onsdag den 24. juli 2019

Testimony about an unnamed program

I went to shorter wilderness program in the middle of the winter in Oregon. When I got there, they strip searched me and took my stuff. I was given clothes and put in the back of a pick up truck with those removal plastic tops. After that I was driven up into the mountains at dusk. By the time we stopped, it was dark out. I was given snowshoes and was told to strap on a sled to drag some of our supplies (this duty rotated). We were hiking to some place in the dark in the Oregon mountains in January. I stopped and told them this was bullshit. They said I was free to walk away assuming I would be scared to. I unhooked the sled and started to walk away. They tackled me and made me put the sled back on and keep marching.

I remember being really cold all the time. Our tents didn't have bottoms. We had to dig a hole to put our boots in and sleep on top of them at night to prevent them from freezing stiff. It was 21 or 22 days out there. The guides were nice enough, but reflecting on it as an adult, their qualifications were more related to being able to hike than to counsel teenagers. I remember the stars being beautiful at night. I remember the hikes were grueling and I looked emaciated when I finished. We weren't supposed to go into each other's mids (tents without bottoms). The last night, I heard a bunch of other kids in one of the mids. When I went in, they were all huffing gas from the tanks we used for our camping stoves.

Despite doing well in that program and being considered a leader, they recommended I get sent somewhere else. I went on to military school followed by a two year stint at the now closed Elan School. The wilderness program wasn't even my first program. I went for a 3 month stint at Turn-About Ranch when I was 14. They had a wilderness program in the same town called Northstar. It was shut down the year prior after a kid was thought to be complaining to get out of hiking. He had a perforated ulcer and was bleeding to death. The famous writer Jon Krakauer wrote an article for Outside Magazine about it called "Loving them to Death."

I was 15 for the wilderness program. It has since been closed to due to participant deaths. I know one of the deaths was considered an accident. A large branch from a tree felling on someone while they were sleeping. At their program in Nevada, a girl died of heatstroke. I think there was one more.

As far as therapeutic boarding schools go, I went to the notorious Elan School. Look it up. You will find all kinds of horrific shit about it. During my time there, I was in a house with roughly 120 kids (we came in and left 1 at a time, so this is just a guess). The house population was between 45-60 at any given time. I've lost count of how many are dead now. I'd guess at least 25%, but possibly more. Suicide, drug overdoses, a couple murders. Some are dead, but I don't know what happened. A lot disappeared and none of us know what happened. They could fine. Recently, I found one guy everyone thought was dead and he was doing awesome. However, I also found another people had been looking for and he'd been dead for 17 years.

I bring this up because people all these troubled teen placements are trying to make a profit. It's commonly a one size fits all program. Some kids end up in these places for disturbing crimes. Other kids got smoking a joint or skipping school and their parents sent them there. Nor does success in these programs predict much. One kid who had done extremely well was murdered by his friend while smoking meth out in the woods. His friend went crazy, slit his throat, and left him to bleed out. Another kid who was just in there before me, murdered his mom with a sledgehammer. Kids who had never even done drugs would come out a few years later and end up heroin addicts.

That doesn't mean others didn't do well after leaving. One of my peers is a high powered lawyer in big law firm. Another is a fairly famous healthcare political activist who is quoted in the Washington Post and interviewed on television. Many move on to be normal people. But, most of us are somewhat or extremely haunted by it.

The truth is, it's all a crap shoot. No program has any guarantees. Also, while parents might send their kids to these places because they love them and want to get help, it can feel like you are being thrown away like a piece of garbage. For me personally, with each place I went, my relationship with my parents got worse. The anger just built up at them. So, I would do great at a program. Then I would come back home and it would get bad again. Most programs unfortunately do not look at the larger context a kid's problems exist in. They are the problem. The program is being paid to make them the focus of the problem. However, in my extensive experience in these places, sure, the kids were usually fucked up, but so was most of the family. The kid was just what was called in psychology lingo the "identified patient". Kids don't usually just become messed up in a vacuum. But, in a for profit endeavor, the customer is always right. Even in cases where the parents are supposed to be involved in the therapy, it's only to a point. After all, they are the ones cutting the check. So, it creates some pretty perverse incentives.

Sorry for the wall of text. I hope some insight can be drawn from my words, but everyone's situation is different.

Source:
Question for teens that have gone to a wilderness experience for 8 weeks or more: (Reddit meassage board)

søndag den 17. marts 2019

Lexi A at Trails Carolina

This testimony was found on Google. Today Trails Carolina is mostly known in the public due to a tragic deaths of one of their students in 2014. The wilderness area is very much dense forrest making it difficult to determine where you are.

Trails was quite a negative experience.

If you think you are sending your child for therapy, be aware that this is more of a scared straight kind of program. Yes, I did get far better and my future is far brighter than it would have been had I not gone to Trails, but I left feeling overall traumatized. There were major abuses of power on the staffs' part, with one staff even refusing to allow us to replace a broken water filter because it would have been "a waste of money" . I subsequently got very sick from the unclean water and had to take medication for my constant throwing up. The staff didn't write a medical report until the girls in my group vocally protested and stood up for me after my 15th time throwing up. (I was not the only one sick from dirty water in that group). They should have never let it get to this point.

Also, as a previous review stated, be aware when they recommend for your children to go to therapeutic boarding school because it is most often completely unnecessary and prolonging the distance from home will only make it worse. The program also overworks kids while giving them little to eat. They don't tell you future plans (i.e. how much time a hike will take). One girl purposefully broke her toe out of desperation for the 8 hour hikes to stop (something a certain staff member knew was purposeful but ignored). Certain staff members show major and unprofessional favoritism. The therapy seemed to be a joke (I had Tai as a therapist) and sessions with her consisted of reading cards to see our spirit animals and feeling extremely judged.

In the end I am happy I went to Trails because it helped me pull myself together with time for thought, fear of coming back, and a growing thankfulness for home. As with nearly all other girls that I met from Trails and contacted afterwards, my depression got a lot better but my anxiety became crippling. Hopefully, Trails staff see this to help understand these problems because I do believe Trails has the opportunity to be a good program but many issues and the general deception in their marketing really disappoint and leave lasting damage/trauma on children.

I am furious with a lot of what staff allowed to occur because of their abuse of power.

Sources:

søndag den 17. februar 2019

"Del Rawr xD" at Trails Carolina

This testimony was found on Google. Today Trails Carolina is mostly known in the public due to a tragic deaths of one of their students in 2014. The wilderness area is very much dense forrest making it difficult to determine where you are.

Trails Carolina was by far the most traumatizing thing I have ever been through.

I didn’t eat my first two weeks other than a few bowls of rice. I lost a significant amount of weight my first two weeks. So much my backpack did not fit me anymore. I tried to tell the staff they did not listen the hip strap did not fit so all the weight was on my shoulders. 3 weeks in I noticed large black bruises on my shoulders welts. Many of us also had these bruises, one boy who was there over the winter had gotten frostbite and lost movement in 3 toes. He had not even received medical attention. I ended up spending 91 days at trails not completing the program. I came home and my relationship with my parents became seemingly worse.

Two months after trials I was diagnosed with PTSD. Trails has ruined my life I have not been able to think straight ever since they flashbacks have caused horrible anxiety. I ended up meeting with 3 group member 1 year later one of them Connor also had been diagnosed with PTSD. It turns out the whole time we where there we were all of us abused both physically and mentally abused. Not to forget the time I was assaulted by another group member the staff did nothing. Please don’t send your kid here.

Sources:

søndag den 20. januar 2019

Trails Carolina Experience terrible

This testimony was found on Reddit.

Trails traumatized me. The staff force you to do everything and even when your hiking up a huge mountain with huge heavy pack on they yell at you for stopping and force you to keep moving.

The first week your there the first letter you get is a letter from your parents saying what you did and why your there. The letters you parents try to send basically gets edited by them to make it different so you cant hear what your parents actually wanted to say. The letters are not even sent through the mail they take a picture of you letter and send it through email. The staff don't care if your crying and you only see your therapist once a week and the therapist barely even listens to you and tells your parents the wrong things about you. Mine told my parents I was self harming for attention.

They make you hike in pouring rain and snow no matter what. The food is disgusting and have the same stuff every week and you have clean the pot and scrub and you have very little time to do it. We only shower once or twice a month and on the website it said warm showers and comfy beds which is a lie. Everything is dirty and you sleep in tiny tents with 4 or 5 people which is meant for less and if it is raining you get soaked in the tents. The clothes are very dirty and very low quality and never get washed. People run away all the time and try to self harm with shoe laces and stuff. PEOPLE HAVE DIED HERE!! its so messed up nobody cares about you there. You learn stupid extremely hard wilderness skills and have top learn all of them to leave.

The people try to force your parents to send you to a boarding school and lie that your child is doing bad. I was lucky and got to go home but now I have a very poor relationship with my family and only have a few friends. Trails made it worse. I cry every time i just think about Trails it was the most hardest traumatizing thing that has ever happened to me. I feel so bad for everybody who has to go through this like i did. It made me so depressed and wanted to die while I was there because of how bad it was. I felt more hopeless than ever I thought I would never be going home. trails is torture. you have to carry your food around and your heavy sleeping bad and group gear which the water is from a creek that's not cleaned. The staff don't care and dont help or carry any of it. I was always crying on the hikes because it was hurting me and they yelled at me for being slow. the "school" there is not school there is no activities at trails you just work on your wilderness skills. Many things happen there thats against the law and lie. DONT COME HERE and btw my group was fox trot.

Source:
Trails Carolina Experience terrible (Reddit)

søndag den 13. januar 2019

Fred at Second Nature Wilderness program

This testimony was found on Yelp. All rights go the original author Fred

They took off my pictures like many other people here I got PTSD from going there along with acute intermittent porphyria. A 1:100 disease for life. I throw up blood regularly I go to the bathroom and see blood in the toilet im now on 10 pills just for anxiety and sleep and 15mg a day of oxy.

This place gave me nightmares and health problems for the rest of my life. I moved out never spoke to my parents again. I had pictures that were taken down part of porphyria is you get sun blisters my face back and chest have scars from the sun sores that will never be healed or covered up. I experience pain everyday I've had seizures as a result of the PTSD my last seizure dislocated my shoulder and tore my rotatir cuff.

I came out worse than I went in. They refused to bring me to the hospital and I was told if I didn't stop throwing up i couldn't go home. I was so sick there from the salmonella I was throwing up daily one night I was so dehydrated I passed out half way to my tent and passed myself. Sending your kid here could kill them my doctors told me im lucky to be alive and what I have (porphyria) could be passed onto my kids. It mutated my gene. Screw them if you send your kid they will hate you. Im not the only one who came out worse than when they went in. If I got sick I was supposed to carry extra weight while hiking to metaphorically reflect the weight the group had to carry from dragging me by my backpack while I was unconscious on hikes. Luckily the staff although they were told not to bring me to the hospital they atleast didn't force me to carry extra weight after they found me unconscious when I passed out and passed myself. They knew I want faking but the therapist believed I was.

I was also mocked because I read the bible cause I knew I was dying. I debated hanging myself while there because I knew I was dying I wanted to go out on my own terms. I had my will written inside my boots telling my parents to get an @autopsy done. I also told my friends in my group to tell my parents what REALLY happened to me and why I died. I HOPE THIS PLACE BURNS TO THE GROUND. Therapist lu vaughn was my therapist. The staff I had knew something was wrong but they were helpless because of her orders. I been to jail and jail was better than that place. Imagine sending ur child somewhere worse than jail they will never be the same. I don't trust anyone and cut off my entire family because of this place. Look at the other reviews more ppl left with PTSD I wouldn't wish PTSD on my worst enemy

Sources:

søndag den 16. december 2018

A mothers testimony about SUWS

This testimony by a mother was found on Yelp. All rights go to the original author Maria

Outrageous...I wouldn't send my worse enemy there. They said they worked with kids with anxiety disorders. Absolutely, not so much!!! My daughter was me never in trouble not even once. I'm not saying this because my daughter walks on water, she was a typical kid.

She said she didn't sleep till the last night when they had to stay by themselves. Sleep deprivation, one of her anxiety issues. She had to use raw safe found in the hills for toilet paper. She said there was a boy there who had bipolar disorder and they had no idea how to work with him. She said he struggled greatly and it wasn't behavioral. I can't believe how much money we spent for nothing. She came home just as anxious as she was when she left. She has gone to school, now works and works through her anxieties the best she can. I almost forgot. She said one of the girls caught her hair on fire. The therapists said the kids had to help and didn't offer their own. This is only one of the horror stories.

My daughter has not complained once and said she was/is not angry. She's said many times we had to do what we had to do. She's a hell of a lot more forgiving than I. I'm disgusted with their false advertising. I hope whomever is looking for help takes heed and does an in depth search.


Sources:

søndag den 18. november 2018

Brittany at Trails Carolina

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

Oh let me start from the top with this place. In all honesty, I cannot begin to fathom where I should begin. Let me start with my experience going thru the program. To protect my privacy, I will not name specifics in regards to timing of my dates. I was one of the lucky ones in terms of having knowledge beforehand that I was going. When your parent or legal guardian enrolls you, the admissions counselor tells them to not inform your child of when or where they are going. They have these little deceptive services they use and the rest of the students called them "goons" They came to your house in the middle of the night and literally forced you to pack your things and to get in the car with them to go to Trails Carolina. I was lucky enough not to go thru this, but everyone else in my squad did. I could tell that Trails did not like that I knew ahead of time because they called my parents and told them that I had contacted them for more information. I have documentation supporting that in case it is disputed for any reason in a response.

What was supposed to be a therapeutic experience has left me with nothing but sheer PTSD for the past years following my graduation from the program. Nightmares ensued and still ensue now even years after. The minute I walked into my first day and I was dropped off, I was sent to a room where they made me strip out of my clothes while someone watched, and change into some kind of uniform. A green t shirt and a red hoodie and these quick dry pants and some hiking shoes. I was there for a little over two months during the winter season. In the North Carolina mountains it can get below 0 degrees with the wind chill at night.

This place is anything but therapeutic. Let me tell you the menu of food we had to eat. By the way, they told us when we could eat. Yes. There were times when we were not allowed to eat. Mondays breakfast was oats which we made using a pot filled with water from the creek which was boiled. Mondays lunch? Oh the same with every lunch. One tortilla with honey. Thats it. Everyday for almost 80 days. Dinner on Monday was rice and beans. They portioned the meals into a green cup that everyone had. You had to eat at least half a cup and a maximum of 2.5 cups which you told the person making it before. We carried the food around everywhere with us. Tuesdays dinner was called mush. What is mush? It's literally everything that you didnt use from the week put into one pot and served .This included sometimes noodles, peanut butter, garlic, and whatever else wasnt used because Wednesday was resupply and we were not allowed to keep any food. Each week each person got a bag of food that was called a "p-bag" inside was a ziploc bag of raisins, mixed nuts, 1 jar of peanut butter, 6 oranges, and apricots. If we didnt eat it all we couldnt keep it. Heres the funny thing my first day, I came in on a Monday, so the next day was the last day, I got my p-bag and I had a full jar of peanut butter and all the rest of the kids were mad. So after I turned in my food bag for the night, the staff opened my jar of peanut butter and scooped out half of it to make it "fair"

So Trails has 5 different stages of the program. The first is called Trailhead, then Waypoint, then Legend, then Barron which is the red book then navigator then guide. I never made it to navigator thank god. Honestly, and I'm not going to lie, I learned nothing during those 70 days, I learned after I left that my parents almost had to hire a lawyer to get me home because the therapist assigned to me, Todd Green would not let me leave. He said that I wasn't ready. I was there for a minor reason compared the rest were there for drug trafficking offenses, and he had the audacity to suggest to my parents that I not return home but instead be sent across the country to a therapeutic boarding school. He suggested that I was doing horribly to my parents. My parents were being told that I was doing horribly. He set me up while I was there to try and get me to relapse into my old behaviors so that he could tell my parents that I needed to be sent away. I will repeat this again.

I have PTSD still from this. I tried repressing it for a long time but I face it now still. I will never forget collecting sticks from the woods in the freezing cold rain and my hands almost frostbitten and if I stopped I would have gotten reported in the blue books that they kept a log in. Once again, I will repeat that I cheated my way thru the program because I didnt think I would ever get out. We had to bust a coal which means create a spark that turned into a fire using a bowdrill. This was really stupid because the whole program was centered around busting a coal or you couldnt go home. I signed several activities as complete myself so I could go home. This place is a mess do not send your child here. I promise you it will be a nightmare. Please feel free to contact me for further info

Sources:
  • (The original testimony on Yelp)