fredag den 25. oktober 2013

XOJane has an article about the lessons learned in wilderness programs

On the webpage of XOJane - a website where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded - Julia Beatty tells her story about the lessons learned from a stay in wilderness therapy program in Montana when she was a young teenager.

Now years later she had time to reflect about the lessons learned. Her statement is that there are few lessons to take back into real life. The evaluation she received before entering the program failed to set a goal with her stay at the program. As result the stay in the program did only bring a time-out for her and her family.

It is an important lesson she gives to parents to a teenager suffering from emotional problems during the rite of passage towards adulthood.

Without a proper examination of the teenager before making the decision to send the teenager it is almost certain that the program would not benefit the teenager but rather make the rebellion harder.

Parents also have to take into consideration that most educational consultants and even employees of some of the wilderness program receive money from advising and referring clients to residential treatment programs or special boarding schools. Can they as parents be sure that they are given advices which are in the best interest of the teenager?

In no way!! Money is always more important than anything else. Most such special schools are run for profit. Living as an educational consultant is of course for profit so the idea that they receive money from both parents and program is common.

Julia Beatty was most finished struggling during adolescence when she returned home from the wilderness program. She had to meet ups and downs for years before she found her way of living an adult life. Life became very much the same as if she hadn't gone to the program. Her parent’s money was wasted.


søndag den 18. august 2013

Can you ever go back?

A survivor from an unknown wilderness program asks on Reddit how she can return to normal life after having been banished to a wilderness program and another program.

And it is difficult. Only teenagers who have been banished and discarded from their family can understand the empty black hole they have in their hearts. They are also the only persons who can understand the ordeals and misery they had endured during the hikes; the starvation and the thirst when the guide’s loss track of their location as it happened in the wilderness.

Maybe it is why the teenagers find themselves abandoned by their friends who have kept their standards. It is impossible to explain the feelings and it might scare them off when the survivor speaks of things which should have been forbidden to expose minors to considering that we live in year 2013.

Their friends are simply not educated to deal with the issues any residential placement inflicts on the survivors. In many cases it takes professionals years - even decades to deal with the posttraumatic stress wilderness program often inflicts on the survivors.

Can you give meaningful advice to such a survivor?

It is difficult to answer.

Has anyone else experienced social anxiety after returning to normal life? (Reddit)

søndag den 28. juli 2013

Blog: 63 Days in the Desert

This blog is a work in progress based on journals made many years before.

The wilderness program is the Challenger Foundation which transformed the wilderness programs from being positive outings to boot camp styled punishments. Did they plan ahead to secure that the children were secured by having backup teams ready with emergency supplies? No. They ran a risky operation and what history later told them were that they were lucky not to having killed more students.

Still despite the punishments and the ordeals these teenagers had to endure they got something from the programs. They got new friends they bonded with under pressure from the instructors. Until the former students die they will share the memories of friendships acquired under extreme circumstances.

However, maybe the price of these friendships was too high because they were forced to leave some behind. For teenagers like Kristen Chase the price was too high because she never made it back to her family.

Regardless of the opinion we have made of the program try to read the blog with an open mind. Everyone carried their own memories back home. Memories which would mark their lives forever.


søndag den 14. juli 2013

Blog: Challenger: Summer 1989

Before Challenger there were outbound programs where the goal was to give children from the cities a positive wilderness experience.

Challenger invented wilderness boot camps. Today no wilderness program will state that they are operated like a boot camp. They will use a lot of space trying to tell people that the main focus is therapy.

But the fact is that wilderness programs today function very similar to Challenger.

Another side effect is the children who die in programs. Challenger started this trend and wilderness programs continue to claim the lives of teenagers to this very day. Wilderness programs are not safe regardless of what programs like "Brat Camp" makes it look.

Wilderness programs are deadly!

The author behind the blog survived and she is using her diary to give the readers a rare insight in how it was to be an innocent teenager who was dragged out in the desert by strangers from their own bed without any warning in the middle of the night.


søndag den 16. juni 2013

Book: Janice's Journey

In 2006 a Danish teenager went on a holiday at her mother’s place or at least so she believed. As it turned out differences in the Danish and American youth culture meant that she found herself categorized as an at-risk teen despite being regarded a normal school girl in Denmark.

She has told her story to the Ylä Maatila who helped her rewrite her diary and various notebook entries into a biography which are published for free at Movellas.

Her story deals with the issue of being dumped in an alien culture with values very unlike the values she had been raised with.

Can she use the skills learned to change her destiny outlined for her due the special Danish structure with social classes structuring the future of young Danes based on their social heritage or will she return to Denmark having remained true to the cultural standards of her birth culture?

Janice's journey (by Janice Jensen and Ylä Maatila)

søndag den 5. maj 2013

Movie: Coldwater

From the homepage of the movie:

Brad Lunders is a teenager forcefully abducted from his home in the middle of the night by his mother’s consent to a harsh wilderness reform facility. There is no contact with the outside world and the retired war colonel in charge prides himself on breaking an inmate’s spirit in order to correct delinquent behavior. As we learn of the tragic events that led to Brad’s arrival, unforeseen circumstances threaten to tear the already eroding reform facility apart, forcing Brad to confront not only his fellow inmates and the personnel in charge, but finally his own sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Homepage of the movie

søndag den 31. marts 2013

Freddy at Sagewalk

Freddy McConnel died in 2011.

Before his death he went to the wilderness program called Sagewalk, which were closed in 2009 due to a death in the program. He also entered a rehab facility in South Africa.

He had written his story before he died and parts of it was published in the British Newspaper Daily Mail online.

Here is a part of the article.

I arrived at the SageWalk office scared out of my wits. I was stripped of my belongings and clothes and given a bright orange uniform similar to those worn in prison. I was handcuffed, blindfolded and thrust into the back of an SUV for a two-hour drive into the Oregon desert where, with a large, heavy rucksack containing a sleeping bag, rice, lentils and farina (a sort of carbo¬hydrate gloop), a small tarpaulin, orange clothes and hiking boots, I was left in the ‘care’ of two of the hillbillies who accompanied us.

I at once refused to do anything they said and to my horror received a slap to the face. I told them that that was illegal but they ignored me and, as I further protested, one of them pushed me and I fell face- first to the ground, cutting my face and starting to bleed. I recall shrieking amid tears of anguish for my dad to save me but it was to no avail.

About a week into my stay, we were backpacking and there was a small rock face, maybe 10ft high, that we had to climb with our backpacks on. We had already hiked about five miles that day and I was feeling faint.

Halfway up, I lost consciousness for a second, or just lost my footing, and fell 5ft on to a rock. I landed back first and experienced an excruciating pain.

When I put my hand to my back to inspect the damage I felt a hot, thick trickle of blood. I asked for a doctor but received instead a kick to the ribs and an order to keep on hiking. The next break wasn’t for another mile-and-a-half. I have since seen doctors and had X-rays and it seems that it is a permanent injury. This makes me feel extremely bitter and upset.

There were no phones so I couldn’t talk to my parents and the letters were checked before we sent them so I couldn’t tell them what was happening.

I delayed telling my parents even after I was let out because there is a policy that if the child misbehaves within two years, they can be sent back for free.

The brutality continued for two months until I was set free. It was like being born again but I carried a huge amount of resentment.

Needless to say that what little trust was left in his parents, he was now afraid of them but the harsh treatment did not cure him of his addiction. It only postpones his abuse of drugs for some months because harsh treatment is not healing treatment.

Voluntary programs being run locally based on the need of the addicts is the answer, but that kind of information is hidden by the owners of residential programs.

Sadly the treatment he got was of no use and the world lost not only an 18 year old boy but also a very talented musician.

May his ordeal never be forgotten so youth with addictions can be helped in a decent manner.


lørdag den 9. februar 2013

Escape attempt from Second Nature Wilderness program

hahaha it's really embarassing (but mostly hilarious) to me now that I really did try to run away...from the middle of fucking nowhere, desert, UT.

I don't even have a really entertaining story, except for how crazy the girl I ran away with was.

Basically: We were crushing and sifting (everyone's favorite) one day, and because you had to go out a little ways to sift it, it was one of the only chances we got (at 2N duchesne, anyway) to talk out of staff earshot. So this other girl in my group who I was decent friends with, got there the same day as, essentially comes up to me and asks if i want to run away with her because she was going anyway.
Random, sure, but it's wilderness.

I'd only been there about 3 weeks at that point and still really hated it. and because I'm the master of good decisions (I mean, aren't most people that get sent to wilderness?), I said sure, why not, let's go.

So we quickly plotted that right before we were supposed to start hiking that day, one of us would "need" to go dig a cathole, and one of us was going to go pee. The other girl (I believe her name was Lauren) met up with me while I was pretending to dig my cathole with my handy little billy, and we took off running, probably no more than two hours after we first decided to run.

Obviously, this was a really smart idea, running off in the middle of the utah desert with no food and one nalgene of water. but again, I wasn't exactly at wilderness because of my responsible decision making skills.

After we had been gone two or three hours, we spotted one of those oil rigger trucks (people who went to duchesne probably know what I'm talking about).
So because this girl was PRETTY damn crazy, she decides that we're going to either knock this guy out with a big rock and steal his car...
or, if we couldn't find a rock big enough, she wanted to use my extra cordage i had in my pocket to fucking STRANGLE the guy.

Of course, at that point, I was not so enthusiastic about the whole deal anymore. I knew we were gonna get caught in the first place, and I really had just wanted some excitement.

Obviously i was NOT about to try to kill someone/get thrown in jail for stealing a car. after i told her i was not going along with her really bad and certifiably insane idea, she decided she'd just try to get him to give us a ride to SLC for sex.

No, i'm not kidding. of course i said that was also a really bad idea, but she went up to him (out of our hiding place in the bushes, literally) before I could talk her out of it.

I don't think she was as crazy as she wanted to seem, tho, because she made it incredibly obvious that we were from 2N from her story. so he goes into his truck and gets out his radio, and she tries to get me to run again. by that time i was bored, tired, and a little freaked out by this girl, so i refuse to run and just sit down.

lo and behold, 10, 15 minutes later--3 different trucks speed up. for those of you who knew KELLY (he gave us supplies for trailwork and also just randomly showed up on badass man), he got out of his truck and promptly asked us (more like yelled loudly) what the fuck we were thinking. Followed by a fun string of more profanities and the like.

Well, that was in 2004 (september), and i still wouldn't have a good answer for the man. But it is kinda funny. sometimes I wonder what happened to that other girl. She was pretty fucking crazy, even though I'm convinced some of it was just an act. Of course, she got pulled from second nature her 5th or 6th week by her parents. THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN THE TREATMENT WORLD, I TELL YA.

but yeah...that's my "O'm retarded and ran away from wilderness" story.

(btw, I was in group 8 at second nature duchesne with ian, from september 1, 2004 through the end of october. If anyone was with me, let me know! I miss those girls!)


lørdag den 12. januar 2013

Escape attempts from Aspen Achievement Academy

In the Facebook group called I survived wilderness, the question was asked: Did you try to escape. Two former detainees from Aspen Achievement Academy replied This wilderness program was a notorious wilderness program which operated from 1988 to 2011. Suicide attempts, escapes and even deaths marked the years the program was operating.

Here is the first testimony from NSK:

I did. And i got away. I was at A.A.A. winter of 03' and i was there one night in G3. And on the first day i was there i saw some trucks and some work being done(i dont know what they were doing), anyway I was cold, and one day out of detox so I wanted to kill myself. I just started walking, then running.

I made it to the sight where these men were doing work with lots of trucks, well I just ran over, and jumped into a big truck. locked the doors, and(I will never forget).. there was DORITOS... Nutty Butters.....Mountain due.... and .... Marlboro Light cigarettes.. I sat and ate and smoked and drank as the workers were calling AAA.

Then a staff came and we got into a little fight, I thought i would rather be in jail then there. Well anyway she told me that if I got out of the truck I could write my mom. So that is what i did. But as most of you know, once you are stuck there you are there for good. And funny enough at the end i did not want to leave. It did help me become who i am today. I still talk to one girl who is also doing great. Hay if any one else went to AAA in the winter of 99 with a girl named XXXXX and you know how she is doing please let me know. well ok, now you know I TRIED TO RUN AWAY!!!!!

Another detainee - EC wrote:

Aspen Achievement Academy may 23rd 2007, My 16th birthday and I was mad as all hell. So mad I could not believe i was in rehab for my sweet sixteen, but I ran with a girl named XXX XXXXXX. I was in G2 and we made it 27 miles, we left right after ball bundles. We had converse and oh lord my feet have never hurt so bad. We were about a mile outside of town and got spotted and called in.

No one ever gets away from AAA. Ever. hahahah I thought I would be an exception.. naahhhh

I loved wilderness though. I miss it sometimes. I met my best friends there.

In 1996 an entire group ran away. While the two teenagers above didn't make it out as result of their escape attempt, they didn't die out there.