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)