to outright murder. All he does is take the boys to a 30-foot cliff, give an exhibition of rappelling—the art of plummeting down a mountainside on a rope—and then ask them to do the same. "The toughest guys sit there and shake," says the lean, tanned Zamperini."The youngest boys see the tough guys aren't worth idolizing, and they turn their attention to us."
At Mammoth Mountain the boys get instruction in outdoor pursuits ranging from mountaineering to the plain facts of survival. Olympian Zamperini (he ran the 5,000 meters in 1936) reports the boys take to this challenge with all the enthusiasm they used to reserve for a rumble. "Man," one kid told his buddy, "this is a bigger kick than robbing a store."