torsdag den 5. oktober 2017

Phoenix Outdoor wilderness program testimony

This testimony was found on All rights go to the original author

I was sent here about 10 years ago and i absolutely fucking HATED it!!!

I dont understand how these places are still open and how parents still send there children there. My best friend died in a wilderness program just like this in CO and his parents couldnt sue cause of the waivers these places have you sign incase your child dies and it was 1000% the programs fault that he ended up dead.

At Phoenix they did not care about the safety of the adolescence in this program. I ended up getting hypothermia multiple times the first time i was sent there due to lack of staff awareness and saw several other instances where peers in my group were injured with differed levels of severity including broken legs and other body parts. honestly most of the staff were just awful and i dont understand for the life of me how these places are still running.



søndag den 23. juli 2017

Book: The dead inside

The book is about the stay of Cyndy Etler in the so-called drug rehab Straight Inc. Today known as a rehab program which destroyed more lives than it helped, it was considered one of the best rehab programs for minors when it was created.

The book provides a deep insight in the cult environment which founded the basis of a program where it never was about healing the teenagers but just proving whather ever lose assertion parents might had about possible drug use of their children.

Buy it here:
Source Book or ask for it at your local bookstore using the ISBN-number: 9781492635734

fredag den 23. juni 2017

Reddit Acsent testimony

This testimony was found on Reddit. All rights go to the author known as candytripn

I went to one of these, Redcliff Ascent, when I was 17 (back in 2000). Parents seperated, bounced back in forth in legal battles, physical abuse on one side, verbal on the other. Typical teenage fun.

First, the program out there was a joke. It was nothing but forced punishment with some half assed attempts at counseling inbtween. Hindsight makes it easier to see, but even then I could see most of the kids/teens out there didn't deserve to be there, and the other maybe 20% needed to be somewhere where they would get real help. Hiking for hours a day in the desert, leaving off of rice and lentils twice a day, with a piece of fruit or an onion every other week, is not therapy.

The therapy sessions they did have, were little more than walking through the motions, something any 14 year old could do after a day of binge watching Dr. Phil. After 6 months of talking circles around these volunteer community college counselors, they had to just let me go. No graduation, no you passed.. just sorry, we can't help you, but tell your parents thanks for the money.

Coming home? I don't think there was one person there that wasn't worse off, with some major animosity. Stories of the "troubled teen" coming home all prim and proper are greatly over exaggerated. When I returned, I left. I joined the Army and after returning moved to the other side of the country. Took years to ever even begin talking to one parent, and still won't talk to the other.

It wasn't all terrible out there. I mean, except for hiking all day, being dirty constantly, getting little to no food at all, sleeping in the rain, dirt and even at times snow, I guess that wasn't too bad. I think what was worse, was that there wasn't even a semblance of caring or therapy. "Oh look at this brochure! Cabins, a lake, a group of smiling teens in shiny new red shirts around a fire with the campy counselor playing some trail song on his acoustic! What fun!"

No.. it was none of that. It was strip you naked, take everything away from you, and give you some dull used clothes. Blindfold you and drive you out into the desert, and drop you off with a group of stinking, dirty and downtrodden teens that would've look more in place in an Auschwitz documentary, a wilderness camp. From here you learn the cycle of wake up, eat rice, walk, walk, walk and walk some more until it's dark, eat rice, write a poem or talk about your feelings ("I'm feeling pretty pissed off" was the most common) then sleep and repeat. At least in jail you would've gotten 3 meals a day, a tv, a mattress and a shower.

What did I learn? Nothing, just animosity. Sure, I made some dumb mistakes as a kid. I smoked pot, I skipped a few classes and snuck out at night a few times. Was that deserving of being taken from school, denied graduation, losing my friends and being abandoned in the desert for 6 months? I'd say no... all it accomplished was a rift in the family that was never fixed. Though I suppose that in and of itself was a valuable lesson. You can't count on anyone but yourself.


søndag den 16. oktober 2016

Joel at Ascent Wilderness program

This testimony about a now defunct program was found as a comment to another blog. All rights goes to the original author known as Joel

I was sent to Ascent at age 17 in 2000 and it was the worst 6 weeks of my life. Personal belongings including clothes were confiscated during the initial strip search. They give you two sets of clothes, a sleeping bag, and some boots that you are to carry in a large bag everywhere you go. We slept in crowded teepees using our bag as pillows and every morning they would blow a whistle signaling its time to get up. We had 5 minutes to get dressed (we were forced to strip down to underwear to sleep in) roll up your sleeping bag and belongings and be outside in line at attention. If one person didn’t make it, everyone had to unpack everything in the teepee, strip back down to your underwear and get in your sleeping bag, and start over. This would sometimes go on until lunch time.

Daily activities included hauling logs in the forest, chopping and stacking wood, boot camp style physical training sessions, getting yelled at, and “group therapy” they called raps. I’ve been to therapy and this was NOT therapy. 2 weeks of the program was spent “on course” hiking an camping in the mountains with a small group and a couple counselors. I had a medical issue come up (likely from the stress) that kept me from participating in course (Doctor ordered). Their solution… return me to base camp and put me in a private tent secluded a few hundred yards back in the woods where I was NOT to emerge. Meals were brought to me and I literally didn’t leave the tent (except to use the bathroom) until my group was done with the 2 week hike.

Letters written home were screened and thrown in the trash if the staff didn’t like them. If you wanted a letter to be sent, you would have to leave out the part about the abusive practices of the staff and pretend like everything was peachy.

When you finish the program, they recommend you to attend the company’s boarding school if they don’t see you to be fit to return home. I always hustled, stayed focused, said yes sir / yes ma’am, and did what I was told to the best of my ability. Surprise surprise, they recommended I go to the CEDU (company that runs the place) boarding school that helps fund this god awful teen prison. I was one of the few lucky ones and my parents decided to bring me home. I am so glad to hear that CEDU was shut down in 2005. No kid should be subjected to that kind of place.


søndag den 18. september 2016

Reflection on a stay at Aspen Achievement Academy

Aspen Achievement Academy closed in 2008. Former enrollees at the program reflected on the closure. Here is a testimony

I am incredibly happy that they shut this place down...

I remember flying into Salt Lake City, and driving to Provo to spend the night at some people's house where they fed us Belgian Waffles and all sorts of stuff before starving me for the following 3 days... A banana, and a can of peaches???

I know my parents had no idea about what this place was all about... I was 14 and I can tell you that I will never, ever forget about this place.... Sleeping under the stars, and waking up with my hair frozen from the rain... Hiking 15 miles in a day, pushing a Wagon with all our gear, and people trying to run away throughout....

The best memories were when my parents came out and I ran barefoot down the gravel road to see them... Once my parents experienced what we had gone through it was eye opening for them... The best thing in Bicknell was the Milkshake place named Jillians that we all talked about everyday until we graduated and were finally able to get some real food....

Wow, 20 years later I feel like I was out there yesterday...


søndag den 21. august 2016

Wilderness therapy and the impact on parent / child relationship

This testimony was found on Reddit and tell how the relationship between parents and child change after a stay in a wilderness program.

When I was seventeen I my parents had me kidnapped and sent off to a rehabilitation center in Utah until I turned 18. (All for smoking pot but that is besides the point).

It was at that point I truly learned that life is not fair and it never will be. Shit happens for no reason and sometimes there is nothing you can do and sometimes things don't get better. The only thing you can do is deal with it and try to continue with your life.

I think it is an important lesson for people to learn. So many people seem concerned with "one day, things will be better and change". Well guess what, a lot of things don't change and some things just flat out suck so get used to it welcome to adult hood!

I mean, I wouldn't say it ruined my life. It sure didn't help in any ways that I think my parents intended... And to this day I definitely am confused and a little resentful and distrustful of my parents. But I can say I think they believed they were doing the right thing, or at least did. Also, this happened about 10 years ago and in retrospect I can at least appreciate it in the way that why else would I ever hang out in the high deserts of Utah. I can say there was some cool natural beauty there.

The biggest irony is I think my parents did it because they thought I was going to drop out of high school. The fact was I was on track to graduate early, but when I went to Utah they had a different curriculum and I ended up being there / in high school longer than I would have been had I been at home.

Thread where the testimony was found (Reddit - AskReddit)

søndag den 17. juli 2016

Cold Catherine Freer wilderness experience

This testimony was found on the reddit message board. All rights goes the original author

In the mid-90s (my mid-teens), I was sent to the Catherine Freer wilderness program in Oregon in January. It was a grueling three week winter trek with bad equipment out in the mountains. They improperly fitted my snowshoes and the first night, I remember being strip searched then put in really old musty wool winter hiking gear. We were shuttled into trucks. Not like vans, but like a pickup truck with the plastic covering over the back and dropped off in the woods after dark. I remember trying to run away that first night and threatening it. They told me to go ahead and walk away, so I did and then one of the guys tackled me.

So, I spent 3 weeks out in the snow. It was pretty grueling. Our packs were probably about 50 lbs and we rotated dragging the supply sleds for a nightly fire pit. If you got that rotation, it was a rough day carrying at least 100lbs of gear. I remember one day that we had to make it over some ridge with a ridiculous slope to it. The guides told us that morning that we probably would only make a mile and half that day. It was a rough day. Imagine walking up an incline in snowshoes and heavy gear for 8 hours only to realize you made it about a mile.

I also remember having to wipe my ass with snow. It was zero impact type program and it was winter. It wasn't that big of deal because honestly, the quantity of food we had wasn't a lot, it was just super calorie dense. Another memory I have was walking into someone else's mid (tent without a bottom) and finding three people huffing the white gas we used with our cooking stove. This was the night before we finished the hike. I didn't partake. Not my thing.

It was grueling and I came out looking pretty skinny and smelled terrible. Five months later my parents put me in the Elan School for two years. I think the trauma of that has caused me to block out a lot of the feelings I had about Catherine Freer because three weeks is just a blip compared to two years. Elan closed in 2010. Catherine Freer closed in 2012 after three deaths. I read one was in Nevada. Honestly, I didn't know they operated there. I thought they were only in Oregon.

After leaving, I never spoke to anyone from that program ever again, guide or marchers. I once called their office trying to get a copy of my records, but they said they didn't keep them that far back.

3 teenagers died in this wilderness program before the owners took the profit and closed the program