During a nightmare divorce, my former brother and sister-in-law, signed off on having their basically well behaved, good student 13 and 15 year old daughters 'escorted' to Redcliff Ascent, a Wilderness Boot Camp in Utah. They had their virginity tested, were given 35 pound backpacks and set to walk in the Utah desert with a bunch of other kids, shoes taken away at night so they couldn't run away, peeing or pooping behind a bush and yelling out a number during the process, so they wouldn't run away, only unsweetened oatmeal for a week with a spoon of sugar as a treat on Sunday. Left alone in the desert to start a fire etc by themselves as part of achieving points.
It was because my fundie brother couldn't handle his daughters wearing short dresses, smoking cigarettes, being overweight and talking back to him on occasion (after he abandoned them for years with their drug addicted mother).
There were kids there who were anorexic, bulimic, overweight, depressed, bi-polar, mixed with some who were serious drug addicts, drug dealers, young sociopaths/rapists, kids dealing with a destructive personality disorders.
72 days they walked in the desert, my 13 year old niece losing 70 pounds.
On that 72nd day, a man turned up in the desert and told the kids that if they wanted a lovely hot shower, 3 meals a day, all they had to do was to agree to go to Hyde School. So the kids agreed.
Hyde was basically a mental institution and the kids were self-committing, giving permission to be committed without their knowing this. The law is that a person has to self commit to go to one of these mental institution 'schools', unless proven to be a danger to the community, when the committing can be done by the police. In the boot camp, if the kid did not say yes, they were left in the boot camp in the desert.
The fees were $3000 for Friendly Hands Escort Service to take them in handcuffs to the plane, $30, 000 per child, per month. Hyde School cost $25, 000 a year.
I visited my niece, both were put in two separate Hyde Schools, one in Maine and one in Connecticut. There were all kinds of abuses going on in the schools, teachers sleeping with students, teachers smoking pot with the students. Mostly it was the parents who were the mess and the kids trying to survive dysfunctional parents, as my nieces were.
Anyway, it basically ruined both their lives in terrible ways. I don't think they have recovered from that experience yet.
Redcliff Ascent was also the center of the first version of the reality show Brat Camp. In year 1999 there was a riot.
- Excellent documentary about judges being paid to sentence kids to incarceration, entitled Kids for Cash, now on Netflix. The original testimony on Reddit
- Factsheet about the wilderness program (Fornits Wiki)
- Truth or Consequences (Outside Magazine Online - about the riot)