Author Topic: My VQ boot camp experience  (Read 21391 times)

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Offline zer0sleep

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My VQ boot camp experience
« on: August 28, 2011, 11:42:09 PM »
Fort Charles Young - VisionQuest, 1998


I was a juvenile offender with a history of drug posession charges and probation violations, all of which were related to my mental illness and addiction issues. At age 17 I was offered a "choice" -- three months at VQ's "Boot and Hat Camp" or six months in juvie. I made the worst mistake of my young life when I chose the Buffalo Soldiers camp.

I was placed in a barracks with violent offenders: an attempted muderer (stabbing), a girl who had set fire to an elementary school with children inside, among others. I was there for being a "nuisance to the court" and driving without a license.

We were stripped of our identities and forced to refer to ourselves as "this trooper." "This trooper needs to use the toilet, sir." "Well TOO BAD!" They drove us so hard physically I was forced to sneak sips of water from the kitchen tap when we had cleanup duty; I was so thirsty I thought I might pass out. I had heard of another kid, a boy, who had died of dehydration the year before. He was forced onto his face by the DIs and, with his mouth shoved into the ground, accidentally made to inhale rocks. It killed him.

Most people don't know that there were females at the VQ boot camp. We had a male Lieutenant who supervised our "troop". His second in command, "Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant So-and-so" was accused of sexually abusing some of the younger girls in my troop. Several girls complained privately to the camp nurse. But rather than being fired he was transfered to a male group of "troopers".

We were forced to do hours and hours of greuling physical training (PT) each day. At one point we females had to move railroad ties manually. There was no therapy, no discussion, and no counseling. The entire program was designed for punishment and maximum terror.

If a child could not perform physically to the arbitrary standards set by a DI, she would be punished by being denied a meal. Technically you would have to keep performing the task until you "did it right" but by the time you did, mealtime was over.

The school programming was a joke. I was in the gifted and talented program at my high school. The teachers employed by VQ were barely qualified to teach elementary students. I was given crap newspapers to read (with color illustrations) and told to be quiet. I learned absolutely nothing during my three months of incarceration, and fell behind the rest of my high school class.

We were promised a trip off the mountain to perform a "drill" dance if we behaved, but this never happened. Essentially I spent three months being tortured by sadistic adults who took their misguided anger issues out on minors.

Two female DIs felt terrible about our treatment and confided this to me behind closed doors. One of them quit, unable to bear it, and the other stayed on to try to run interference between the other staff and the children. Naturally the nicer staff members never received promotions or raises. The crueler they treated the youth, the faster they advanced professionally.

I am now 32 years old. I occasionally still have nightmares about the abuses I experienced at Fort Charles Young. Mentally ill, addicted, poverty stricken, and emotionally damaged kids were mocked to their faces. The staff laughed when we cried. I am SICKENED to realize that places like this are still in operation today.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 09:53:52 AM by zer0sleep »

Offline Judge Joe Brown

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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 12:47:12 AM »
deleted September 8, 2011
« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 12:28:00 AM by Judge Joe Brown »

Offline Xelebes

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 01:01:55 AM »
Those characters don't render on my end, Joe.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 11:22:46 AM »
Quote from: "Judge Joe Brown"
Quote from: "zer0sleep"
Fort Charles Young - VisionQuest, 1998


I was a juvenile offender with a history of drug posession charges and probation nviolations, all of which were related to my heroin addiction.  At age 17 I was offered a "choice" -- three months at VQ's "Boot and Hat Camp" or six months in juvie. I made the worst mistake of my young life when I chose the Buffalo Soldiers camp.

I was placed in a barracks with violent offenders: an attempted muderer (stabbing), a girl who had set fire to an elementary school with children inside, among others. I was there for being a "nuisance to the court" and driving without a license.

We were stripped of our identities and forced to refer to ourselves as "this trooper." "This trooper needs to use the toilet, sir." "Well TOO BAD!" They drove us so hard physically I was forced to sneak sips of water from the kitchen tap when we had cleanup duty; I was so thirsty I thought I might pass out. I had heard of another kid, a boy, who had died of dehydration the year before. He was forced onto his face by the DIs and, with his mouth shoved into the ground, accidentally made to inhale rocks. It killed him.

Most people don't know that there were females at the VQ boot camp. We had a male Lieutenant who supervised our "troop". His second in command, "Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant So-and-so" was accused of sexually abusing some of the younger girls in my troop. Several girls complained privately to the camp nurse. But rather than being fired he was transfered to a male group of "troopers".

We were forced to do hours and hours of greuling physical training (PT) each day. At one point we females had to move railroad ties manually. There was no therapy, no discussion, and no counseling. The entire program was designed for punishment and maximum terror.

If a child could not perform physically to the arbitrary standards set by a DI, she would be punished by being denied a meal. Technically you would have to keep performing the task until you "did it right" but by the time you did, mealtime was over.

The school programming was a joke. I was in the gifted and talented program at my high school. The teachers employed by VQ were barely qualified to teach elementary students. I was given crap newspapers to read (with color illustrations) and told to be quiet. I learned absolutely nothing during my three months of incarceration, and fell behind the rest of my high school class.

We were promised a trip off the mountain to perform a "drill" dance if we behaved, but this never happened. Essentially I spent three months being tortured by sadistic adults who took their misguided anger issues out on minors.

Two female DIs felt terrible about our treatment and confided this to me behind closed doors. One of them quit, unable to bear it, and the other stayed on to try to run interference between the other staff and the children. Naturally the nicer staff members never received promotions or raises. The crueler they treated the youth, the faster they advanced professionally.

I am now 32 years old. I occasionally still have nightmares about the abuses I experienced at Fort Charles Young. Mentally ill, addicted, poverty stricken, and emotionally damaged kids were mocked to their faces. The staff laughed when we cried. I am SICKENED to realize that places like this are still in operation today.
?? ???? ??? ??
Quote from: "Xelebes"
Those characters don't render on my end, Joe.
Google translates it from Korean -> English to read: "Flies and tears too thrilled."
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Judge Joe Brown

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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2011, 05:25:11 PM »
deleted September 8, 2011
« Last Edit: September 08, 2011, 12:25:26 AM by Judge Joe Brown »

Offline zer0sleep

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2011, 02:21:38 PM »
Quote from: "Judge Joe Brown"
"It was so touching, I almost cried"

Thank you. We were not permitted to speak -- not ever, not even in a whisper -- to each other. I spent three months effectively mute. Interesting way to build a "team", no? This had the result of keeping us psychologically isolated even in a group. Despite my frequent psychiatric hospitalizations for bipolar disorder, I was denied medication for the duration.

When I was incarcerated it was the dead of winter. We were outside 14+ hours a day, and as punishment we were forced to sit in the snow without coats (sweatshirts only). We had to "duck walk" in circles around our barracks while male DIs gazed down from above, until our legs literally collapsed. We were woken in the middle of the night to drill outside in the dark. I still have occasional nightmares that I am back in that place, and it's been 14 years.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Che Gookin

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2011, 12:52:11 AM »
Where in the world did they get the staff for this place?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline zer0sleep

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2011, 09:47:51 AM »
A member of this board, youthadvocate, worked there. He said:

"I worked there several years ago myself at the boot camp. And I know what you mean about the full circle "program." There's no program at all. And I definitely noticed the blase outlook of their staff. As far as doing something to get it shut down, I would suggest taking the advice of contacting agencies. You could contact DPW directly and tell them your concerns. I would not suggest secret video taping as it would breaking the confidentiality of the youth and would have serious legal implications for you as well as get you banned from working with kids in the future."

Another choice memory: when the staff discovered that I am bisexual, they took me aside for a little private powwow. Did I understand that I was not to sexually assault the other troopers? Was I attracted to any other girl in particular?? They discussed putting me in my own isolated barracks to sleep but decided against it. I imagine that they were afraid of a discrimination lawsuit. It was dehumanizing and humiliating. "You know you'll get in trouble if you have sexual contact riiiight?" Why did they only say that to *me* as opposed to simply making a statement to the entire platoon?

Our head DI ("Lieutenant") was a sadistic bastard. He made us haul railroad ties because he was angry at being assigned to a girls' platoon. He needed to "prove" that we could be as browbeaten...oops, I mean physically strong...as any male group. As a result I gained a twelve-inch scar down my calf from a sharp metal railroad tie being dropped on my leg.

The official reason I was sent to Ft. Charles Young was for driving without a license. The judge was tired of seeing me and rather than recognize that I had serious problems at home, chose to label me a "nuisance to the court". So I was forced into a far more severe punishment than my crime warranted. I remember one girl was there for lighting an elementary school on fire with kids inside, and another had been convicted of attempted murder for stabbing someone. Nobody believed me when I explained my reason for being there.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cmack

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2011, 01:17:28 AM »
Powerful stories, terrible experiences. Thanks for posting.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cindiford79

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2011, 02:48:44 PM »
Your experience sounds absolutely awful. I can't believe they let adults treat children that way. I work for a facility here in Oregon that is a shelter for foster kids and a juvenile detention. The oversight we have is crazy. If anything our facility is opposite, the kids are allowed to abuse the staff and we have little we can do to keep ourselves safe. In my opinion there is a need for some types of facilities even if these kids are in this position because their parents have failed, they still need a place to be. Adults should never be allowed to abuse the kids though. Thank you for sharing your experience.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Ursus

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2011, 03:21:44 PM »
Quote from: "cindiford79"
Your experience sounds absolutely awful. I can't believe they let adults treat children that way. I work for a facility here in Oregon that is a shelter for foster kids and a juvenile detention. The oversight we have is crazy. If anything our facility is opposite, the kids are allowed to abuse the staff and we have little we can do to keep ourselves safe. In my opinion there is a need for some types of facilities even if these kids are in this position because their parents have failed, they still need a place to be. Adults should never be allowed to abuse the kids though. Thank you for sharing your experience.
Ah... but Cindi, your whole website (link in your sig) is a veritable mega advertisement for abusive programs, edcons, transport agencies, etc., not to mention having a banner for former Daytop attendee James Lehman's DIY behav mod package "Total Transformation" ... clickable on every single page.

It seems that the whole concept of thought reform is not so adverse for you, just some of the more obvious, usually older, and possibly financially strapped ones, eh?

Cindi Ford's current sig:
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Cindi F.
http://www.rescueyouth.com
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Offline cindiford79

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2012, 12:43:06 AM »
Quote
concept of thought reform

Anyone who lives in society has undergone "thought reform" in one form or another as society is something created with our minds and pushed on others to accept. There is not natural or real society. Just as their is no agreed upon human reality. If by making your kids mind that is thought reform...pretty silly. What kind of society do you want to create?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cmack

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2012, 01:44:28 AM »
Quote from: "cindiford79"
Quote
concept of thought reform

Anyone who lives in society has undergone "thought reform" in one form or another as society is something created with our minds and pushed on others to accept. There is not natural or real society. Just as their is no agreed upon human reality. If by making your kids mind that is thought reform...pretty silly. What kind of society do you want to create?

I'm not sure what your angle is, but I'll just pretend that you're not a shill for the industry.

You asked about Thought Reform. It has nothing to do with parents disciplining their children. It doesn't even have anything to do with Marine Corps boot camp.

See here: http://www.rickross.com/reference/brain ... hing2.html

The Thought Reform/Coercive Persuasion/Mind Control tactics employed by programs is much more insidious. Listed below are just a few of the elements typically found at programs.

isolation
Deprivation
Restricted/Monitored Communication
A Level System w/ a Series of Rewards and Punishments
Forced Confessions - which are then used against the victim.
Humiliation - strip searches, reading impact letters, etc
Behavior Control which may include such things as Dress, When and What to eat, Control of Bodily Functions like having to seek permission to relieve oneself, forbidding and punishing masturbation, being observed while relieving oneself and bathing.
Control of Information: the victim is kept in the dark about important decisions, and isn't allowed to ask questions about the future which creates psychological stress.
The victim must buy-in to the program and accept that he needs to be there, and accept the program's version of the truth in order to advance and graduate.

These are just a few of the things that I could think of off the top of my head and they are common at all programs I'm familiar with.
You can read more about the process of mind control at the links below.

http://freedomofmind.com/Info/BITE/bitemodel.php
http://www.rickross.com/reference/apolo ... ist23.html
http://www.rickross.com/reference/brain ... ing19.html

You asked in another thread about what does work. Well how about respecting the basic rights of individuals for self-determination. Sure, there are a very few individuals who are active threats to themselves or others who need to be committed briefly until they can be stabilized. But there is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of wilderness programs, TBS's, RTC's, or other behavior modification facilities. The research that does exist shows that local, family therapy is the most effective at reaching teens.

see here: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/m ... /sec7.html
and here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/troubled-teens.aspx
and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maia-szal ... 15023.html
and here: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=38312
and this too: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_ ... tment.html

And if you really care about young people here are some questions you can ask programs before you start promoting them on your website.
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consume ... pro27.shtm
http://www.helpatanycost.com/questions.php

Let's say you ignore all that evidence above about programs not working and you still want to design a program that's not abusive. Well here are my suggestions:

1) No involuntary commitments without due process. No young person 13 years of age or older should be committed to a program against his will until all reasonable local options have been tried and he's been provided a lawyer and had a due process court hearing where all the facts are presented and he has an opportunity to defend himself.

2) No strip searches unless there is probable cause that a particular individual has some dangerous drug or weapon.

3) No monitoring of phone calls or letters. No blanket restrictions on who one may call or write. There might be circumstances when a patient can be restricted from contacting a particular person such as his drug dealer, but there shouldn't be a general prohibition on contacting friends or others.

4) There should be a clear easy process to contact lawyers and outside authorities to report abuse.

5) No level system and no group punishment for the actions of an individual.

6) No withholding of food or other creature comforts as punishment or to compel compliance.

7) No forced confessions

8 ) Protected right to refuse specific treatment modalities such as group therapy or 12 step.

9) The right to wear one's own clothes and to retain possession of personal property including money and ID.

10) No restraint or seclusion.


I'm sure there are other things I've missed, but the above would be a good start.

This guy has some pretty good ideas on the subject: http://cafety.org/index.php?option=com_ ... &Itemid=35
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 07:13:16 PM by cmack »

Offline Ursus

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2012, 01:58:00 AM »
Quote from: "cindiford79"
Quote from: "Ursus"
concept of thought reform
Anyone who lives in society has undergone "thought reform" in one form or another as society is something created with our minds and pushed on others to accept. There is not natural or real society. Just as their is no agreed upon human reality. If by making your kids mind that is thought reform...pretty silly. What kind of society do you want to create?
Mm. If you're saying that U.S. culture is currently pretty dependent on propaganda and manipulation of the media, I would agree with you whole heartedly.

However, I detect a whiff of derision, perhaps even of trivialization when it comes to the use of this term in describing the extremes that some so-called rehabilitative youth programs resort to ... in their efforts at reshaping and remolding the self identity of youth in their care.

Perhaps you believe its use is warranted or justified. Others, especially those who have experienced it firsthand themselves and feel damaged by the long term effects, might disagree.
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Offline cindiford79

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Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2012, 11:14:28 PM »
It is not that I believe any of this is trivial. It is just hard for me to accept having worked in a facility that they are all bad. Yes there were some asshole staff at our facility but their was no abuse going on. We were on camera 24/7 and the only thing that did happen in that facility that was listed above was they had a level system. It changed every day on the child's behavior from the previous day but the child's rights were never removed. It was more a way for staff to rate if the child was able to handle community outings or use the computer room. The doors were not locked in our facility and the kids were free to leave at any time day or night, and sometimes they did. Of course these were primarily foster kids so they really had no place to go but the streets most of the time. I just feel that the abuse kids do to themselves and have done to them by peers when they are living a drug addicted, or homeless life is just as harmful as these torturous places. Getting raped or murdered on the streets, or killing yourself on a heroine overdose is still a tragedy. Teens don't think rationally, at least most don't. They have under developed frontal lobes of the brain. It is adults duty, especially parents to protect their kids from themselves as well as others. The things I read on here make me sick and in no way do I believe that it is ever right to abuse someone. There are Programs like Children of the Night who are out helping kids though and those are the types of places I believe in. I will keep reading and learning. Maybe the way I feel will change, we will see.
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