lørdag den 18. december 2021

Gavin Cruz speaks about his time detained at BlueFire Wilderness Therapy

This testimony was located on Google. All rights go to the original author.

The staff were nice but the over all help they had with targeting certain kids including myself was horrible. The staff would mess up the re rash and we would have way less food and we were stuck barely eating. Also your pictures of blue fire on your website is completely false we had horrible quality clothes I was in there when it was five degrees and below and the gloves and layers of clothes were not meant for that environment they were horrible it’s basically cruel punishment for people trying to get help. What’s the point of putting someone with mental issues or drug or alcohol addiction in weather where they can’t feel there hand or body while having kids cook horrible food with horrible ingredients giving during re rash.

I was there for eleven weeks I enjoyed my therapist a lot but I didn’t make any progress at all he was a great guy but didn’t help me at all. I went to a treatment center after and they couldn’t help me either I struggle with depression and anxiety i am the exact same person as before. There is no point of sending a struggling kid to a wilderness therapy especially one that does not give you the tools to be safe. If we didn’t bust a cold we were stuck sitting around the camp site freezing then going into a green wall which y’all said that we were going in a yurt every night on y’all’s website when we went into one only at three camp sites. I remember waking up in a fetal position and I used one of my nalgens filled with my urine and put it on my stomach to keep me warm. And they would only let you sleep in a long sleeve skin tight shirt and pants that matched the shirt with no jacket or anything so you would basically be sleeping in your underwear they also took your shoes so you would have to wake up and pee outside with no shoes and in a shirt and pants in the snow. This was punishment my parents still think it was a fun experience when in reality it was a living hell.

I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart don’t send your kid here they lie to you. Just get a therapist at home and if needed send him or her to a mental hospital. Also don’t send your kid to a treatment center it’s the same process as wilderness but in a building it’s not helpful there at all. Don’t ever consider this.

The original testimony on Google

lørdag den 13. november 2021

Carter's experiences at Bluefire Wilderness program

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

Hi i am a past student of blue fire and I am writing this for struggling parents who feel like they have no option but so send their kid here DONT DO IT this place can care less if you come out better and even less that you actually go home.

At my time at blue fire they used cruel punishments on me and the kids in my group we were constantly deprived of food when I first got there it was 8 kids when I left it was 16 kids and we were still getting the same amount of food it was used against us as punishment and what made it worse is the staff knew what they were doing because me and the kids would constantly say you can’t use food as punishment and even are therapist tried to help but once the therapist left and it was just the unsupervised staff with the kids they were free to do as they please and punish how they pleased so we were genuinely scared that whatever we said about the staff out of fear that it would be used against us or that our “privilege” of talking to our family be taken away much of the program is hiking and I remember an occasion when we actually ended up getting lost in the desert and they forced us to hike 25 miles all the kids had blistered feet and we were out of food but of course the staff still had food and they were eating beef jerky in front of us when they knew damn well we were deprived of meat there.

I could write a whole other review talking about the food they fed us horrible beans and rice almost every meal also forgot to mention to have any contact with your parents you have to write them a letter saying how good of a program you are at and how much of an opportunity it is for you to be there and if you don’t your not allowed to talk to your parents these people who run this place are sick in the head and see basic necessities as privileges

The original testimony

lørdag den 14. august 2021

A testimony concerning the BlueFire Wilderness Therapy program

This testimony was located on Reddit. All rights go to the original author known as reds2032

How I was abused at BlueFire Wilderness Therapy

Fuck ok I really really don’t want to write this shit down but it needs to be known. I, and many others, were abused at BlueFire. I was there from fall of 2020 to February 2021. Im extremely nervous to put any more information out in case of being recognized.

An incomplete list (because I can possibly remember them all):

I broke a bone and was left untreated for 4 days before being taken to a hospital. They tried to convince me I was making it up for attention, but once my skin started turning black and purple I realized I wasn’t making anything up. We were forced SO MANY (2 dozen plus times) times to sit in the snow without fire or shelter for countless hours in silence. This was a “consequence” for “misbehaving”. I was not allowed contact with any family for the first six weeks as punishment because of the panic attacks and hysteria I had my first week. We were made to force-feed eachother TO LITERALLY DEMONSTRATE WHAT ABUSE WAS LIKE. We had to backpack one day with our legs tied together to represent how being depressed keeps you away from being free. We were told several times to shut up because we were the ones in crazy camp and we didn’t deserve to be listened to. I was told my dog died then told she didn’t to test how I reacted to grief even if it wasn’t real. That one just makes me mad. We weren’t allowed to talk to eachother at all unless we were being watched and recorded by staff. We had to walk barefoot in several feet of snow to use the “bathroom” (any bush) Our shoes/socks were taken away at night. This was so it would make it harder to run away. We had to do layouts in our under garments in below freezing temperatures while it was raining.

I can’t make myself write anymore. My legs are literally shaking right now.

The original testimony on Reddit

mandag den 19. juli 2021

Redcliff Ascent experiene

The testimony was found on Qoura where the question was whether it helped.

As someone who spent 5 months in a wilderness therapy program (in the Utah desert, in a program that is supposed to last 28 days or less), I can tell you the answer is both yes and no. In short, it depends on the person. Most people I encountered were there involuntarily (including myself). You could consider the experience character changing, to say the least (my experience has stuck with me 10 years and one child later).

After having been highjacked from their beds in the middle of the night, flown out against their will across the country, blindfolded for hours on end during a never-ending-car-ride-from-hell until reaching their final destination, the first impression is understandably unfavorable. However, coming out of the program, I can say with confidant certainty that ”complete rehabilitation” was 0%, while “partial rehabilitation” was (at best) 50/50.

I know of more than one program “graduate” that went home only to kill themselves (one camp-mate of mine with her own fathers gun), and several more that ended up in very bad places. This was due to a variety of factors. What parents don’t realize upon sending their “troubled teens” out there, is that they are handing their kids over to people who are largely unsupervised in an extremely harsh and unforgiving place. A place where basic, common sense laws don’t seem to apply to children or ADULTS. Many of these programs are male/female, so there are both male and female staff to supervise. Just because they are “trained staff” does not mean they have ANY business around children. Several girls (from 13–16 years old) were raped or molested during my time there, and the adults were never held accountable or punished.

During my time there I had witnessed multiple staff members breaking down and sobbing hysterically (completely unable to function) either because our water sources ran dry or were frozen solid (and there was barely any snow to melt, so water was rationed by the sip, or at best by the ounce), the “food drop” trucks (that came once every 2 weeks) were several days delayed (for different reasons) so we would go hungry, they would get LOST in the desert which would require 15+ mile pitch black night-hikes (on top of the 15+ already hiked during the day) on steep mountainsides (where kids were rolling down the mountain every 10 minutes while carrying 80+ pound packs, only to be saved from certain death by smacking into one of the many trees that littered the edge just before the cliff drop-off)….

If that is not enough, there were smaller (but considerable) issues with kids getting frostbite, no helicopter for emergencies (it would take 4–5 hours minimum on a good day for a truck to come pick you up, only to drive another 4–5 hours back to get to the hospital-no ambulance service out there), so if you broke a bone or severed a limb you were SOL. Plus pneumonia from the physical toll of hiking all day with an 80 pound pack, 20 pound gas can of water (held by hand in my case, after someone maliciously ripped open my water bladder for no legitimate reason) and a 20 pound tarp on top. Then after all this you have to set up camp (the “tent” consisting of a thin tarp and some rocks) and dig a fire pit, latrine, and washing hole using a dull stick and your hands. THEN make a fire using literally sticks and stones (god help you if it rained), and if you couldn’t build a fire you had to eat raw dehydrated food out of dirty pouches. And if it did rain, you could enjoy an all night bath of flood water in your sleeping bag and wake up soaking wet and freezing cold (in winter) and watch the water dripping from your hair turn into icicles in 3 seconds flat (I seriously CANNOT make this up).

In a wilderness program like this, you can say goodbye to hygiene (no showers and not enough water and soap to sponge-bathe), you can say goodbye to pooping in private (enjoy talking to your whole camp as they debate what kind dump your taking, a mere 5 ft. away), say goodbye to toilet paper (enjoy finding a leaf big enough to wipe your ass if you poop), say goodbye to feminine hygiene products (although the manual labor was so hardcore my period stopped for 4 1/2 of the 5 months I was there) and say goodbye to personal health and safety.

You can, however, say hello to creatures you have never seen crawling up your legs from the inside of your zipped-and-cinched sleeping bag. Dark red scorpions half the size of your forearm, large exotic spiders, monster ants over an inch long, huge fire red ticks …these are your best-case-scenario sleeping buddies. I don’t even know the names of the worst, only that they are in the stay-away-or-you-will-literally-die category, and look fresh out of your worst nightmare (another cause for the “Responsible-Adult-Staff psychotic breakdown”, after we had to abandon several camps infested with these demons from hell-seriously, what kind of pale/fleshy poisonous monstrosity should be able allowed to exist that bites, stings, AND pinches with 3 inch claws???)

Believe it or not I could keep going, but I do have enough sense to stop here. Long story short, just take your family and go camping for the weekend.

Whether you are a parent debating sending your child (don’t do it, they literally just want your money and will milk it until you are broke with a second mortgage taken out of your house, while sending your child back to you even more damaged than before), or a teen considering your options (see above), you would be better off taking a safe weekly stroll in the park and hiring a therapist.

I apologize for the excessive rant-kudos to anyone that makes it through the whole thing, and I hope whomever reads this finds a safer alternative to self-betterment than this type of program.

-Went anonymous for this out of concern for personal safety and legal repurcussions, as well as privacy- since this is my first Quora post (I am still learning how this works). I have not made my troubled past in “wilderness therapy” or “therapeutic boarding schools” (another story) known to certain friends/acquaintances/parents of my child’s schoolmates, so I am employing an overabundance of caution even though I would prefer complete transparency. Godspeed.

*EDIT: To answer question below, this was 10 or so years ago at a place called RedCliff Ascent. Many people transferred to RedCliff from similar programs, and many of their story’s were similar (but often much worse) than this. I believe the program is still running because they have somewhat improved safety over the years, but other “sister” programs (run by the same people) have been shut down after reports of abuse, neglect and “suspicious deaths”.

mandag den 21. september 2020

A wilderness program experience

This testimony was found Reddit. All rights go to the original author known as tobyhztheg

Not to long ago I was sent to one of the many wilderness programs out in Utah. While there was some good therapy and help I received there there’s lots of silenced negatives that come with it and the industry as a whole.

I was there for about 14 weeks. If your wondering I was gooned or “transported” as the like to say. First of I’ll start with the fact that them calling this morally questionable service a “transport service” is pretty dehumanizing on top of the whole experience. It’s like we are simply a object being brought somewhere when we are human beings as well. My experience with being gooned was nothing out of the ordinary or too interesting. Just the normal 2 bouncer sized men coming in my room at 3am and taking me away. Although I’ve heard other rough experiences with this practice from my peers while I was at the program. One told me about how when he walked towards his mom too try to tell her goodbye he was tackled to the ground and handcuffed. During this restraint he had his lat re-Injured from a injury he was recovering from and in PT for months for. He was given next to no medical attention while he was at the program. He hiked 4 days a week with a 40+ pound backpack and was told to stretch and sometimes was given ibuprofen. Another story I heard was from my student mentor at the program. He explained how in the car ride his goons recalled and laughed about a time they beat a kid up, kicked his head, and dragged his bloody self into the car. This shows there are some legitimately sick people in this job and it makes me question the morals of these companies even more. Another student told me about when he was spending a night in a hotel with his goons. His goons asked him to spit out his gum, he told them no and they beat the living shit out of him, tackling him, punching him, and even repeatedly stomping on his head. There’s many more stories I have but I’ll keep it to that.

My experience and wilderness therapy was often agonizing, depressing and mad me feel like a inferior prisoner sometimes. I had to either count or call my name every time I shat in a hole or pissed in the woods. I couldn’t have a single conversation without a thing called “ears”. This is a non negotiable rule that a staff must be present to listen in on a conversation between 2 students or more at all times. They would completely shut the conversation down if it wasn’t deemed “therapeutic”. If you ever argued it would get you nothing. This felt like one of the many invasions of any privacy. Having monitored and censored discussions for more than 3 months got old really quick. Whenever we would speak up about any of the ridiculous rules and vented about or hard times at the program to each other we were constantly reminded by staff that it is our fault for being here and these are the consequences of our actions. This essentially made the rules untouchable and not up for debate. Staff also reminded us often about our “privileged” lives specifically our white privilege which basically made us feel like we had no right to have any sort of pity of ourselves or our peers. All of our lives at the program were constantly rendered back to it being our faults. Me and almost everyone came to the conclusion early on that we essentially had to robots to the therapists, staff and the program. Do what your told, bite your tounge and don’t complain. I found the most success in basically being a complete yes man the whole time. The outspoken ones never succeeded there. I also want to talk a bit about abuse of power. There was this one day where a kid was refusing to wear his face mask (covid reasons ofc) because he saw staff the other night being very close to each other and not wearing them. After refusing for about a minute to staff came over to him and tackled him to the ground. One of them shoved his face in the dirt while he yanked the kids arm and shoulder back while he was screaming in pain. For almost all of it they were being physical while he wasn’t even resisting. What really suprised me about this situation was that earlier on in my stay when a kid litterally physically attacked me all staff did was grab his arm and walk him away so clearly the amount of force in the mask situation was beyond excessive.

Often at the program we did much more physical labor and hiking than actually therapy while staff would bullshit us and say “hiking is therapy”. Litterally we had 1 therapy session a week for about 30 minutes when the therapists came once a week.

I also want to describe some of the lack of medical attention I received there. Throughout my stay I consistently had violent diarrhea. Looking back it’s not surprising because of the often rotten vegetables, and cleaning all of our cups out with dirt. (This next part could be disturbing) There was one week in which it was the worst. The whole week I was having such violent diarrhea that it god to a point where I was shitting so violently that I cut open the inside of my anus. All the shitty “med team” would do is give me a bad diarrhea medicine and sometimes tums when it was bad enough. It was litterally hell. A staff accused me of faking my diarrhea to get out of chores, hiking etc.

Sorry for the long post I might make a Pt 2 later. If you actually read through this thank you for hearing a little bit about my experience

My experience and my peers experience at Wilderness Therapy (Reddit)

søndag den 14. juni 2020

Second Nature (Evoke) testimony

This testimony was found on Reddit.

Hey, did anyone else have a really negative experience at Second Nature Entrada in Utah? Now called evoke I think. I went there in 2013 and still think about it all the time, but the lists of the bad places never include it. Some of the stuff that happened to me there:
  • put us on 48 hour isolation in solitary confinement on the whim of the staff members. Not even as punishment.
  • i was forced to drink a gallon of water in 5 minutes on two separate occasions as punishment for forgetting to get my water bottles logged (they can’t be held liable). They told me if I finished it the group would get quesadillas, so everyone cheered me on. Both times I drank until I threw up water, and both times I was forced to scoop up my own vomit even though it was just water, dig a hole for it, and was told I was dramatizing
  • staff calling the girls names, encouraging us to call each other names, encouraging verbal abuse -group meetings that existed purely to humiliate and shame.
  • girls being forced to hike and participate while withdrawing from serious drugs such as meth, crack and heroin
  • i was put on meds that made me drowsy, accused me of faking when I kept passing out under the weight of my backpack as a result, only stopped the meds when my parents noted they couldn’t read my handwriting bc I was so weak.
  • inadequate protection against the desert cold, girls would cry themselves to sleep.
  • was made to write a list of things I would never tell my parents, rhwn forced to read it. When I turned around they were there for their visit which I hadn’t been told abour ahead of time.
  • I never got the hang of making a fire, and they thought I just wasn’t trying, so they put me on isolation for a week where I couldn’t talk to anyone and the only thing I was allowed to do was to try making a fire all day. For a week.
  • sadistic games played by the counselers just to teach us lessons, promising prizes it was impossible to win.
  • clearly Morman therapist who told me I needed to find a higher power to get better, even though he knew I was Jewish and that that is a higher power.
  • kept me an extra month against my parents will because they wanted to take me home instead of transfer me to a RTC in Utah.
  • was not allowed to draw read or write.

I could go on. Did anyone else have similar experiences there??? I always see it listed as one of the “good ones” and I’m just confused


søndag den 19. april 2020

A mothers testimony about her sons stay at the True Norh Wilderness program in Vermont

The True North wilderness program located near Waitsfield is mostly known in the public for a case where a detainee in the program ran away in 2019 for some time. Here is a testimony from a mother about what she saw when she placed her son in the program.

Our son graduated from TN 15 months ago. Before and during his stay, we disclosed that he had body dysmorphia, extreme anxiety, insomnia and OCD and that he had stopped functioning. During his 94 days at TN, he lost over 33 pounds. No matter how you look at it, that means he simply did not have enough calories to sustain his weight under the extreme conditions. No one at TN ever expressed concern to us about his diet or his weight. In fact, we were constantly reassured that the "kiddos" had plenty to eat. During the second week there, he ran away and made it all the way from the wilderness camp in the woods to the Roxbury library before they found him a few hours later and before anyone called us. We made him finish the program anyway.

When he graduated from TN, he still had body dysmorphia, extreme anxiety, insomnia and OCD. At TN, he was hungry all the time and he learned to tolerate hunger. He has since lost an additional 25 pounds and been diagnosed with an eating disorder as well as with PTSD from the assisted intervention we used to transport him to the program and from other physical and emotional feelings of cold, isolation, fear and abandonment that he experienced while there. After more than a year, he still won’t sleep in his old bedroom because the memories of being “escorted” or “gooned” are too traumatic. He stays under the covers when it snows or if there are thunderstorms and has frequent panic attacks. He doesn't understand how we sent him to TN in the first place or, given his letters home and constant pleas, how we could possibly have left him there. He may never forgive or fully trust us again and, although I hope to change that, I can understand where he is coming from. TN had recommended that we send him to a therapeutic boarding school after graduation. We almost did. Thankfully, we changed our minds and brought him home so we could all heal together.

Within a few weeks after he came home, our son posted several negative reviews about TN using his own name as well as pseudonyms. He detailed the hunger, the weight loss and the running away, among other things. TN quickly abandoned any therapeutic interest in our son and became aggressively defensive about the business and hostile in their rhetoric towards him. We found their approach to his distress particularly shocking given the therapeutic nature of their role and the fact that, when our son graduated from TN, his course leader emphatically invited him to apply to be a guide one day in the future. We nonetheless asked our son to remove all but one review, which he did.

Thankfully, he is living home and now working really hard in outpatient therapy with a therapist who gives him hope and helps him build real skills to move forward. It is a long road and we are all learning to be patient.

I have thought long and hard about whether to post this review. After all this time, I have decided that I need to share my experience with others who are considering residential wilderness programs, especially for anxious kids with no history of substance abuse, violence or any other dangerous externalizing behaviors.

Every parent gets to decide what is best or right for their child. But I have concluded that no anxious 16 year old should be isolated from everyone he knows and loves and left to sleep in a tent for 93 consecutive days without heat or electricity during the brutal Vermont winter. I know that there isn’t enough support for kids who are struggling or for the parents of those children. The options are limited. But I have concluded that highly unregulated outdoor, therapeutic wilderness programs shouldn’t exist. It certainly was not an appropriate or effective therapeutic environment for our son. Collectively, we owe it to our children and to ourselves to find a better way to help them.

The original testimony on Google