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Che Gookin:

--- Quote ---Printed in 2003

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Va. State Police Still Puzzled By Young Trail Hiker?s Death
By Karl B. Hille
The Winchester Star


Virginia State Police are still awaiting autopsy results on a Georgia girl who collapsed July 2 on the Appalachian Trail in Clarke County.

Danita Ritchie, 15, of Gwinnett County, Ga., was hiking with a group of young people near the Clarke-Loudoun County line when she became ill, State Police said.

By the time rescue workers could reach the remote section of trail, Ritchie was beyond help, said Trooper Richard McClanahan.

There was no indication of foul play or injury, McClanahan said.

?I?ve talked to the pathologist that did the autopsy,? he said. ?She told me there wasn?t any injuries. She thought it [the cause of death] was going to be medical, but she was waiting for results to come back from the lab to determine the exact cause.?

He said it could take six to eight weeks for a final report from the coroner?s office in Fairfax.

Ritchie collapsed on Buzzard Hill, McClanahan said, which is located on a portion of the trail known to hikers as ?the Roller Coaster? because of its steep climbs and descents.

He said the group of hikers was about two miles north of Morgans Mill Road, near Mount Weather.

Clarke County Sheriff Dale Gardner said last week that Ritchie was the second teen to report health problems while hiking that portion of the trail in recent days.

The week before, a 15-year-old boy became ill while hiking and was helped from the trail, Gardner said.
--- End quote ---

Che Gookin: ... 44&catid=9

Cafety thread on Auldern Academy

kev (

--- Quote from: "Che Gookin" ---

Consolidation articles
--- End quote ---

this function of the forums gives you a perfect example (in the highlighted terms when you query the forums with that string...) of keyword density if you needed a visual interpretation. the highlights show how many times that keyword is seen by google throughout that article. if anyone knew the exact algorithm there would be no competition as everyone would make sites to the formula, and we would lose relevance in the engine as time progressed. my interpretation of SEO is as follows (and is the reason i have the #1 google ranking for the search term "wwasp", psy locked down "sue scheff" in much the same way)...

Listed in order of importance.

1. inbound and outbound links (how many friends does your website have)
2. relevent content and keyword placement within that content.
3. helping search engines understand your content (sitemaps, text navigation, etc)
4. much more to it, but these basics are to help you sculpt content to the needs of the portal.

i can tell you exactly what to produce if thats what this is about. psy will be leading direction of your research. but you will be helping yourselves even more if you work to produce content which i can just ok, instead of running full edits to maintain efficiency for the portal. just trying to be helpful, not dictate your work. if it is better for you to have me handle all the aspects of SEO, let me, just keep producing the compelling works you're all so capable of cranking out and we will zoom past our targets on all major search engines.

Give it another read through, make sure you are happy with the edits.

My Time at Paint Rock Valley Boys

I worked as a counselor at Three Springs of Paint Rock Valley Boys from 2002 to 2004. During that time I participated in abusive acts and witnessed even more. My actions have brought me a great deal of personal pain and remorse. It wasn’t until after I was terminated, for what essentially was the exercising of poor judgment that I came to realize the full extent of what I did and saw. Everything must have a start and my story started with the extremely poor training I received, moved on to the appalling lack of supervision, and is rounded out by the horrible conditions of the facility.

I started working at Three Springs a few weeks before Christmas at the end of 2002. At my time of hire I spent four or so weeks going through the Three Springs 100 hour new employee training. During this time I went to classes all day and spent time with a group at night. The training program was inadequate to say the least. Most of it went over the various levels of the stages system, the medicine wheel, and creed. We received minimal medical training, minimal training in how to deal with violence, minimal training in dealing with people who were upset. All in all we received very little useful training to prepare us for covering the group we were being trained to cover.

Once training was complete, and we passed our tests, which most of us cheated on, we were given our group assignments. My group was the group of Lisicha. This group was the youth group that consisted of boys from the ages 10 to 14 or so. My first introduction to Lisicha involved a restraint in the middle of the dining hall during lunch hour between two of my training classes. Restraints were something that I learned happened quite frequently in Lisicha.

My first restraint with my group occurred at night after a young man attempted to hit my co counselor. Nearly 10 restraints later the group was finally willing to calm down enough to go to bed. At some point it became apparent that the traditional methods of SAMA (Satori Alternatives to Managing Aggression) were pretty useless. The methods taught to me by Three Springs took too long, were too awkward, and normally resulted in the restraints taking longer. At this point I began to use what could be termed as Shock and Awe, which actually works pretty well if your goal is to pound a group into passive submission.

Shock and Awe restraints are when I would slam the kid into the ground as hard as I could to force him to submit in the shortest amount of time. Luckily for the boys no one was seriously physically hurt. The worst injury incurred during a restraint was a broken collar bone. That was more from the location of the restraint that the force, which was fairly minimal but on a rocky trail. My Shock and Awe methods of restraints rarely seemed to raise an eyebrow. I used these techniques of rendering a boy submissive in public on a regular basis in front of other counselors, supervisors, family worker, and unit directors. I think during my time I was written up twice for improper restraint during the performance of roughly 300 restraints and very few of them by the book.

The book also called for the proper filling out of paperwork. However, in my experience, when you have 16 incident reports to fill out you tend to gloss over the details and do your best to justify your actions. I often lied on my progress reports and heard of other counselors doing the same. Once during an incident involving a restraint in where I restrained a boy in Lisicha's cabin for hiding under a bed I wrote up the boy for attempting to run away. Not a single eyebrow was raised about the report or the incident despite the fact it was pretty obvious I was blatantly being dishonest to protect myself. My embellishments on incident reports didn't seem like such a serious problem at the time as my group was experiencing such severe behavioral problems that everyone seemed to think that the number of restraints were justifiable.

The group’s behavior was so up and down that multiple restraints became the norm. During one particularly sickening day I performed twenty-six restraints with no help from my co-workers. One supervisor even called over on the radio and asked me to keep my group quiet as it was disturbing a meeting. At some point I had to beg for someone to come relieve me so I could use the toilet. Restraints became so common in Lisicha that I became sort of trigger happy. If a kid even twitched too hard he ended up in a restraint. I remember restraining a kid for using the f-word once and nothing was even said to me. If my restraints were bad, some of the supervisors and other counselors were worse. I’ll describe this more later on in this statement. I began to suffer physically and mentally from the stress, but it was the boys who suffered the most through the variety of consequences they endured on that day and others like it.

Consequences at Three Springs are designed to bring about compliance of an individual or group. Here is a list of the commonly used ones:

1.) Sitting on a rock all day
2.) Group Ignore: The child was completely ignored by his group and had to cook al his own food and sleep in a tent.
3.) Primitive: This is where the boy was kicked out of his group completely and forced to live in his own campsite, cook his own food, and was not allowed to speak to anyone.
4.) Quiet Time: Not being allowed to talk
5.) Standing Quiet Time: Not being allowed to talk and standing quietly
6.) Personal Fire Drill: The child was given a few fire drills randomly throughout the night for behaviors in the day.
7.) Building Ban: Not being allowed in the buildings
8.) Campsite: The whole group was made to eat and cook on their campsite, get up earlier, and not allowed to talk on campus.
9.) Manure Therapy: Shoveling horse manure at the horse barn all day
10.) Personal Gott: Being forced to carry a 5 gallon jug of water
11.) Work Projects: This could vary from chopping wood to cleaning their campsites

One of the stranger consequences I witnessed, involved a young man who was made to carry his own gott of water everywhere, and was made to walk 100 poles a day until he began to comply with the program. Walking poles was where the child walked the distance from 1 telephone pole to the next and then back, to count as 1 lap.

Another consequence that struck me as odd involved a blunder on my own part. I was caught making three of my own group members carry cinder blocks around the bleachers by the baseball field. One of the higher ups from the Huntsville office witnessed it and complained that I wasn’t making sure the consequence had some meaning attached to it. She later told me that I should have gotten the boys to move the whole pile of cinder blocks so they could clean out underneath them. According to her, this would have given the consequence some sort of legitimacy. Personally, in retrospect, I think both her and my consequence were nonsense.

More nonsense that went on regularly at Three Springs was Treatment Team. Each week the counselors (no formal psychological training), the family worker (no formal psychological training, and the supervisor (no formal psychological training) would all get together and assess the progress of the members of their group. Most of these treatments did not involve the facility psychologist. Of course, this was the same psychologist the kids saw a mere 20 minutes or less every month. During this meeting, interventions were created to help move the boys through the program.

One of the worst aspects of Treatment Teams was the evaluation of topics that the boys did every week. These topics done in Nightly were examined and discussed. I frequently witnessed the boys being told that they weren’t being honest enough about why they are in the program. Often, I believe anyway, the boys resorted to gross exaggeration to bluff their way past Treatment Team to satisfy the mania for introspection.

Another problem I witnessed was the living conditions. Three Springs houses the boys in campsites that have three to five buildings. These buildings include the cook shed, woodshed, nightly site, cabin, and trunk room. More often than not counselors allowed their groups to leave their campsites in a disgusting state. I often found myself sleeping in a cabin that smelled so vile that it was not uncommon for me to sleep with my head out the door. I regularly found rat feces on plates, clothing, in trunks, under beds, and on shelves. Shower houses tended to have green slime and mold on the walls; another frequent complaint was mice and rats in the pantry in the kitchen.

The kitchen presented another item of concern during my stay at Three Springs. The food cooked and served by the kitchen staff with the assistance of the boys was often disgusting and unappetizing. Many of the boys in my group complained of weight loss due to not being able to eat. I’m not a finicky eater so loosing weight wasn’t an issue for me. However, several residents who had medications that increased or suppressed their appetites, tended to suffer from the lack of quality food. Weekend meals often served were sandwiches with white bread, baloney, and potato chips as a ‘nutritious’ meal.

Poor food led to one of the most violent incidents I witnessed at Three Springs. I was sitting at my table talking to the kids in my group when a resident grew angry about something and started lashing out at others. Three counselors restrained him, very painfully, on the floor in the corner. I later asked him what got him angry and he said that he was just sick and tired of eating crappy food and being hungry all the time. This wasn’t the only incident of violence that occurred at Three Springs.

Here is a list of incidents that occurred during my time at Three Springs:

1.) A counselor at the County Choices program restrained a kid with such force he cracked the wooden cabin floor.
2.) A counselor drove his shoulder into the stomach of a kid who was being carried down a hill by two others and performed what he termed a ‘T-bone Maneuver’.
3.) A unit director picked a boy up by his feet and banged his head on the ground.
4.) Another unit director picked a kid up and swung him around like a rag doll and then apparently threw the kid.
5.) I jumped over a table and restrained a kid with such force I ended up with a knot on my head and bruised knee.
6.) Another counselor regularly used to tell others that the best thing to do on your first day in group was to, “boom a kid” to get them to behave.
7.) A female unit director bragged of suplexing a kid.
8.) A supervisor restrained a boy on the concrete and deliberately ground the boy’s elbows and knees into the concrete to inflict pain on him.
9.) Another supervisor performed a running tackle on a boy for cursing at another staffer.
10.) I restrained a boy in the gravel with such force it left his imprint in the ground.
11.) I personally witnessed a staffer use a choke hold on a boy.
12.) Another staffer bragged that he found banging a kid’s head on the concrete a good way to settle them down.

There is so much more I could add, but the sheer number of incidents makes it hard to sort threw them all. At night, I sometimes have nightmares about what went on at Three Springs. Guilt was what led me to examine myself and my actions. It was remorse that made me want to do some sort of penance for what I did, and for what I didn’t do. My biggest regret to this day isn’t what I did, but the fact that I remained silent while working at Three Springs.

It wasn’t until I was terminated for handing out a consequence that resulted in a young man sustaining a minor abrasion to his nose that I was forced to see the bigger picture.
My termination forced me out of a world where abuse on a weekly to daily basis seemed routine, and part of the job. It forced me into the real world where such things are not tolerated. It wasn't to long before I began to feel a huge sense of guilt over all that had transpired. I don't hate Three Springs for terminating me. Quite the opposite, as I'm more than willing to thank them for forcing me out of such a soul destroying operation. Many people have claimed Three Springs saved their life with the time they spent there. I claim Three Springs saved my life by forcing me to leave. This action helped me to move onto a healthier place.

It took me awhile to readjust to not waking up every hour, not living with the constant hyper-awareness of living with 10 young boys, not suffering panic attacks, not throwing up from those panic attacks, not suffering constant knee and back pain, and finally not being in a place where hurting people appears to be part of the job as long as it is in the name of treatment. I offer no excuses or explanations as to why I didn't report what I witnessed other than to say it never once occurred to me to do so during my twenty-two months of employment, nor was it ever overly encouraged of us to act in our mandated reporter roles as we all should have been doing. This, at times, has added to my guilt factor, but my sense of remorse and guilt for what I have done and not done has more or less been exorcised after making contact with some of the boys I worked with. To date all that have been contacted have accepted my apologies and we have maintained a friendly relationship.

It makes me happy to know that despite Three Springs, and the hell they endured, those wonderful young men have grown up to be better a better sort of man than I ever have or will be.

I edited this one as well....hope he/she doesn't mind...again, read through, let me know if you are not happy with it.


Please keep me Anonymous.

Everything in my statement is true. I give HEAL permission to use my statement. The following is a true statement of my experience at Three Springs as an EX-Counselor for their Georgia Girls program. The programs in Georgia, both for girls and boys, have been shut down by Three Springs due to withdrawal of state funding for the programs in 2006. Other Three Springs programs remain open and are equally as abusive and dangerous as the ones in Georgia. The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) funded the Georgia programs. Other Three Springs programs are privately owned and operated.

All the children who attended the Georgia programs were legally in the custody of the state for a period of 2 years. Three Springs had two separate programs, Short Term and Long Term. The Short Term program was dubbed the “emergency shelter”. This program usually lasted between 1 and 90 days and usually had residents who were awaiting placement in a Long Term program either at Three Springs or elsewhere in the state. A small percentage of the residents who attended the Short Term program were actually sentenced for a period of 60-90 days in confinement.

We were used to alleviate the overcrowding in Youth Detention Centers (YDC). The Long Term program was usually 6 months to 2 years, with the average stay being 1.5 years. The Long Term program had different expectations of residents than the Short Term program but similar goals for rehabilitation. Average group size of the Short Term program was 10-15 residents; the Long Term program was 8-12 residents. The typical number of counselors on duty in the Short Term program was 2 at a time with occasional days of 1 counselor on duty at a time. The Long Term program found counselors alone with the residents most of the time with occasional days of 2 counselors at a time. Most of the girls were in the programs due to truancy from school, stealing, drug, and alcohol use. The age range was 11-18 yrs old.

I worked for Three Springs from May of 2004 to September 2004. Initially I was taken in by their website. It was appealing and looked to be a good program. I agreed to relocate and work for them after college graduation. I did not know it would be emotionally and psychologically as well as physically damaging.

I worked for the Georgia Girls in their Short Term program. Training lasted 1-2 weeks (I really don’t remember much as I’ve blocked most of it out.) During training, we were taught how to de-escalate a situation and restrain residents. As counselors, we were required to stay overnight on campus during the length of our shifts. Our shifts usually lasted from 2-4 days with some exceptions being 5 days or more. The days began at 5:45 a.m. and ended whenever the residents would decide to quiet down and go to sleep, usually anywhere from 10:30 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. on some nights. Average amount of sleep obtained on any given shift after paperwork was done every night was approximately 2-3 hours. Counselors were not allowed breaks during the day and had to be with their group of residents at all times. Calls for supervisors to relieve counselors for short bathroom/sanity breaks often went unheeded.

The everyday schedule included meals, school, therapy, vocational, and recreational time. The meals consisted of pre-packaged easy to prepare things like hamburger helper, tuna helper, or other simple foods. Usually calories were high to meet the state standards, but the quality of the food was poor with very little fresh vegetables and fruit to supplement the diets of the residents. Counselors were expected to cook for the residents. Occasionally residents earned the right to cook for the group, but that was rare.

Qualified teachers did school on campus. It was mostly an independent study and the residents were expected to complete material on their own. The supervisors or counselors, most of whom did not have psychology degrees, usually oversaw therapy. Actual face time with a qualified psychiatrist averaged 30 minutes per month and it was usually an adjustment of the medications residents were placed on.

Therapy at Three Springs usually consisted of watching a couple movies (28 days and some Lifetime movie on rape) and discussing the movies. Vocational time was where a majority of the focus was spent. “Voc time” as it was called by many of the counselors usually consisted of manual labor done by the residents and counselors.

Mowing lawns, picking up trash, cleaning the cabins, weeding, and raking were just a few of the activities performed by residents. Counselors typically supervised and assisted occasionally. Recreational time was usually limited to 30 minutes to an hour and was a sport such as basketball or kickball, although most of the time our time was limited. Most of the time, the recreational activity was an exercise tape that played while the counselor supervised and made a meal, usually lunch or dinner.

Some of the common interventions included:

Run Risk: A consequence and intervention implemented when a resident decided to make a break for it and run. This usually involved wearing an orange reflective construction vest and remaining within 10 feet of staff at all times. On rare occasions, or when there were no more vests available, the resident would be required to wear an orange prison jumpsuit. Due to the nature of the jumpsuit, the resident was denied pants or shorts during the period of time they dressed in the jumpsuit. The jumpsuit was usually only worn by the highest risk offender (any resident who had been on run risk and had decided to take off a second time). Usually if they were placed in the jumpsuit, they would also have to be on “Contact Buddy.”

Contact Buddy: A popular intervention that included the resident wearing the orange jumpsuit. The resident would be denied their privilege of free movement. They, or a piece of their clothing that was attached to their bodies, had to be held by staff at all times. This was usually implemented with staff holding the tee-shirt the resident wore at all times.

Suicide Precaution: A safety measure taken for when residents are threatening to harm themselves or others. Bathroom protocol included making them strip to their underwear, making them keep one hand visible to staff at all times, and the resident having to sing or keep talking to ensure the resident wasn’t doing something that would harm themselves. This procedure was done in front of another resident for safety of the counselor on duty. The resident on suicide precaution would also have to run their fingers under their undergarments in order to ensure nothing had been hidden there. During showers, the residents on suicide precaution had to shower with a counselor watching. The shower curtain covered them, but the middle loops had been taken down so the counselor could observe their face and neck while in the shower. The counselor also had to hand the resident their soap and shampoo.

Many of the residents admitted to the Three Springs program were violent and aggressive towards counselors and each other. I left Three Springs shifts with bruises on my arms from attempting to restrain a resident due to violent outbursts. The residents had threatened me. There were days where I had to continually watch my back.

The administration of the facility was equally as unresponsive. The administration refused to look out for the safety and health of ANY of the counselors employed at the facility. Most of the feedback given to counselors was in the form of negative criticism with the threat of termination. The administration also failed to look at possible alternatives for poor program performance. When I went to them with concerns and solutions, I was shot down with “We can’t do that because” or “That’s not a good idea because”.

A fellow counselor for the Long Term program had been beaten up by one of the residents. The resident kicked, punched, hit, and bit her. The resident also used a broomstick or metal pole to strike the counselor. The counselor had to be removed by other counselors and she promptly fell into unconsciousness. The administration refused to let her go to the hospital and she had to continue working her entire shift.

Prior to my employment, there had been a riot at the school on campus. It resulted in a cabin getting shut down and residents shuffling to other cabins as well as leaving the facility. It ended up overburdening counselors and overcrowding cabin rooms.

There were other things that occurred too. A counselor locked herself in the bathroom because she didn’t want to be with the residents. She was scared to be with them. She was having panic attacks due to the stress of the job and being around the children. Additionally, two counselors walked out mid-shift. Both counselors walked out while I worked at the facility.

I once sat for 26 hours with 2 kids refusing to do anything with no instructions on how to deal with them and approximately 4 – 5 minute bathroom breaks. I did receive a break when night staff came in to watch the residents overnight, but the next morning, I was right back in the same room.

After being employed for one month, I began having panic attacks. They progressively worsened and I ended up crying for 6-8 hours at a time. I could not bring myself to stop crying at times. When I would get it under control, I would be good for about 1 or 2 hours then go back to crying. I couldn’t mentally function or physically bring myself to function. I was so tired and exhausted mentally and physically that eventually I just shut myself off from everything and everyone. I became a zombie. The stress finally got to me and I quit September 10th 2004 and it’s a decision I DO NOT regret. I am ashamed that I worked for a place such as Three Springs and allowed my safety and common sense to be overruled for so long.


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