Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rebecca at Spring Creek Lodge (From wwasp-survivors)

This testimony was found on the WWASP-suvivors website. All rights goes to the individual author.

Memoir: Thompson Falls Montana

Maybe you’ve heard of those schools where they pick you up in the middle of the night and you disappear. They picked me up in the middle of the day. I called my sister and told her that some people are here and I don’t know where I’m going. I packed a few books for the road and got into a car with two ex-cops. It was a two day drive to I didn’t know where. They told me not to run. My last meal was an egg mcmuffin. That morning we drove deeper and deeper and higher and higher into the forest on a mountainside. There were signs everywhere that said “private property” and “no trespassing”. I wished I would have run sooner. I soon learned that I could not call my parents. I could not talk to boys. I was on lockdown; I had no rights and could not leave. The behavioral boarding school was called “Spring Creek Lodge Academy”. There were eight giant, two-story, log cabins on campus with a communal cafeteria in the middle. Each cabin was divided into four dormitories. Mine was ground level on the girl’s side appropriately entitled: “Serenity”. I was assigned a “family” and a back-stabbing bunk buddy. There were twenty bunk beds in our dorm all along the walls. It was attached to another dorm by a door, but we weren’t allowed to talk to the girls living there. There was also a large bathroom connected to our living space with several sinks and small showers.

I then began my life in “the program”. It was a cross between a military school and a cult. I also like to think of it as an Orwellian concentration or internment camp for minors, but I suppose the term “private prison” might be less offensive. I was introduced to levels and a complicated point system. Something like an automatic twelve points a day, minus twenty-five points per “consequence”, and one-hundred-and-fifty points to get to level two. At the end of the day I was always in the negative and never got past level one. This was accomplished mainly by talking. Whenever we went outside we had to march around heel-toe and “in sync” in lines. If you talked in line it was a T.O.S. (talking-on-silence) infraction. I also got in trouble for talking to other level-ones as level-ones can only talk to their buddies or level-threes and higher.

I grew somewhat accustomed to the monotony, floating through the same day over and over and over again. The bell in the morning, the five minute shower, the ugly uniforms- khaki and maroon. They wouldn’t let me keep any of my belongings. I was strip-searched upon arrival. This included the confiscation of my black and purple polka dot underwear. Only white cotton undergarments from now on. They took my Dostoyevsky and even my Calvin and Hobbes. Our rare trips to the little library (which I was usually barred from attending) were depressing. The selection consisted mainly of Goosebumps and other preteen literature. With no access to telephones or computers, my only connection to the outside world was through letters to my parents.

It eventually became clear that they had become almost as brainwashed as some of my peers. My pleas to come home or to be allowed to move in with my best friend in Los Angeles were met with program lingo i.e. “work the program” or you will be there until you turn eighteen. I was fourteen. I tried to comply once against my better judgment. I decided that the level two privileges of butter, sugar, and a weekly candy bar were not worth it. I saw level sevens crushed because they lost all their points for a trivial reason. I saw the special treatment given to girls that had been there too long in order to speed up their graduation.

The futility of compliance with a nonsensical, arbitrary set of rules where years of confinement are worth more than good behavior led to daydreams or what they refer to as “run plans”. Staring into space is categorized as either looking-at-boys or planning to escape. Although I was often penalized for the former by the upper level girls, I was usually doing nothing except not looking straight ahead of me. We would often have to stop in the middle of marching from place to place to accommodate other lines or stop at the restrooms. Instead of standing in formation, I’d sit down and start a conversation considering I stopped caring in the least about points. I made friends with girls who felt the same way.

We shared rumors and strategies to get out. One day we heard that two boys managed to leave. They were upper level and took advantage of their good standing to make a run for it. Supposedly they ran, stole a car, and stole a boat before being caught by the police and put in juvenile hall. Whether or not there was any truth in this, it inspired me. During our P.E. we would jog around in circles in our fenced area and discuss whether or not we thought that there were guards, dogs, or just upper level boys waiting for us if we tried to run. My friend Jennifer and I decided we would find out. There was an emergency button we could push to get out of our cabin. The only problem was that our shoes were locked up at night, so we only had flip-flops. We pushed the button and ran for a bit, but the boys were faster. They caught up in our pathetic attempt and put us in “intervention”, basically a little cabin with lavender walls where they put you on time out. We were isolated from any houses or people way up there, and didn’t have any food to bring with us anyway.

There were small victories however, occasionally vicarious ones. We could only eat three meals a day, plus one snack, so when we snuck extra pop tarts for friends that was a triumph. There was also this one time when a girl from one line saw her boyfriend from home walking in another line and they ran to each other and kissed. The same girl headed a mini-rebellion consisting of some girls from her cabin breaking out and running around the campus naked. In the end I had my own successful demonstration of defiance. I couldn’t convince my group of friends to do the same- at that point they couldn’t talk to me. One by one they were participating in the program due to fear of their parent’s threats of leaving them there. I was also afraid of having to celebrate my sixteenth birthday there, of finishing high school in another state, of having nothing when I finally got out.

In any case, I staged an individual silent protest. I stopped talking and listening until they didn’t know what to do with me. At first they put me in intervention for long periods of time in solitary confinement. They threatened to send me to a facility in Mexico or Jamaica where there are even less regulations. They tried to restrain me, prevent me from sleeping, and other methods of unpleasantness. Finally they kicked me out. It was completely unexpected, I didn’t get to say goodbye, and I was permitted to return home like I wanted. When I got home I looked up the school online. Their website recommended that parents watch the movie Thirteen to understand what horrible things their teenagers are doing. In 2009 Spring Creek was closed. Other schools like it have also been shut down for similar reasons including suicide/attempted suicide of the students and lawsuits thanks to allegations of child abuse and neglect/ human rights violations.

The facility was closed in 2009 as a number of lawsuits were close to be decided. Also a girl lost her life there as the employees failed to see obvious signs of suicide attempts.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hannah at Real Gorge Academy and Red River Academy (fra

This testimony was given on the webpage Safe Teen School by the student Hannah. All rights goes to the original author.

I went to Royal Gorge in August 2008 and left in October 2008 when it was shut down and sent to Red River Academy.

A girl was forced to stay in intervention spread eagle with a chaperone sitting on her i dont remember the staffs name. I got along with all staff cause i was the baby in both my families i was in. I was pulled after being in a program for two years. We hardly got medical care. The nurse Alicia Hall is being charged with neglect because she almost killed a student by giving her the wrong medication. We always had food but had to be forced to eat if we were to skinny and had to eat all our food and if we were to fat we had to eat 50 percent of our food.

I know of all the 45 students at Royal Gorge all of us were suposed to go to Red River and maybe 11 us went the rest just dissappeared throughout the night. We were forced to drink 8 bottles of water a day at Red River with maybe two bathroom breaks and we couldnt go during school otherwise it was a cat 3, which is 50 points taken away.

I got out August 18, 2010 two days before my two year date. My aunt took me saying i was going to live with a family friend and go to school down there. I almost went home when Royal Gorge closed but my family rep lied and said that' i need more serious help and that going home would be a disaster. My relationship with my aunt who was my guardian is horrible because as soon as i got home she started abusing me.

Royal Gorge Academy closed shortly after the director was convicted of voilence against a student for which he was sentenced of one count each of third-degree assault and false imprisonment


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Unknown at Youth Foundation Success Academy

This testimony was given by an unknown teenager as a comment to an article about this program. All rights goes to the original author.

I graduated the Riverview summer program last month, and all I can say about these kinds of facilities is that they are the worst place that a child could ever imagine being.

Clearly made evident by the comments made by Connie (her lack of knowledge of syntax, punctuation, incorrect use of words, etc.), the staff (including the director, Chaffin Pullan, whose letter full of errors [meant to be a professional, sent out to every single client of their company] is shown above in Connie’s first comment) was nothing less than unqualified. They were uneducated, at best, and ignorant of any kind of decent treatment of human beings.

Youth Foundations is a private prison for teenagers. As some of you may know, private prisons have very little regulation. Because they are not funded by tax dollars, fewer laws apply to them. While I was in the program, we ate three very small meals a day. Not only were these meals not nearly enough to keep us full, but they also lacked any kind of nutritional value. We ate only carbs and fat and very small amounts of meat and VERY LITTLE vegetable selection. I lost ten pounds while here and I had hunger pains every day. My skin and hair became very oily because of the high fat intake.

Most staff was insensitive, to say the least. I once saw a staff threaten to beat up a student in front of about 20 other people– none of whom reported anything (out of what I’m assuming is fear of punishment if no one believed them). The summer program was given physical punishments, burpees (military push ups), for standard rule breaking. I often saw very unfair distribution of burpees, and unwarranted distribution of burpees (mainly to– what I’m assuming was to– maintain the power over the students). A room full of approximately

50 students heard a testimony of about 5 people against one student raping another, and other students being involved in watching out for staff (to avoid being caught). The student who raped (who also had continually verbally sexually harrassed many of the girls) the other boy was only given the punishment of being sent to “the other side”– the program that doesn’t do hikes/ “fun” activities. There was no evidence of the victim’s parents being notified.

Not only was the treatment of the students by staff and other students absolutely deplorable, but the facility was also filthy. I arrived at the camp in a musty smelling building (that may have mold or asbestos– it’s a fairly old building), and shortly after wa shown to my room which had a pretty filthy shower. The dorm rooms and halls had stains all over them. The students rarely washed their hands– most of them were filthy. I once saw a student who was serving lunch stick her finger in her nose, eat what she had on her finger, and continue serving without even flinching. The lunch room employees were not the only bad thing about the lunch room, but the lunch room also had a rotten egg stench (probably from a gas leak in the stove) and bathrooms which realeased a very pungent odor of waste (this bathroom was right next to the kitche, they actually share a wall). I had heard very legitimate tesimonies of the physical abuse of students.

The ex-board member, Jade, had been asked to leave because of embezzlement of funds meant to be for the students (for activities, food, etc.). Toward the end of my stay, we began to be followed (on all of our activities that were away from the facility) by someone who we were told was the owner of the facility (that the facility was only rented from this man by Youth Foundations), but I don’t know if this was true. Our parents were never notified of the stalker. The therapists had no more qualification to diagnose any kind of disorders than did our parents. They threw around disorders to convince our parents that we needed to stay there longer. They gave ridiculous rules “just because” (to maintain the illusion of authority/ order). Many students witnessed Chaffin Pullan calling many of the girls “sluts” and similar names. The staff frequently manipulateed our parents into thinking that we were doing “fun” activities to help build character, but most of the time, we only watched movies near our dorms. The staff promised unreasonable things to our parents that NEVER happened. This place is disorganized, suspicious, and immoral.

The academy was later shut down. An employee was sentenced to 120 days in jail for sharing photos of himself naked to the students.

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