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Messages - zer0sleep

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Vision Quest / Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« 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 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.

Vision Quest / Re: My VQ boot camp experience
« 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.

Vision Quest / 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.

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