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Messages - vagrant

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Facility Question and Answers / Re: Mountain Homes and Beyond...
« on: March 05, 2012, 10:47:11 AM »
Thanks for the tip on the book actually man I'll have to check it out.

What brought this back for me was a couple week ago i stumbled onto one of my journals from the program and read through a few entries... Most was just me filling pages with what I had done that day (A journal entry was required each day) Then i stumbled onto an entry that i wrote after my Therapist had failed me and it immediately took me back to being there.

last week I google'd the place and read this ... chive.html

That kind of lead to "Man was it really that bad?" and I started to try to remember....

I think it was a real kick to the stomach when I read that HEAL suspected the place of being abusive, and watching the short film "Aaron Bacon" and relating to alot of that shit..... Thats when I put it together that "Man I think something was wrong with that place"

My Parents and I... well.... It's complicated. I knew they'd spent alot of money, time, stress, and more money to put me through the program. I didn't want them to feel like they'd wasted it all... So i kept alot of shit from them... I wanted them to feel like it was worth it... And I think the other thing the program banks on is, If you take someone away from people they love for an extended period of time, when you finally give them those people back your going to get a very enthusiastic short term response... I told them it had worked wonders, as not to disappoint them,  A month later the fights had resumed but to alot lesser of an extremity. Our relationship really got better last June shortly after I turned 20 and I learned to accept myself, and other people for who they are.

Yes I still have course materials... Some packets and journals somewhere in the basement along with my backpack, bowdrill set, and some other stuff. I think I may be due for a bonfire pretty soon....

Interactions between students were mixed...There were never really any feuds between students, none of that "Man I'm gonna fuck this kid up"  Looking back actually student interaction was probably one of the factors in us staying sane, the fact that someone else was going through the same shit you were (well more or less) was comforting, and you felt like you had something in common with these kids. We weren't allowed to talk to each other outside of earshot, we weren't allowed to touch each other at all, We weren't allowed to really tell each other much about our history. Really it was just the students trying to get through as quickly as possible and help others do the same, and the ones who didn't give a fuck.. I tried to always help other kids get their tasks for their week done, and try to counter the constant self criticism of MHYR by constantly encouraging them...

I heard three kids ran from here, broke into a home, and stole a firearm...... That tells you a bit about the level of mental and emotional desperation these kids are put through in the program..

When I first got to the program, the only thing I kept thinking was, "If I jump into that fire, you think I'd burn alive before one of the staff tried to pull me out?"

It really really puts you in a dark place man.... A dark fucking place......

Facility Question and Answers / Re: Mountain Homes and Beyond...
« on: March 03, 2012, 01:06:13 AM »
I was a pretty rebellious teen.... I would ditch school frequently, While I wouldn't call myself addicted I used drugs a little more than casualy (Pot, Cocaine and Alcohol), The real issue was my homelife. My folks and I could not get along, I was the oldest kid by 8 years and naturally my folks tried a variety of different parenting techiques in an effort to see what worked and what didn't... They couldn't get along with each other to save their lives and I couldn't get along with them... Screaming matches would ensue on an almost daily basis at one point.... It was an emotional nightmare for a 16 year old and for my folks I'm sure.

It was around 4 in the morning... I awoke to my dad and 2 men I'd never seen before.. My dad told me I needed to go with them and that they were going to take me some place I could get some help... I was disoriented and kind of not with it, as I was still waking up.. I saw handcuffs on each of their hips and knew I didn't have a chance to make a break for it... I got dressed we walked down the stairs my Mom told me she loved me, I was confused, angry, scared, and felt betrayed and with all of these emotions running through my mind at once I couldn't muster a reply to her. We got in the car, I sat in the back next to the bigger of the two escourts, doors locked, we drove into Chicago (I'm about 40 min out) they offered to stop at McDonalds for me but I was the furthest thing from hungry... We got on a plane to some other airport then flew from that one to Salt Lake City. Once there we got into another car and drove to Vernal UT (Never in my life have I ever seen a stranger town, and I play in a touring band...) They fed me, we went into the office, the doctor gave me a physical, had me give him a urine sample, and without warning jabbed my finger with some needle thing for some sort of reading... They then drove me from the office to Colorado where I was greeted by maintenence staff and taken into the mountains...

Get into the mountains, change out of my clothes, into the MHYR student uniform. (Yellow shirt/sweater, camo pants) Was given my mountain supplies and given a student mentor (you get one on your first week to kind of tell you how the program works)

19 Weeks later I left. You're supposed to pass 12 or 15 weeks to graduate from the program (Many students don't and stay there until the parents run out of money) I passed 15 weeks, I also acheived my GED there..

Yeah I'd say some things stick out... Watching a kid fail every week because he didn't want to eat the food, couldn't physically complete the hikes, and was really just miserable, the other students in the group would constantly get upset with him because he would slow the group down, The week before he left I awoke to him wimpering in his sleeping bag, lips chapped, he had defacated himself, Looking back on it now I realize just how wrong that was....They did call him a faker.....After reading Aarons tragic story.... There was a pretty legitimate similarity between the two.. (But he was pretty damn far from a skeleton) His parents pulled him later that day... I'd like to think the mountain called them and told them of his deteriorating physical state and advised they come get him.... But I doubt it... They told us that more than likely Matt was being transfered to a more punitive program..... My god that is so fucked.... And the students nodded and we were never allowed to speak of him again.... JESUS CHRIST HOW DID I NOT REALIZE HOW BAD THAT WAS AT THE TIME!?

I've never seen paler faces then when a counselor came back into camp with a student who was on Solo.... A Mountain Lion had apparently passed by the students solo camp site... The student was sent right back out on solo that night... Why?... Why the hell does that make any sense at all? An extremely dangerous animal passes by this kids site and you send him back out there to spend 3 days alone....

The impact letters.... Your parents wrote you a letter about how much you've hurt them, all the pain you've caused your family, and why they sent you.... The students then were to read this aloud during group in the evening... Staff would read the letters before group to make sure you didn't leave anything out when you read it. There's recognizing that your actions have had negative effects on people, and taking accountability.... And then theres self degredation and humiliation... I guess it's a matter of opinion but I think MHYR's "Impact letters" were leaning towards the latter...

Come clean letter: Self explanatory... They even had a formula you would plug in to confess how many times you've used profanity in your life.... We read these aloud infront everyone as well... Again... Very humiliating... I believe the emphasis on these letters is also self degredation... You write all of these things down, to the last ludicrous detail and you think "My god I am such a fucking piece of shit", I should be dead,which then turns to "I'm so lucky I came to this program"" Really manipulating shit man.... I think thats what bothers me the most now.... Is all the subtle ways of manipulation

Runaways came in waves.... Typically if you had a bunch of new kids there at once and a problem student or two, you could expect a runaway. Staff DID NOT restrain students who ran, they followed them until they wished to come back, (realized there was nowhere to go)....I actually thought this was prett metaphorical and cool.... But now I can't help but think it was yet another way of manipulation.. A student told me when he ran he somehow got closer to the road and staff then threatened to "restrain" him if he proceeded...  I never ran..

I failed 4 weeks... One a staff member handed me my laundry past the fire circle (where you need to have gloves on) I grabbed it and he failed my week...

The other week I failed was during my "2 in one" where you get ONE oppurtunity to do two weeks in one week  to make up for failing a week. (Again you only get this oppurtunity once) A female staff, who was on for 2 shifts and we never saw her again after that had told me to speak up when helping another student with her book report, "I've been speaking up I thought you could hear me... Ugh.. Gettin Pissed" She had thought I said "Fucking Bitch" Now guys.... 3 years later... I swear on my sons life I never called her a fucking bitch. My words were "Getting pissed"  which was ok to say.. I had absolutely no track record of disrespecting staff or using profanity whatsoever in the 10 weeks I'd been there to that point. I begged and pleaded with her to see I hadn't called her that. To no avail. The head staff sympathized for me and asked my "Therapist" if we could pass one of my weeks for the "two in one" instead of failing both of them (This had been done before for students)..... Now because I still claimed I had not said that, He refused, stating I was refusing to take accountability.

The third one, my parents and I had bickered back and forth a bit on a phone call, no name calling or cussing or anything just not agreeing on the rules for me when I come home, my Mother told me she was going to put my little brother and Sister on the phone to say hi but Now she wasn't going to because of the conversation we had.... I replied with "Oh great cause you know I don't want to talk to my little  sister or anything" In obvious sarcasm. My therapist then suddenly got upset and hung up the phone call and told me that I had failed my week because of the phone call.

Now each of these were a little suspicious, but when put together... I honestly believe, because of the amount of money my folks had, and the rate i was progressing through the program, they wanted to keep me longer.... Longer stay = more $ and my folks had more money than alot of the other kids... You can put two and two together...   I really hope I don't sound like some bitter child about this.... I'm not. I would absolutely love to believe that when I failed my weeks, it was to help me progress as a person and about personal accountability... But It wasn't.. It was about money.. and the inconsistency in treatment of students proves that to me..

Food was Oats, Germade, Rice, Lentiles, Spam, and ...ashcakes.... I actually puked the first time I tried to eat rice and lentiles, the first month I would go to bed feeling hungry at times..If you moved up to the ranch phase you got to cook on a kerosene stove with eggs, noodles, sauce and some other not "shit" tasting food..  We had to drink a quart of water with each meal and half a quart in between.... When you first got there, every 10 minutes youd have to pee....  

Speaking of peeing...

I don't give a damn what anyone says.... There is something disturbing to me and degrading... About having to piss and shit in a hole in the dirt filled with other peoples piss and shit while you call out your number every 5 to 10 seconds.... The mental image of me yelling out "4" while flies swarm around me and I try to block out the stench of everyone elses waste and not fall in...

Thats not therapeutic... It's fucking wrong....

But again.. Thats my opinion, not the legal systems.

Before I go there are a few things I want to clarify.

The escorts were in no why violent, degrading, or cruel. They were nice guys, offered to feed me a bunch, we listened to Howard Stern in the car, cracked jokes, and they wished me well. The traumatic experience of being yanked from your bed, forced to travel across the country, and allowed no contact with anyone you know the whole way.... That was the cruel part...

MHYR did not help me... But I benifited from my stay there.....I survived the most mentally and emotionally grueling experience I've ever been through... I learned to better myself in spite of the actions of others, I learned how to survive in the wilderness, I learned how to motivate emotionally distraught kids, and I learned about one of the most impressive scams I've ever seen.... MHYR didn't help me.... I helped me..Some really awesome individuals that worked there helped me..... MHYR just cashed the check...

Field Staff is a mixed bag... Some genuinely care and want to help, Others are there for a pay check, a few are in between. I still keep in contact with past staff members there who I DO consider my friends.... Please do not make the false assumption that anyone who works at this place is a bad person...

I do not seek any sort of compensation from MHYR or to press charges on them...  I can't even begin to handle that whole ordeal... Theres so many "what ifs" and "Yeah but technnicallys" and.... It just feels wrong to me to do that.

This isn't a cry for attention man... I just started dealing with this and really just need to write about it so thank you to anyone who read this, thank you to this site and thread, apologies to anyone I may have offended.

That's all I'm gonna write for now feel free to ask more questions, I'll write more later.. Theres so much more about the maniulative genius that is MHYR I plan to eventually write a book on what I went through and my thoughts on it.

General information: Mountain Home Youth Ranch
Name John
Address for check-in facility. Vernal UT, I forget the exact number... Google it.
Year established I believe early nineties?
Number of detainees in each group.  5 to 15
Gender, coed or unisex  Coed
Program duration 3 to 6 months... Longer stays aren't too uncommon though.... I stayed 19 weeks
Owner: Marty Bingham
Program structure: ..Wilderness Therapy?
Admission: Were you escorted, tricked or volutary into the program Escorted
Did they have a level system? What were the requirements to graduate to the next levels? Yes,  to graduate you had to pass 15 weeks
Living conditions: Real backpack or homemade back-breaking contraption. Real back breaking backpack... God hiking in those sucked!
Sleeping: tent or bivouac. Tent
Food: Rice, Lentiles, Oats, Germade, Spam, Water, and Ashcakes.... (It's pretty much exactly what you think it is)

Communication: Where letter censored or evenlopes opened before you were allowed to read them. :Envelopes opened. Letters not censored to my knowledge

 The errorlist or impact letter. At what point were this given to you: Impact letter, given to me week 2.. We were required to read them to the entire group of students and staff. Staff would read the impact letters beforehand to make sure we weren't leaving anything out... Not a single kid who read that damned thing didn't shed tears....

Education: What kind of workbook did they offer? A packet each week... Of the most vague, irrelevant, generic questions you can imagine...

Staff: Qualification and training The head staff would usually know halfway what they were doing... the support staff ranged from interns, outdoors lovers, power hungry young adults, and former students

Punishments or consequnces: Your week would be failed and you'd be forced to stay another, run watch, suicide watch, (In which they take Laces, belt, your forced to sleep under a tarp in the tent next to a staff member.. Ok that sounds a little weird.. It was so that if you went to get up and run they would hear the tarp move. If you run and make it too or they deem you to be physically threatening they will PCS (Positive Control System) you.... Which is just a nice way of saying use physical "restraint" on students... Though this was rare... I had to dig a huge hole once to "make up" points I'd lost.... There's other stuff I'm not thinking of as I had mentally blocked this out for the past 3 years

In the news
Links to news about the program
External Links
Info pages and homepage of the program
Groups on the internet: Myspace, Msn, Yahoo, Google
Links to treads in forum

I'm just now trying to sort out how I feel about this place..... It's starting to seriously take a toll mentally...

Facility Question and Answers / Re: Mountain Homes and Beyond...
« on: March 02, 2012, 01:53:04 PM »
I uh.... I was placed here from feb 2008 to july 2008. I stayed 19 weeks I think and was considered one of MHYR's most "successful" students...

I kind of blocked this whole experience out mentally until recently it's crept back up on me... I'm still in the process of trying to figure out how to mentally sort out and feel about this program....

If any of you have questions for students of this program I can answer them to the best of my recollection and ability... Alot of it is still coming back to me

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