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.


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...


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.

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


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!


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.


søndag den 17. april 2016

Wilderness therapy as divorce tool

Wilderness programs are like other residential programs often used as weapons in divorces. Some parents and their legal advisers make use of the fact the court’s rulings in custody cases are not respected out of state. Where a lot of countries respect the Wiener convention about the dealing of custody after a divorce the individual states don’t respect the family courts in other states.

Lawyers know that and an out of state wilderness program is often a station or the tool itself to teach a child to hate the parent who is trying to keep them safe at home where they are surrounded by family, siblings and friends.

We have searched a little and found a specific case where the wilderness program Redcliff Ascent was used in a nasty divorce case. Here is the first statement from the parent left out:

My 15 year old stepson was abducted from his mother's (physical custodian) home, at her direction a month ago. He was taken to Redcliff Ascent in Utah. We have moved heaven and earth trying to get him out. He shouldn't be there, even his psychologist said it was totally unnecessary, and could be counter-productive. This is a good kid, never skipped school, no drugs, no drinking, never arrested. His crime? He refuses to submit to his mother's wacko screaming demands. He screams back. The problems are HERS. It is documented.

We tried to get a court order to remove him. Same thing.....got the same judge (marital master) who oversaw the divorce and has heard all the custody issues for the past 9 years. And has always been biased for the mother. We couldn't PROVE he would definitely be harmed by being at Redcliff (and she didn't care what the psychologist had to say about it) and we were DENIED.

My husband and his EX have Joint Legal Custody, yet Redcliff won't release the child unless we get a court order from a UTAH COURT (we live in NH). It doesn't matter to them that my husband is his father. Redcliff refused to recognize he has any rights whatsoever. And lately, they have refused to communicate with him at all.

In Redcliff's enrollment contract, they have a section to address withdrawal by another parent, and say they will simply release the child to the other parent, regardless of that parent's custodial status. But they have a whole different set of requirements for my husband. And they refuse to explain this. Hopefully our attorney can flush this out this week. In the meantime, my husband is inconsolable. He feels so helpless that he can't do anything for his son.

The parent continue with the legal process:
I am sad (understatement) to report that we have NO legal recourse. As long as the mother signed along with the sicko-wannabe-father, there is nothing we can do. Redcliff has a MORAL obligation in this, but not a legal one. And moral doesn't count in anyone's book but ours, and maybe with parents who are considering signing away their own parental rights away to Redcliff. The fact that the child's psychologist determined this was unwarranted, and could be counter-productive (and has proven to be so)is not something Redcliff has a legal obligation to recognize. As long as someone signs and pays, that's all they need. We learned that we DO, in fact, have to go to Utah and get a court order to make anything happen.....to even get the records that the NH court says he is entitled to. Geez, if we only had a couple of months to screw around with this legal stuff, while a child suffers. What a haven Utah is for the Wilderness Therapy Business. This is Day 33 for the boy. Nobody gives a rat's behind what he is going through.

I have been in contact with a lot of news agencies about this....radio, TV and newspapers...and it will be exposed.

Okay, I'm mad at the world right now. But I am NOT without resources. I WILL FIND A WAY to make sure this child has not suffered in vain. I know, that sounds melodramatic. Bear with me. I'm furious, and I'm worried. An innocent 15 year old child has been shat upon in the worst possible way by his own MOTHER (and sadly she has the legal right to call herself a MOTHER), and we have no recourse. The courts are heartless. His mother is heartless and disturbed.

Now his "mother" says she is going to spring him on the 2nd of September. Why? Because that's all his school is willing to allow...beyond that, they can't help him catch up, and he DOES have a minimum legal number of days to attend, even with a private Catholic School (we're not Catholic, he wasn't either.....his mother lied to the Priest to get him converted to assure his continued enrollment in Catholic School, while robbing his college fund to pay for it). But if he stayed at Redcliff, with the unsatisfactory progress he is reluctantly making, they expect he would be there until late September, or early October before being graduation-worthy.

So, given that he is not going to be allowed to graduate and get the sense of satisfaction that MIGHT give him, why is he staying until the 2nd of September? Wouldn't it make sense to pull him out now? No. His "mother" (and each time I am using the term more and more loosely) has PLANS. She has sailing events at the Yacht Club, and other plans with her boyfriend. So he must remain in the desert, humiliated and angry.

Family members (hers!) have tried to get her to remove him before any more damage can be done, but she is adamant. She has plans, and she won't be denied her "party time" while her son is not in her "care". In this case, this means while she flits about and the son's father sends her fat child support checks so she can feed her hairy live-in boyfriend.....while she has given her physical custody away to Redcliff Ascent. If nothing else, she's in for a surprise with regard to the child support.

I have a rhetorical question for anyone familiar with Utah law. IF a therapist hears directly from a child that the child has been repeatedly exposed to (and possibly the victim of) violence, and is afraid for his (or her) own safety, is that therapist required by law to report it to the authorities? Just "curious". Simply a rhetorical question. Anyone know?

We are afraid that September 2nd, when he will be picked up by his "mother", will bring a family tragedy. And our hands are tied.

I will keep up my efforts to expose this situation so other parents won't mistakenly think they are somehow protected by having Legal Custody. Yes, folks, a big business in Utah can take your child against his will, against YOUR will, and you have NO recourse. They can simply refuse to acknowledge you exist, and refuse to acknowledge there is an authorization in the file that allows you to have information about your child (even if you fax them a copy of it), and refuse to acknowledge you have any custodial rights given by the court in your home state (where the child was BORN, and where the jurisdiction for custody lies). It's NOT about the children. It's about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$.

In the end the child had to endure 80 days in the wilderness. The went to pick him up. Here is a entry made a short while after they picked him up:
I haven't posted in a long time. There was so much going on, and we had no luck removing my stepson from Redcliff by legal means. His mother's permission, and the permission of her 3rd ex-husband (representing himself as the boy's father), along with approximately $31,000 (including the cost of his abduction) was sufficient reason for Redcliff to keep him as long as possible, against my husband's wishes.

FINALLY he did graduate. It took 80 long days. We went to Utah and attended the parent's seminar. Trust me, nobody wants to go through that. It was ongoing hours of listening to Dr. Dan drone on about things that had absolutely no relevance. I went because I expected them to tell us what to expect, and about aftercare. Nope, it was just Dr. Dan enjoying hearing himself speak. People were nodding off. The boy had his FIRST SHOWER IN 80 DAYS. It took about 3 weeks to finally chisel all the filth off him. It's a wonder they didn't all have lice.

Fortunately, one good thing came out of this long saga. The boy revealed enough about his home life to his therapist there that we were able to gain custody of him.

We objected to him being sent to Redcliff because it was done without my husband's knowledge or consent, and against the advice of the boy's evaluating psychologist, who said it could be counterproductive. It was established that all he needed was some regular local counseling to deal with anger issues (and now we know...boy, did he ever have reason to be angry!) and a more stable home environment. For that, he was abducted by strangers and taken to Utah. We had never had any problems with him other than him being quite spoiled, and having a sense of entitlement.

That has sure changed. We brought him home from Utah, and it has been chaos ever since. The experience has nearly ruined him. Of course, he had to enter high school late, so he will likely end up in summer school to attempt to catch up. But he likes his new school. Other than that, he hates everything. He resents having rules to follow (very REASONABLE rules, I might add) and he has blatantly lied to us more times than I can count. He has gotten into trouble, and he refuses to accept that he is grounded as a consequence of his actions. Every day is a constant battle. We've tried to talk to him about the merits of being honest and trustworthy, and he just says that's a bunch of crap, and he doesn't care if he's trustworthy, and why would anybody spend any time thinking about trust? He is extremely disrespectful and cruel. He says he is not going to respect the rules, that he shouldn't HAVE any rules, etc. We read some of his written therapy assignments, in which he says how important trust & truth are, and how he wants to be a better person. He now admits, he learned to play the Redcliff Game, and knew what was expected of him to make him worthy of graduating. All the kids learn the game. He just took longer than average.

Redcliff was advised within a few days of accepting him into their program, that his psychologist warned this was not right for him. They were given a copy of his evaluation. I told him in a letter that the psychologist said he shouldn't be there, and we were trying to get him out. Because I did that, I was banned from writing to him. Now he says his Redcliff therapist told him a different story. She allegedly told the boy she spoke to his psychologist, and she read the evaluation, and she stressed that he DID say he needed to be there. We contacted the psychologist and he said he never heard from anyone from Redcliff. Because he has done nothing but lie since he arrived, I wouldn't be inclined to believe him, but he volunteered the information. And the therapist had lied to us on at least one occasion that we know of, so who knows what the truth is.

Regardless, I would say to any parent who is considering Redcliff: Don't buy into the advertising. Keep in mind that the success statistics they quote on their website were compiled by people who are (directly or indirectly) affiliated with Redcliff (one is actually on their board of directors). Do your research. It DOES NOT WORK. In our case, they knowingly accepted a kid who didn't need it, accepted him under false pretenses, refused to allow his father to withdraw him, and turned him into a frighteningly angry young man. We sleep with our wallets and car keys. His mother turned her relatively normal son over to Redcliff. He had some very justified anger issues over his home life. She expected them to fix him, when she was the one who needed fixing. After 80 days, we returned home with an extremely angry, unmotivated, sarcastic and cruel young man. Redcliff is nothing more than a lucrative business, operating at the expense of children and their families, and a feeder program to get kids into even more lucrative boarding schools. They should be ashamed of themselves. They feed off the desperation of parents, promising to repair their broken children, and teach them responsibility, accountability, and integrity. I mentioned integrity the other day, and he said "What is that?". When I explained, he dismissed it as something he had no interest in. So what DID he learn at Redcliff? He learned how to build a fire without matches, and he learned how to use a knife.

Even though we told Redcliff that nobody in the family could afford to send him to boarding school....it was NOT an option, they continued to provide him with brochures, and even the field staff told him to keep pressing his parents to let him go on to boarding school (I have the field staff's journal notes to prove it). That's where the big money is, so they try to lure the kids on board. The kids don't know any better. They don't understand it's all a big money making scheme.

So, overall it was one big disaster. He has been set behind in school, his attitude is frightening, and we have a LONG road ahead of us. Every day is a new challenge, or a repeat of an old challenge. Nobody from Redcliff has called to ask how he's doing. They don't want to know. They took a good kid and created a monster. They are still counting the cash. And we are trying to save a kid they destroyed.

Time went by and the parent made a final update where they evaluated the traumatic experience.
I thought I'd pop in to give an update on my stepson. He finished his 80-day sentence at Redcliff over 7 months ago. Nobody from Redcliff has called, written or otherwise contacted us since his release.

We are enduring his rage episodes every 8 - 10 weeks on average, and they last from two to five days each time. The time between episodes is good. He's almost the person he was before he got sent to Redcliff. We get along well, and he behaves at school but he's having difficulty keeping up. He's had a challenging workload due to missing 8 weeks of school while he was at Redcliff.

He only talks about Redcliff when he's in a rage, and his memories are not fond ones. Even though we didn't send him there, and did everything possible to get him out, he is still angry with us. Once in a while, he has the opportunity to direct his rage at his mother and that offers him some relief for a while. She still affects his life negatively, and continues to do hurtful things to him, which make his healing more challenging. Just sending him into isolation for 80 days wasn't enough for her.

When my stepson was in Redcliff, they charged $425 per day for the first 60 days. Now they charge $440. Before they charged $160 for every day beyond 60. Now that is $220 per day. That's quite an increase in 7 months! I hope the increase is due to reduced "enrollment". Maybe the cost of dried oats and lentils has gone up. Maybe the Redcliff owners all bought houses they can't afford. I'm sure there's some reason for the increase. I'm just excited to know that parents will have to dig a little deeper in their pockets before turning their children over to these people to be "fixed". Maybe that will save a few kids.

I remain


It is very clear that there is no way a residential stay can benefit a family going through a divorce process. And it is also clear that judges in the childs homestate should hold a parent who arrange for a stay in wilderness program in contempt by jailing them until the child is returned home. A legal loophole exist and this loophole should be repaired.


søndag den 20. marts 2016

Is there abuse going on in the Redcliff Ascent wilderness program?

It is a difficult question to answer. Fact is that this company lives of dragging teenager away from family and friends. The entire enterprise violates the core in our understanding of the social structure which holds a civilized country together. In Denmark we have realized that you cannot look away from the social heritage. If a child drinks too much alcohol or tend to abuse drugs there is often adult role models involved who battles alcohol addiction or abuse prescription drugs. The same goes for incest. It seems to be a phenomenon passing through generations.

In Denmark too much evidence has been presented and it now a new course has been set. There is no such thing as underachievement. Denmark is properly the first country in the world which will lower the percentage of youth graduating high school. There is no reason to keep teenagers in high school if they don’t use their high school exam for anything. Then it makes more sense to refer teenagers after only 9 years of schooling into apprenticeship at carpenter, painters and other handymen at an early age so they can enter the work force earlier and become low income tax-payers right away instead of delaying it three years.

But in order to make these improvements the parents misguided ambitions must be defeated. Of parents are in self-denial. If they have no heavy academic background their children will often fail. If they battle alcohol or drug addiction as well, they should make their children aim at lower goals in life. And it is self-denial which too often results in sending teenagers to wilderness programs. To add to the damage they often don’t inform their children about the decision in advance. So once the children are in the field without knowing what the purpose with the stay is or for how long the stay is, the risk of confrontation is high. How are these confrontations handled? Is it abuse? Opinions are divided among experts but among the children the answer is clear. Abuse took place in the past. Statements have been found on several message board. One is queted below.

Ok, just skimmed throuhg the posts and had to post again, as I forgot to get to this in my rant.

As for the abuse at redcliff, it WAS there. while there was no real physical abuse that I saw (of course, when you are there, you are in a group of about 7-15 with 3 counslers, so who knows about the other groups) there was still abuse. If someone didn't do exaclty as they were told, they could be punished with lack of food, loss of "needed" gear, like tarps to cover with in rain, jackets or the "privilage" of getting warmer clothes from your "stash". I say privilage, because you had a certain ammount of clothes, you didn't want to carry them all, so you could swap out from your bag every 2 weeks. You had to guess what was coming, cuase you could be in shorts hikeing in the snow or in a sweater in the valley, very hot. There'd be times when you just weren't allowed to get warmer clothes. Other punishments where the "cart", though I only heard about that, the "red suite" (an bright red, and very thick and hot jump suite you'd be forced to wear...no matter what temp. it was. Emotional and psychilogical abuse from yelling and degrading, to not allowing letters and just being down right cruel, even eploiting a childs past to degrade them, to physically restraining in a painfull, though "not harfull" manner.

And yes, if you "got with the program" it did not happen to you. So if you just went along with everything, you probobly didn't see the abuse. The reason, and I'm guessing here, is to give good testimonials. Bad child goes to camp, comes back with a positive experince and outlook. Or, bad child goes to camp, can't "hack it", is abused and mistreated, comes out, no one belives because this child was just "beyond help".

Sad isn't it. I could just imagine what CPS hell I'd be in if I took a child out into the desert, fed him rice twice a day, didn't allow him access to a bathroom, or even allow him to bathe, pushed him to the point of physical exhasution every day, then topped it all off by telling him how terrible he is, and how with the power of attorny I now have, I can do what every I want and he couldn't even tell anyone of the abuse. No wonder places like this get shut down, investigated and sued often


søndag den 14. februar 2016

Considering wilderness for your child (Video)

This video was found on youtube. A lot of advice from a former participant in several wilderness programs.

søndag den 24. januar 2016

"westbeth" at Open Sky Wilderness program

Open Sky Wilderness has an office in Colorado but operates in Utah wilderness areas. This testimony was made by a former participant aged over 18 where the testimonies normally in this blog is made by people who were minors at their time in the program. All rights go to the author known as "Westbeth"

I was at Open Sky in the over 18 program. They were not abusive.

I was in the voluntary program, of course. In theory I could have left at any time. In practice, you have to walk ten miles to a phone with your 50-pound pack, which was not an option I seriously considered. You also get a guide haranguing you the whole way, and an ‘in case we need emotional blackmail’ letter from your parents. Apparently in the under 18 group they took everyone’s shoes at lights out to prevent runaways. [and encourage bedwetting, presumably.]

The guides in my group were pretty clearly sticking to the rules, and the policies were reasonable and safe, as long as never being unmonitored seems reasonable. They did have me strip, squat, and cough, but they never touched me. They made an itemized list of all the belongings I brought, taped the boxes shut, and stored them while I watched. While I was there, nothing escalated to the point where physical restraint would be reasonable, and nobody was allowed to touch anyone else, except for hugs when permission had been explicitly given. Obviously, packs were adjusted, blisters were taped, we gave a hand over rocks, but nothing hinky.

Nobody really got disciplined for anything much while I was there, except for things where you lost privileges like using a knife or going on extra excursions.

For me, Open Sky was 85% a waste of time and 15% helpful. It was basically really frequent group therapy, with a (fairly gentle) dose of boot camp, and wilderness mysticism. They keep you busy 24/7 – basically no unscheduled time. You’re either doing the basic hiking/camping stuff, or you’re working on self-reflection assignments. The assignments were not helpful for me. If you’ve spent more than 2 minutes in therapy, you’ve already done all of it, though maybe not in such an organized way, or with a whole group of people looking over your shoulder. Being required to journal every day was helpful.
Open Sky might have been more helpful if I had been dealing with substance abuse issues instead of depression. Maybe the incredibly authoritarian rules and emotional manipulation would have been easier to swallow if it actually had a purpose with me.

We didn’t spend much time with actual therapists – once a week, with a fairly defined script – not especially helpful. The guides did most of the heavy lifting, on a game plan they cleared with the therapists.

They did take into account individual capabilities. The most strenuous stuff we did was carrying firewood and water for our camp, and if you said you couldn’t take a full load, you would still have to carry a partial load. Peer pressure to carry your weight was definitely there, but we also helped each other out when we had trouble with physical stuff.

The other 3-7 people in your group are intimately involved with your work. They all have their own issues. Watching the other people in my group, I think Open Sky would have been totally useless if it hadn’t been my idea, and if I hadn’t gone into it wanting to do the work. Even starting from there, the almost totally inflexible rules and blatant manipulation kind of alienated me, and I spent a lot of time reminding myself that even though much of it seemed stupid, I had decided to try it their way, and it wouldn’t help if I wasn’t sincere.

I got the impression not everyone had that attitude; one girl in particular was incredibly two-faced – what we said around the guides and what she said to the rest of us were very different. Everyone was there voluntarily, but some people it was because they had gotten an ultimatum from their parents. The people who decided themselves got a lot more done; one of the other guys was basically just telling them what they wanted to hear.

Going in, I had no idea what it was actually going to be like. They didn’t give any hint of the ten-mile to a phone rule, and I asked about it. The receptionist I talked to gave the impression that a few materials like books could be kept if they got approval, and then they didn’t do any thing about the stuff I had asked them to get approved, so I have no idea if it would have passed or not.

All in all, Open Sky seems safe if not generally effective, but people definitely need to be wary.

In January 2016 it was reported that some of the young people attending the program had to be treated for frostbites. As you can read above they have a policy of collecting boots before night which is properly the key factor causing these injuries.


søndag den 17. januar 2016

Reaction on Brat Camp reality show

The first season of Brat Camp in United Kingdom featured Redcliff Ascent. Here is a testimony given on Fornits:

Ok this show is straight nonsense as far as I can see for right now. I went to RCA and that place is no joke. The little bit of film that I've seen of it is so far off the spectrum it's unreal. Honestly I'm sorta stuck on where to even begin because when I went to RCA I was 15 years old. I'm now 22 and can honestly say that I still resent my parents for ever sending me there. It was not what fixed my problems for me and did nothing for the drug habit that I had already well endowed into myself. I was going through crazy withdrawls that were shown no simpathy, and no matter how messed up you are to people and what you have done, hiking 12 miles a day and making fires out of sticks, and having people downtalk you while you hike will not make you feel better about yourself.

I also don't want parents to think that this is necessarily a safe place either, and Redcliff can quote me on this next part that I'm about to get into.

When you go to RCA you have to go to the DR's and you usually go within a group that you have arrived at about the same time with. On the way to and from you have to blindfold yourself in order to "Not know where your going" In the middle of Utah though you have no idea where the hell you are neways. So anyways our driver thought he was just too hot to trot and was going way too fast on a dirt road for any vehicle especially for the lifted Suburban that we were in. So we start fishtailing then eventually the Suburban flips over and whaddya know...A whole bunch of injuries occur. The kid next to me wasn't wearing a seat belt and injured his neck, I shattered the growth plate in my left arm, one of the female counslers got hit in the face with a gasoline canister that we carried water in, another kid cut his hand open.....Needless to say it was an eventful day. Not over yet though. If I knew what was going to come next I would have ran away, it was chaotic enough and the problem was though most of us were too injured to do anything about it. After 45 minutes of waiting for an ambulance, and another hour trip into town we received medical attention at the hospital. All of us asked to speak with our parents to let them know what happened and that we were ok and everything. WELL THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. We all had counslers with us the entire time to make sure that we didn't use the phone to even call out parents. I mean what is that? My parents did not know the severity of the situation that the driver was showboating whilest driving and it was his fault that we were injured. The DR's that treated every one said that we needed bed rest for a few days, the counslers said that wouldn't be possible and so for all of us that were injured we got taken to Wendy's for food and the 2 kids in Neck Braces along with me and all the others that were injured went back into the field the same night. Now I know this was a severe instence of something that could happen newhere but the people there are not about your well being and you becoming someone better. You see the Therapist once a week or maybe every other I forget but you only talk to them for like 30 minutes and they tell you what you need to do. My therapist suggested my folks not write me as much so that I could focus on me and that looking for letters from them sets me up for failure. In the middle of nowhere, with no idea of when you'll get out, no help for drug addiction which is half the kids problems, and no letters from the parents...You tell me does that sound helpful.

In the end I was at RCA for 88 days. There was a kid that had been there for 4 months when I got there and was still there when I left. The kid had a learning disability and was unable to focus on bookwork like we did. Since it's also part of the curriculum he was just sorta stuck but had become so accustomed to living there that you felt no need to change.

My group had the handcart because we were a bunch of injured retards. Like I say the money is not worth it for the parents, the resentmeant that alot of us feel towards our parents is not worth it, and for some it does change them completely but for others it just shows them to not get caught. I also did 35 days of my time with a cast (Which shoulda been 28 but they didn't have time to take me to the DR.) An experience I wish I had never lived and I thank ABC Family for making it seem like it's some sorta joke or something, I sure hope you give it a proper justification.
So my name is Matthew R. aka Gimpy (From the Injury) aka Storm Fox the name I was given in my name ceremony at RCA.

Oh yeah sometime people should look up the day that the kids rebelled at RCA when counslers got beat up and rebelled in an uprising...That's always a good story.

And why the hell are the kids English or something? I don't understand TV sometimes.

The original testmony (Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora)