Author Topic: my experience with a brat camp  (Read 8570 times)

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Offline Anonymous

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my experience with a brat camp
« on: April 21, 2007, 10:45:20 PM »
I have just come across this site. I am a foreign national who worked in a
“Brat Camp” for 7 weeks before quitting back in 99. I assumed it was the one
bad place. Thought I would share my story.

I worked in a summer camp in Vermont for just normal kids when I went
travelling as a young guy. Im 30 now, was about 22 then. Except for not
being able to drink for 3 months it was great. I loved those little guys. So
I was bumming around America when I met someone who told me he was going to
work in a place out west for troubled teenagers. I thought this would be
rewarding and was told that the point was to boost their confidence by
getting them to push themselves and challenge themselves. At the time I
coached a soccer team for kids who were about 14 and I still think that sport
is a good thing for a young guy so thought this would be good. I was going for a
commerce degree and wanted to take time out for a bit but was told i didn't
need to be a teacher or social worker even though these were not average

I thought I would be helping kids but I basically spent 2 months making
them miserable.

Most of the kids were not as bad as i thought they would be and had just
done the kind of stuff that I did when I was a kid and my parents weren't
looking. Some were pretty snotty little shits but aside from that they were
not in deep trouble. I figured this would be easier than I imagined cause
the kids were not too bad. There were a few who were in a bad way and
probably should have gone to a place with really highly qualified staff to
work with kids who are not all there.

Turns out I mostly hated it. I know kids need discipline and I went to
A fairly strict boys school. But the way they treated these kids was pretty over
the top and harsh when you consider they were just kids and some of them
were girls. When i did the training to work there they showed us how to
restrain a kid who was out of control. I figured it was like learning CPR
and no one would never use it.

A few days in 2 guys got in a scuffle. I pulled them apart and kind of
yelled at them to calm down. I let one kid go as soon as I pulled him off his
friend as he was standing behind me so i coulld pull him back if he decided to
go at it again. When i turned back to the other kid this guy i worked with
had the kid on the floor with his arm behind his back. It was just over the
top. He was a big guy and this was a skinny little 14 year old kid. He
eventually let the kid up and i told the kid to just go have a drink of
water and sit down by himself because the poor little guy was
trying really hard not to cry in front of us. I told my coworker he was a
bit harsh and i remember him saying that you've got to be pretty tough
with them at first to stop this sort of thing from escalating. I figured he
was the expert so shut my mouth.

Lots of stuff happened that I didn't see the point of and that was way too harsh.
The hiking was pretty challenging and the kids were not all that fit. If I
ran it I would separate the fitter kids and have the other kids do an
easier course so that they could improve their skills and fitness. This way
they would at least be achieving something.
little girl was a bit on the heavy side and fell over a few times on tehe
first day. They let some of the other girls "challenge" her about basically
letting the side down. She was prety upset and cried. I thought it was out
of line and it set the tone for a pretty negative time for this girl. She
never really got the hang of hiking and was scared of the dark. The female
staff pretty much let the other kids, mainly the girls give her a hard time.
They kept saying giving her feed back helped. I thought and still do think
this was BS. The grown ups are supposed to be the onse to bring the other
girls into line some and make them be civil. This girl was going to go to
some other boarding school designed for kids wiith low self esteem. I
remember telling her to just stick it out and then boarding school will be
much better. It looks like the boarding school might have been as bad.
This kid's parents sent her because she was depressed but she had not
misbehaved. If anything she was really quiet and shy. Again I know I don't
have a degree in this area but this girl probably needed something girls
only where all the staff built her up and made her feel good about the
things she could do. The one thing this place did was help this girl loose

A lot of the stuff they had the kids do did not really help them learn to be
team players. If anything they were likely to make the kids turn on each
other. One example is the kids had to be all ready within a few minutes in
the morning ( I can't remember how long but not much time) One kid apparently
had add or some thing and was not a morning person. He was really
disorganised and becuase of him the kids were never ready on time. If they
werent all packed up and dressed ready to go I would have to make them do
the whole thing over. All of this cut into the amount of time they could
have to eat breakfast and was a penalty. If you think it seems petty so did
I but I did enforce it. So that this kid would not constantly start the day
on a negative note which rubbed off on everyone I had the 2 kids on either
side of him help him get his stuff ready and organised the night before. I
also got him up a bit before the other kids. My supervisor told me I could
not do this as it went against the program. This seemed ridiculous. How are
the kids meant to be a team if they are pissed at each other form the first
thing in the morning? What is wrong with having kids help their friends out

In my opinion the kids didnt get enough food and none of it was very good.
Admittedly I am a farm boy and Italian so I've never turned down a good meal,
but even with this in mind these kids just didnt get enough. They got
oatmeal for breakfast with raisins and powdered milk. They never got anywhere
near enough lunch. Just a handful of dry grainola or pita bread with
cheese and some fruit. After an exercise filled morning this is just not
enough. The boys especially were always hungry. Sometimes if they acted up
in the morning they would not get their lunch. I just dont think this was
healthy. I asked my boss why we couldnt take away something else they enjoy
like some of the freetime activity instead and was basically told to shut up.
. Sometimes if it was just me and the kids i would overrule my fellow
staffers and let them eat it but mostly if they were told they couldn't have
lunch they woudnt get it.

Dinner was hardly worth the wait either. Most days they got lentils and
rice. On one day they got mexican wraps and on another pasta with cheese.
They needed meat and actaul vegitables but didn't get enough. Sometimes we were
supposed to ban them from putting spices and herbs on their food if they had
not behaved themselves.

The other thing was quick time limits on how long they had to eat. To me the
whole point of a meal is to make it a social thing. Especially if the kid
does not have good social skills. At the summer camp the whole point of
meals was to make the kids sit still for a bit and tell you about their day
etc. We were also supposed to make every kid finish eating all of what they
had cooked. At first this seemed like a good rule because they needed their
dinner. But some kids who made it too spicy or whatever just could not stomach
what they had made and threw up. Some kids would also throw up because they
had to wolf it down quickly. I know this sounds exaggerated but it really
did happen.

One guy that I worked with ( the one who pushed the kids arm behind his back
on the ground) punished 2 kids because one was not hungry anymore so he gave
his leftovers to a kid who was finished but still hungry. The kid who was
still hungry had not gotten his lunch in 2 days because of these BS food

Initially I had looked up to this guy in charge as he had been working with
kids for a while but by now i was beginning to think he was seriously
unbalanced and that he may have actually liked just making it hard for
these kids.

We weren't allowed to raise our voices at the kids but there were no rules
about swearing. This guy would swear at the kids and then punish them if
they lashed out. He was really fond of doing it with the young guys who had
a temper on them. The girls would usually just cry and he would tell em they
were being manipulators but the boys did worse because if they showed any
attitude back he would "restrain them" with the whole pushing em to the
floor thing and say they were a physical threat. I know that as a soccer
coach I have sworn at a group of young guys from time to time but doing it
to just 1 kid and deliberately pushing their buttons is I think way out of
line. I'm a bit old fashioned here but I dont think there is ever a cause to
swear at girls.
Another thing I read about is kids not getting proper medical attention.
 This happened way too much. The first assumption was that
kids were faking. If you have ever worked with kids you would probably know
that they do try it every once in a while but this place would always
assume the worse. One kid was not all there and would wet his pants a lot.
This to me is beyond normal for a kid his age and he really did not
belong there. I reported it to the camp director who said kids will do
anything to get out of there. They did not let this kid go home but I really
think he should have been. Every once in a while I wonder about this kid and
what happened to him. Another kid fainted 2 days in a row before they took
him into the town for medical attention. On the first day they actually had
the other kids poke him with sticks as a "joke" to teach him a lesson about
faking and fooling around. The poor kid was as white as a sheet and on the second day
he fainted
not eat anything. i nearly came to blows with my supervisor because I just
thought he was totally unprofessional about it. When the kid fainted on a
second day and had huge rings under his eyes and was shivering like a
ghost it crossed my mind that if they did not get him to a real doctor he
could die. I know this sounds a bit dramatic but he looked that sick. He did
go to a Doctor but did not resume the trail. After this incident I quit
because in part it crossed my mind that a kid might die or be seriously
injured under my watch.

The other thing i dont know about in this place was the therapy. Sometimes
 they would
make kids tell the others stuff they didn’t want to. One girl was made to talk
about the sexual abuse she suffered even thought it was really upsetting for
her. Some times the boys would use therapy to brag about girls they had been
with. It was obvious they were talking crap but who doesn't at this age? One
female staff would point out the obvious lies and totally humiliate them.
Given that if they didn't say something they might have to stay longer I
Didn’t see any way for these kids to win. One boy was also made to talk about
his dad's death in front of all the other kids and he was really distressed.
This pushed the kids pretty far and I don’t know if they were helped by it
but i am not an expert here so i could be wrong. The guy who was trained
in counselling seemed to think it was necessary.

Although that one guy I worked with was a psycho most really of us did want to
help kids and were not as bad as him but everyone seemed to think these rules
and this was of doing things was the best way to do it. I disagree.
 It is ironic
because my main concern when I signed on was whether it was a good idea to
reward badly behaved kids with a holiday where they got to do cool stuff
while their friends had to go to school.
 I hope there are better places to send kids so that they come
out feeling good about themselves because all this did was make life hard
for them. If the kids did behave better after this place it was only so they would
not be sent
somewhere like this again.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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my experience with a brat camp
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2007, 09:59:26 AM »
what was the name of the prison?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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my experience with a brat camp
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2007, 06:05:18 PM »
sagewalk. Alot of kids went on to a boarding school in California. I don't remember what it was called but I assumed they would have a better time there
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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my experience with a brat camp
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2007, 06:20:36 PM »
was the boarding school cedu?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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my experience with a brat camp
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2007, 06:21:29 PM »
was it called cedu?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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my experience with a brat camp
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2007, 11:13:27 PM »
Im sorry I can't remember. I know 2 were going to a school in California, one of the girls was going to a girl's only place in Utah and another kid had parents still thinking about if they wanted their kid to just go home. The kid who's parents were still thinking about it had an older sister who had gone to some school in Italy or france i think. At the time I thought that the schools these kids were going on to were probably a lot more like a standard boarding school but with smaller classes and a few shrinks that the more troubled kids could get help from.
Im sorry i can't remember much. It was not exactly the most fun part of that working holiday and I had not really thought about it in a long time.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »