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Topics - zer0sleep

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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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