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Facility Question and Answers / Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« on: January 30, 2011, 12:51:58 AM »
I know this forum is about questions and answers but since there has been a long discussion I figured this thread was an exception as it has not been moved to another forum.
I didnt know there was a wilderness option for young adults because I figured most wouldnt go. What this previous poster highlighted to me though is the absurd double standard that seems to be a common theme in wilderness programs. Kids are told constantly that honesty is the best policy. Not just in this industry but at home from their parents. I came home the other day from work to find my twin toddlers in trouble for lying after spilling a green drink on a white couch. Their mother told them that were not in trouble for the spill but for trying to cover it up. I dont think this mentality is unique to my house and many parents who are frustrated enough with badly behaved teens to look at this option seem to be most frustrated if their kid tells lies. So if honesrty and moral integrity is one of the primary values that parents want their kids to have from going to wilderness, it is staggering that a program is so blatantly willing to lie.

Telling someone that they are free to walk away from a treatment program but doing everything possible to manipulate them out of this choice or make it physically difficult is blatantly dishonest and immoral. Battered wives are technically free to leave their abusive relationship but their partner often makes it exceedingly hard to do so. Nobody would say that this is OK. If you really wanted to set a young adult up to have a sucessful experience that got them back on track, surely giving them a detailed picture of what it entailed that was free of any manipulative behaviors would actually be more likely to get them on board. Recognizing that at 18 they are legally considered able to make choices for themselves and working through choices with them seems the only logical thing to do. If a place is not willing to do this then it is time to question the motives. Even prisoners who participate in rehab programs are given a detailed understanding of what is involved and in most cases the choice to sign on.

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Aspen Education Group / Re: ASR Alumni Interview
« on: January 24, 2011, 01:12:26 AM »
having read this interview it looks real enough to me. But it hardly seems an advertisement. The biggest thing that these places seem to boast about is forcing kids to be honest. Yet the girl admits that she was grossly mislead about what the day to day life of the school was like. No reasonable adult would have a good attitude to therapy if they were lied to so of course an angry kid is not going to miraculously be on board. She also describes some pretty confronting therapies. I have spoken to adult drug addicts and none of them have talked about "dreading" a group therapy situation continuously. i could understand if she said she was nervous the first time because she was not sure what to expect but to continually dread a therapy situation indicates that it is not doing its job. It was also pretty telling that the first thing she did when she came home was get alcohol poisoning. I know a lot of people relapse a few times if they have some kind of addiction issues but this was her first weekend at home. I would say this interview is an advertisement for why you should avoid this school. I hope she is doing well and she is enjoying her studies but i don't think the things she went through at this school make it worth it.

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Aspen Education Group / Re: Why does Aspen hire people with no education?
« on: January 23, 2011, 11:28:49 PM »
Quote from: "Anne Bonney"
Quote from: "Whooter"
But you also need to keep in mind that many of these kids dropped out of school and to get them into the classroom with dedicated teachers and open their books , get them back on track academically and study is a huge step.

That's, almost word for word, what Newton said in his deposition regarding Lulu Corter.  Well, they weren't in school anyway so it's just fine to treat them like animals!  (Obviously paraphrasing that last part but the underlined part is exactly what he said.

this is actually a good point ann. When I first signed on I actually questioned whether misbehavior should be rewarded with an outward bound type of trip whne all the other kids were stuck in the classroom. I didnt imagine that kids would be out of school for months at a time (In the case of wilderness) I did outward bound at home where it was pretty much an outdoor ed thing with all the guys at my school and it was great fun. Id heard about the cops also taking at risk kids on outward bound trips for a weekend or maybe up to about a fortnight and thought it was something like that. Year later when I read about that Aaron Bacon kid I saw that his mum expressed similar scepticsm about taking the kid out of school go camping and then obviously reading the rest of the story and just feeling terrible for her. Was lulu corter the kid who spent like ten years in a rehab?
I accept that some kids who are in trouble are skipping school a lot but it makes no logical sense to tell them that on one hand their education is important enough that they have to go to a boarding school that they dont want to go to but on the other hand to employ teachers that are not properly qualified. A lot of kids who are kind of wild at school actually have learning issues. Part of the reason for the bad behavior is because they feel embarrased to admit they are having trouble. Id imagine that teaching kids like this would be difficult and would take a pretty high level of expertese. All the more reason to employ high quality professionals

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Aspen Education Group / Re: Why does Aspen hire people with no education?
« on: January 23, 2011, 11:26:51 PM »
Quote from: "Anne Bonney"
Quote from: "Whooter"
But you also need to keep in mind that many of these kids dropped out of school and to get them into the classroom with dedicated teachers and open their books , get them back on track academically and study is a huge step.

That's, almost word for word, what Newton said in his deposition regarding Lulu Corter.  Well, they weren't in school anyway so it's just fine to treat them like animals!  (Obviously paraphrasing that last part but the underlined part is exactly what he said.

this is actually a good point ann. When I first signed on I actually questioned whether misbehavior should be rewarded with an outward bound type of trip whne all the other kids were stuck in the classroom. I didnt imagine that kids would be out of school for months at a time (In the case of wilderness) I did outward bound at home where it was pretty much an outdoor ed thing with all the guys at my school and it was great fun. Id heard about the cops also taking at risk kids on outward bound trips for a weekend or maybe up to about a fortnight and thought it was something like that. Year later when I read about that Aaron Bacon kid I saw that his mum expressed similar scepticsm about taking the kid out of school go camping and then obviously reading the rest of the story and just feeling terrible for her. Was lulu corter the kid who spent like ten years in a rehab?
I accept that some kids who are in trouble are skipping school a lot but it makes no logical sense to tell them that on one hand their education is important enough that they have to go to a boarding school that they dont want to go to but on the other hand to employ teachers that are not properly qualified. A lot of kids who are kind of wild at school actually have learning issues. Part of the reason for the bad behavior is because they feel embarrased to admit they are having trouble. Id imagine that teaching kids like this would be difficult and would take a pretty high level of expertese. All the more reason to employ high quality professionals

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Aspen Education Group / Re: Why does Aspen hire people with no education?
« on: January 20, 2011, 09:02:41 PM »
I worked in wilderness for aspen not the main school but nevertheless whether it is wilderness or a school my point is the same. If anything wilderness is even more stressful for all concerned so just employing some army guy or someone with a commerce degree to work with the kids often without any qualified supervision is worse. It concerned me that all the guys on your list taught but none had education degrees or diplomas. If I had a regular kid at a normal school i would want all the teachers to have the right qualifications. With the added issues that kids with various mental health issues have it seems to me twice as important that they are at least getting qualified teachers.

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Aspen Education Group / Re: Why does Aspen hire people with no education?
« on: January 20, 2011, 08:10:02 PM »
Ive come to this pretty late. Whooter having a general degree is not enough for working directly with kids who can have complex problems. I got hired and I had a commerce degree with a marketing minor. But I was expected to help run group therapy sessions that were sometimes really emotionally intense. I had not even worked in my field yet. It is not like working at summer camp. You have to deal with situations that require real knowledge and a sophisticated level of expert skill. Lots of these kids are still young and if their issues are dealt with in expertly it can lead to making the problem a lot worse. I really did not know what to do when kids would tell the group that they had been sexually abused.
i should add that the guy who i had to work most closely with did not have any degree. He was straight from the army. The way he acted toward the kids did not calm them it actually sometimes provoked a more angry reaction. One time he used what they called a pain compliance technique that basically involved giving the kid chinese burns. I don't even remember what the kid was being difficult about.
 it was meant to make the kid quickly compliant but it lasted for like 20 minutes. This kid got more angry and ended up being asked to leave because he eventually took a swing at the guy. He was in for taking drugs like dope and had no prior history of violence. He had always been pretty mellow for most staff. He wasn't even a smart ass.

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The Troubled Teen Industry / Re: Post your positive program experiences
« on: August 18, 2010, 10:26:28 PM »
Whooter i was at a place as staff for 3 months. Month 1 I had just started and wanted to give it a chance. Month 2 I began having doubts. Month three was when I resigned because i realised i was a part of something abusive. that is why i stayed.Not every single aspect was negative. Thanksgiving was celebrated and they even bussed in real food that we cooked in foil on an open fire. The day was spent just kicking a football around and relaxing and talking and eating. it was far more therapeutic than most of the nonsense that constituted any given day.
I am glad suck it you had a good experience.  i am not just saying this to be an asshole to you but why the defensiveness? Ok it is great that this worked for you but you call yourself suck it and in some instances seem eager to dismiss or even get angry at anyone who claims their experience was negative. It does seem at times you really want to provoke those who had a negative experience. I get that you feel there is group think on this forum and maybe there is in that most are opposed to this system but why present your case in such a provocative manner? Surely if this experience was as healing as you say it would not matter to you whether others are critical.

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I canít speak to all wilderness places because I only worked at one and it was a while ago now. But be sceptical about progress. I knew one guy who was there because he took a lot of drugs and liked speed in particular. He admitted to me that he really craved them a lot and this had not stopped wanting them at all during his time there. But in terms of doing everything he was supposed to the kid was a star. He progressed in record time. 2 days after he graduated he was back on the first level because he stole his kid brotherís ADD meds. In hindsight it was pretty unethical for them to have ever taken the kid but they did twice. He ended up at a treatment centre in florida. His mother was enamored with it because they had family down there and at the end of the day kids got to stay with families instead of somewhere sterile. This was 99 so I have no idea whether the place was legit or if it was just another of these places that is just abusive. At the time it sounded perfect and I felt glad that the kid didnít have to do wilderness anymore.
So basically if your kid comes home from wilderness and it turns out that she has not progressed as well as you thought donít let them tell you it is a good idea for her to go back. It wontí be. I feel for you and your girl but keep her at home if you possibly can. So many places that sound good on paper turn out not to be.

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Aspen Education Group / Re: Dr. Phil did use Aspen again
« on: May 31, 2010, 08:48:58 PM »
Ive read on here some pretty disturbing allegations about turn about ranch. I also saw one of be brat camps a scene where they tied 2 girls together for the day. Maybe the producers of this TV show are not aware of what happens. Has anyone written to the show?

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Aspen Education Group / Re: Two girls missing from SUWS
« on: May 14, 2010, 12:35:54 AM »
Its good to hear this pair are safe and OK. I hope when they get home the families can sort whatever is up out so they don't go back. I wanted to comment on wilderness runaways. I remember one guy who was older than most of the kids. He was nearly 18 and had spent a fair bit of time over the years at schools and camps for troubled kids. I think his original issue was drugs but he kept changing schools for not following the rules or getting expelled. He was basically just marking time till he could legally leave. On a social level he was personable and easygoing, if you didnt act like an asshole to him he didnt give you any attitude. He had no learning issues so could probably handle college too. Basically he seemed like a pretty average suburban kid. One guy i worked with had a real issue with him and claimed he was a sociopath. If he was I never saw any evidence of this.
 
His parents had said he had to see it through till he was 18 but he did not have much hope of making it work at home for long. I never got his parents side of the story. One thing he said though was that he didnt care about having to be homeless as he had lived so rough at wilderness, he could bust his own fire, live off minimal food and do without regular hot showers etc. He was originally from some southern state where hunting is common so could kill food. So making kids live really roughly the way they do at wilderness can really backfire. Given the cost of wilderness, most kids would be from families with at least some kind of disposable income. I wouldn't think such a kid would ever seriously consider being homeless. But some do. It makes me think wilderness can backfire pretty badly.

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Danny Im not denying that some of the kids had problems and some were difficult. I say some because there were a few that really had maybe not made the smartest choices but who werent addicted to anything and were pretty decent kids. I would say this group had parents who  thought this kind of thing would scare the kid into straightening up but who werent clear on how brutal the reality could be.
Some kids were also there because their parents thought this was a thing to try to help with stuff like depression. Some were a little bit of a handful. Even the kids with real drug issues were not necessarly badly behaved when we got them ie when they werent high. So maybe something less physically demanding and also more geared toward dealing with their specific issue in a less threatening way would be the better. At any rate I was answering a question about how the kids were forced to march and I admit i was there briefly but overall they were pretty compliant and it didnt require force. Kids are no different to the rest of the population. They are all unique and different. Don't believe what you see on tv the camera might only show 1/2 the story.

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That's my point. It would have been a good precedure if it was adhered to enough. We had the resources but did not always use them. I am afraid you are just flat out wrong about the symptoms of detox for some drugs. Some drug detox particularly for harder drugs which a few kids were taking involves nausea, vomiting and cramping. If the person is taking it easy and getting plenty of rest and fluid it is like getting over a flu. But if your kid had a bad flu the last thing you would do is make them go hiking and camping. So it doesnt make sense for places like this to take kids who are beginning to withdraw from hard drugs. It is a recipe for disaster.

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I honestly dont recall having much to do with the intake process. I was a field guy.  I think some kids were strip searched particularly the ones there for drug abuse. To be honest most did not have to be "forced" to hike. You watch things like brat camp and are lead to believe that they are non compliant and super rebellious but most went along pretty much did as they were told. Some were delivered by those escort guys but by the time they got to the camp were pretty calm. Im not saying i condone this practice but just that I cant tell you what the reaction was when they got there. I didnt ask because it seemed like rubbing it in a bit. they knew this wasnt going to be fun. They probably got the lecture from the folks. I saw my job as to try and help them get something out of this so id try to start on a positive note.
I
n terms of restraint I was only there 2 months. I did not ever do a full one although a couple of times I broke up a fight. Usually by the time I had pulled the other guy away he stopped swinging so there was no need to take him down to the ground. When i saw other colleagues do it they would get the kids arm behind his back and the kid would kind of fall to his knees and then be pushed to the ground. Once the kid stopped struggling they let him up. I can think of at least 3 occasions when it looked unnecessary and on one of these the kid was kept on the ground for far too long.
Usually if a kid misbehaved they would be reminded that the more progress they made the less long the stay. Sometimes they would be banned from talking to the other kids or not allowed to have herbs and spices on their food. If they really messed up they would have to do other parts of the program again which meant being there longer.
Sometimes kids would vomit in the first couple of days. in fairness they were not accused of faking but they didn't get the medical attention they needed either. I was told it was normal for kids acclimating. This made sense at the time because i had a nose bleed or 2 myself at first. Doctor friends now tell me that if your body vomits something it is it's way of telling you something is wrong. In hindsight taking any kid that may need to detox from a drug or who is likely to overheat is probably a terrible idea.
What i regret the most was that i mislead some kids. I didnt do it on purpose but still i did it. I was a foreign national that had worked the american summer in a summer camp. I did this twice at the same place I coached rugby and soccer and had a great time but didn't know about this side of the camping industry. Some kids got letters from their parents saying they would go onto boarding school. In the country I am from it is common for rural kids to go to boarding school and I am a country boy who had an awesome time as a boarder. It boosted my confidence a lot, I got to go on sporting exchange to england,  and Im still friends with some of the guys years later.
 So I told most kids that they would have a great time, be able to get their grades up fast, play lots of sports and if the school was coed be surrounded by girls 24/7. I also told them that the positive of going away to school was that if you wanted to reinvent yourself nobody would know that you were a nerd or a stoner or whatever in your previous life. I had no idea of what these boarding schools were like. I thought the kid would see some kind of therapist once a week, go home for holidays and pretty much have a standard boarding school experience. I remember one kid worked his ass off at camp and graduated pretty quickly. He was a great kid who smoked a lot of pot but apart from that was just a good guy. He was devistated when he got the letter saying he was going away to school. He just broke down and cried his eyes out and felt like the whole thing had been totally in vain. I remember telling him that boarding school would be great and that i would kill to go to school in prime skiing country and the  kid saying he didnt think so. I guess the poor kid knew more than i did.

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I think whooter you are anaware of what happens. If a kid got sick the procedure was not to stop the whole hike. We had radio systems and would call in help for that 1 kid. There were enough staff that the other kids would continue with normal activities. While all kids like to push a boundary or 2 you also forget that they are not idiots. They know that a qualified doctor can tell whether they are faking. With this in mind staff are not doctors, so if after giving a kid rest and water and in some occasional cases a pep talk about how great they have done today if they say they are not well, or worse have a high temperature from the outset then surely the common sense thing to would be to get professional help. Surely if you sent your kid away anywhere this is the level of care you would want for them? Afterall  some parents sent their not too badly behaved kid to camp because they found drugs and felt it was better to be safe than sorry. So they expected that you cared about their kid. To me this means erring on the side of caution and looking out for the kid like a parent would. Most parents would call a doctor for their kid.

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Quote from: "Whooter"
Even the deputy conducting the investigation indicated that there is difficulty differentiating between a behavior issue and real symptoms.  I believe when they get down to the root cause that this is what they will find.

When you are dealing with kids who are on a hike voluntarily and a child is complaining of feeling ill and wanting to stop then I believe it would be reacted to more quickly than if a child in a program exhibited the same symptoms and asked to stop.  This is because the staff needs to weigh the behavior issue and try to determine if the child is trying to manipulate the staff or is really sick.  This ends up playing against the childís chances of getting help more quickly.

Hiking groups outside of programs do not have to weigh these options.



...
you know one thing that surprised me was how normally most kids acted compared to what Id been told they behaved like. Most of them arrived pretty compliant and tried to do what you asked them. Some were a little mouthy or tried to act tough at first but then dont most kids when they are new to a situation? Some had real issues like ADD or something but they were more likely to get in trouble for just playing stupid pranks or not paying attention than faking. The kids there for drugs or behaving badly at home were actually pretty well behaved most of the time. I can see why you'd imagine there would be  lot of faking but you need to understand that the hikes are pretty tough for an adult in good shape. If you are a fat kid, or your lungs are in bad shape from smoking a lot of drugs or you are just out of shape then it is pretty uncomfortable. So maybe some kids just dont know what it is like to excercise strenuously when out of shape but even if this is the case when they say they feel lousy its not faking, the probably do. Some of those kids would genuinely feel better after rest and water, but occasionally a kid wouldnt. Isnt it more logical to give the kid the benefit of the doubt and use the radio to get help? if they are faking a dr would sort it out, if not their life has been saved.

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