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.


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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.

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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...

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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.

Source:
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

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søndag den 19. juni 2016

Maggie at Redcliff Ascent wilderness program

This testimony was found on Fornits. All rights goes to the original author Maggie

Hi- My names Maggie and i went to RedCliff Ascent about 4 and a half years ago... and i wanted to say first of all no kid will be at RedCliff ascent less than like 60 days- yes it can be graduated in like 30 days but NOBODY does that- infact when i was there i was in a group with a girl who ended up being there 217 days!!!!

Also, i'd like to say that before i went to RedCliff i had only smoked weed for about the 3 months before i was sent away- and i made straight A's... nobody thought i should have been at this program- i was the 'goody goody'... which was true- but after RedCliff i went to boarding school in Utah for about 6 months after my RedCliff experience- and my comment to all this is after i came back from my programs i skipped school all the time and ended up dropping out... and because i learned so much about drugs in the programs from the other kids i came back and i just quit smoking crack and doing cocaine about 2 months ago... i could almost say i dont think i would have EVER done those drugs if i hadnt been taught about them from kids at RedCliff and my boarding school Academy at Cedar Mountain... by the way my drug habbits and skipping school started less than a couple months after i was back and i'm just now becoming sober

oh and when i was at RedCliff- from what i recall if u tried to run from the program of course u were going to get your pants and shoes taken away... i saw a report where the RedCliff staff acted like that was a bad decision made on the councelers at the time... i dont think so- that's what they were supposed to do

i hated every second of the program and afterward not only did i feel like i didnt learn anything at all but i felt betrayed by my parents more than anything and to this day i dont think i will forgive them to sending my this program especially because i WAS a goody goody straight A student before i went who liked to smoke weed on the weekends- and i turned out as a high school dropout who smokes crack...

so if u think sending ur kid to this program will solve all ur problems- think again!


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søndag den 15. maj 2016

A testimony about a stay in the Redcliff Ascent wilderness program

This testimony was found in some post on the Fornits message board.

Ive also been through Redcliff, graduated in december '03 was there 90 days. They were filming some brits or whatever and i remember that one kid from brooklyn that was in our group (aah shit it wasnt bullfrogs it was lions something like) left and joined the filmed group. It did help me considerably, i was a whinely little bitch and needed a good slap of reality. It helped me with depression but say 4 months afterwards i feel into a more anti-social 'conduct disorder' ruitine, and 6 months after i was arrested and am still on probation for my crimes.

I respect RCA more than juvies/psych hospitals/residentials blah blah and any other institution ive been to since they didnt just try to shove fucking pills down my throat and attempt to diagnose me with ODD or this and that. It was an emotional experience to say the least.

I was taken from Horsham Clinic (behavioral health hospital in PA) and escorted by a pig and my mother to the airport and flew into vegas. From there i meet the intake people, a chick and a man both huge and tall, mouthed off to them a bit and was driven to Utah. I got to base round 1:30 Am and then preceded with intake. After i was stripped and given those 'battle tested' fatigues, i was blindfolded and was off to the wilderness. 3 hours latter i arived at my camp Bullfrogs and became acutely aware how damn heavy those packs are and that i was seriously in the middle of nowhere--contrary to what i was told and assumed, that it was some haughty taughty cliche "lets go camping and learn about nature!" bullshit.

After pissing and moaning about hiking in my first letter i wrote home, i got depressed. Even to my dismay i couldnt make fire. I continued this little ruitine of mine for nearly two months till i got my first fire, rushed through all my phases, got named "White Falcon" and graduated. We had to take a shower, but at grad camp they just built it and it had no heat--i remember it was colder than just using a pot and soap, but i really didnt care. Cold meant shit to me then, after 'gut-bomb', 3 peak, fires, my hair freezing (always wash your body first then your hair kiddies), blisters etc. i was just happy i was going home. They make you run like a mile down to your parents, and that first month home is really the most thankful. I remember i had trouble trying to explain my experience to kids in my school and they all backed away from me cause i was 'bad'. So eventually i gave in started to chill with punk/skin crews more and eventually got myself into some run-ins with the law.

I meet some interesting people that id seriously like to meet again Mike "Red Badger" or that hobo chick Ericka.

Abuse was there if you cared to notice (staff dismissing the group to another area to piss off on some kid, degrading remarks, instigating etc) but most of the time 'consequences' involved carrying rocks if you swear, having a looooong day of hiking, camp drills/pack drills, no peanut butter, cheese or meat rations (replaced by the nastiest greenish brown shit ever) and the 'cart'. My group got the cart just "to see if we can handle it". All in all though it did just depend on the staff and thier mood.

Getting sick is just horrible. They dont give you conventional medicine but make you drink sage tea which id imagine tastes exactly like shit laced with pesticide i remember i could hardly get it down and vomited but they insisted to drink up because of how sick i was (and for two weekafter i was discharged i still was taking medicine for it). It was the worse ive ever been i was freezing cold couldnt eat coughing up green phlegm, couldnt walk 100 yards without huffing and puffing and all i would do was stare off drooling by the campfire haha i spilt my honey and when someone finally noticed it was all gone and i didnt even care which to an RCA kid is fucking extreme. When we hiked (only 6 miles or so) i barely made it and got about a dozen or so faint spells where honestly i had no clue what the hell was going on. Fortunatly i graduated that weekend right befor the 15 miler we were going to pull off (dont know how i wouldve fared with being sick and all)

RCA doesnt change shit let alone profoundly, it just grows you some hair on your chest and leaves your suburbanite mommies and daddies 30 grand poorer (and for a poor family like mine, well lets just say your going to be eating lots of canned patatoes and ramen)

RCA dont work. Nuff said.

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