Liahona Academy testimony

Liahona Academy is a boot camp styled boarding school for boys located outside Virgin in Utah. A boy died there in 2010.

I used to believe my 7 months in Liahona Academy had torn my soul from my own body, now I am so blessed to have known what having a loss of freedom feels like and it never leaves you.

My time is best spent in the light but I NEED to cast a spotlight upon private institutions such as this… I wanted a perfect ending and through experience I have learned the hard way, that some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it! Without care towards what is going to happen next but always expecting ambiguity. It could all be for nothing or possibly for everything but their is no cure for this as many good people have been convinced that society is breaking down and it is collapsing around their children, they see their children trying drugs and believe they are going to die…

My parents thought they took me to a place that was ran by professionals with an amazing success rate, the best place in the country! When in reality they were just creating molded tin soldiers. The staff did not have any serious certifiable knowledge or education to provide therapy of any kind to anyone for anything! Think about a situation where people are told you can physically, mentally and emotionally abuse other people in your own group because you are doing them a favor… Children become incredibly cruel in this type of environment, systematically setting a Lord of The Flies mentality among youth. The least human part of ourselves come out because that kind of anger comes from fear… It does not come from anything else but being scared out of your own mind!

I need to let the people responsible that we remember and are not a bunch of teenagers anymore, I am going to tell the world about how you destroyed families… I am going to let them know the horrible things you taught children to do to each other and how people killed themselves to get away from that pain YOU manifested within them. During the Vietnam war it was a phrase to say, “We need to destroy the village in order to save it.” Well, some parents have said, “I need to destroy my kid in order to save him.” Look at all of us, we are a bunch of broken kids, but here we are and they are still doing it to other kids. Do NOT give up on on your child, if you send a loved one to this place, it will cast a shadow of doubt that you as a parent had no intention to help but to throw away. Luckily they did not consider the type of person I had always pushed myself to be and I was one of the kids that had gotten it easy compared to those who did not. Some would swear being saved by kissing the boots of these self proclaimed child repairmen but others have felt ruin and torment…

This place was not the worst time in my life, that was when I was a young child, traumatized, but it did allow me to see a reason why people hurt other people, it is because of places like Liahona Academy. You teach nothing but tough love and self loathing, you will not get away with it…

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A. M. about a stay at Turn-about Ranch

Turn-about Ranch is today mostly known for a murder a resident committed as result of a psycologic breakdown and it sponsoring of the Dr. Phil entertainment show. It has detained teenagers for many years. Here is a young adult testimony about a stay at the ranch when the auhtor was teenager.

THIS PLACE SHOULD BE ILLEGAL.

As a young adult who was sent here as a teenager, I can say with complete certainty: THIS PLACE IS RUN BY SICK, SICK PEOPLE and SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.

They literally abuse children if they don’t follow their rules. They make the children work in the fields for no pay. Work is fine and it is good for you, but when the company has a monopoly on local land and we’re pulling down multiple harvests in a single season, eating cheap food and also doing all the maintenance upkeep on the multiple, giant properties this company owns….you put two and two together. These hustlers are like John McCain screwed Ned Flanders, with a bit of Plantation boss worship thrown in to boot. They’re fleecing the parents just rich enough to afford this, but just dumb enough to realize the profit angle which is really going on here.

I was taken there by some strange men who abducted me in my home—I awoke at 4 am, handcuffed to some jarhead looking dude, taken me to an airport, and told me I would get hurt if I tried to run away. Thinking back, I notice they took off the handcuffs when I passed through the airport. I.e., what they were doing was illegal. They didn’t want actual law enforcement to see a kid being put on a plane by a civilian in handcuffs. Doesn’t look good, does it? And so on. Religious fundamentalism, yuppie cash, and hick yokels make for quite a sick place.

If any parents are considering this, I would hope they consider asking themselves what kind of a parent just gives their child away to people they don’t even know. Chances are, your kid is “out of control” because you have taught them nothing about how to really enjoy life. They’re taking drugs because nothing in their life so far has compared, in terms of feeling that sense of wholeness that comes from being truly happy. You probably don’t even know what happiness is yourself. So it goes. A decade or so later, and the more and more I think about it, the more I think about putting together a class-action lawsuit. I was in no way rehabilitated, and those who sent me here have since never even talked about it to me. It has just been brushed under the rug. So much for genuine concern. And so much for that time and that cash. The older I get, I see this is just a legally-sanctioned way for parents to sell off their responsibilities for a while.

Again, This place should be shut down and investigated. And parents need to take a hard look in the mirror about what kind of example they themselves set. The more you pay attention, the more you notice most people think they can just spend their way into Heaven. Well, fuck that.

See the legal definitions for child abduction, child abuse, and child labor for what this place has to offer.

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Samantha at Diamond Ranch Academy

This testimony was found on another wordpress blog.

Diamond Ranch Academy was one of the worst experiences of my life.

I was sent there at 16, and within my first week the girls in my dorm poured water in my shoes and urinated in the bath if they knew it was my turn to clean it. On my first phone call to my mom when I tried to tell her what was happening my therapist hung up the phone and told me I couldn’t tell her stuff that happened here. I couldn’t even tell her when a boy died on the other campus. Later on I made the best friends of my life, but if anything I made more connections for drugs there then I had before.

I did not graduate the program after 18 months, but I earned a GED and my mom pulled me. My first week there was a homeless staff restraining a boy student and broke his wrist. I watched staff pick on autistic kids in homeless, and restrain a diabetic girl while she was having a high blood sugar rush. I watched a girl have a seizure and everyone thought she was lying. After she came back from the hospital they tried making her do calisthenics with the rest of us (later that day) after the doctors told them to let her rest.

I made friends with some of the staff who truly cared but you must keep in mind the staff that are watching your kids in their dorms at night are college students themselves aged 18+ and that was the hardest part. look up the Stanford Prison Experiment and you will understand why they should have staffed people who were majoring in helping dysfunctional youth and not college kids. there is a very high relapse rate after graduating. Many of my friends came back to DRA months later for their free month you get when you graduate.

I have a great relationship with my mom because I worked for it AFTER leaving. While there you are allowed to talk to your child every other week for 45 minutes. My mother and I didn’t get anything worked out until I came home and we had infinite time to talk. If your child has en eating disorder, addiction to drugs, or a serious problem this isn’t the place to send them. Please hear me out, I loved the friends I made and the staff that really did care, and I loved the basketball team because it made me feel like a normal person again, but the program Diamond Ranch Academy is a place I will never send my own kids or recommend for anyone because of how many people I watched get worse.

My friend Hannah Cook committed suicide after a year of being home. another boy Glen Parrish just overdosed on drugs/alcohol. There was another girl I think her name was Brandi G, that committed suicide as well. Diamond Ranch Academy does not truly have the tools to fix your relationship with your children, you do.

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6. Diamond Ranch Academy in Utah – United States (1000 places You don’t want to be as a teenager)

Sagewalk wilderness program testimony

The Sagewalk wilderness program operated around Bend in Oregon. They closed in 2009 after a boy lost his life in the program. The entire concept was dangerous according to the sheriff who investigated the death but not illegal, so none were convicted for the death. Years before Sagewalk was used in a reality survivor-like show called “Brat Camp” leaving parents to believe that the wilderness therapy concept was safe. It wasn’t. Unfortunately it took a death to prove that. Here is a testimony found on Fornits.

I don’t know how to really dispell the myths about Sagewalk being a “boot camp” and students being “tortured and abused” other than just describing how a typical day went for me. This is rather long so pop some popcorn or something…

Day starts off by counselors calling 5 minutes. This means that everyone has 5 minutes to be dressed, have their sleeping bags hung on a tree, grab their food bags, and be sitting around the firepit. If everyone does not have this done by 5 minutes, everything gets put back the way it was, then you do it again until every thing is completed in the 5 minute slot. After this, there is hygeine. This involves filling your cup with water and soap, taking your rag and washing your face, hands and feet. I believe 8 or 10 minutes was given for hygeine. You had to be checked off by a counselor. If not everyone was checked off by a counselor in the allotted time, everyone had to do it again, although it was fairly easy the second time around, since most everyone was already clean and didnt need to do additional scrubbing. Then came breakfast, usually 20 minute time limit. Breakfast consisted of usually cold oats, with water, powdered milk, and then if you rationed well, brown sugar and raisins. If a fire was going, campers had the option of heating their oats, although only a few did so (I preferred my oats cold). You were required to eat at least 2 cups of oats, and one quart of water, both checked off (one girl forgot to check off that she had drank her quart of water, was forced to drink another and promptly vomited next to me) After this, you needed to clean your cup, which involved taking making mud and scrubbing the inside of your cup with it and rinsing it out until it was spotless. If everyone did not have their food eaten and cups cleaned by time limit, then spices would not be available for later meals (you needed to make 3 time limits in a row in order to have spices). All food that was prepared is required to be eaten, regardless if you feel full or the food doesn’t taste good. Some people vomited because of this, including myself after using too much spice on my rice and lentils. After this, usually came some sort of planned activity, gathering firewood, some sort of group therapy, or when we were moved to a site in the Orinoco (?) Forest, day-hiking (food and water only, no packs) up mountains and through forests and what not (probably the most fun activity there, incredibly beautiful) although we couldn’t really do this at the high desert site and apparently, SW has moved back there where I spent my first 10 days or so. Gathering firewood was rather difficult in the high desert, since we were required by both SW and BLM policy to take only dead and down trees. Lunch was usually very light, just some granola and another quart of water. Very easy to make time limit, if there was one (sometimes we would stop hiking and sit and snack then continue). This meal wasn’t required, but was only taken away if the group was misbehaving (never taken away if we were hiking or going to hike). Afternoon activities were performed, sometimes our “homework”, coursework that focused on goals, aspirations, management skills, etc. not your typical math, science, english etc. or more firewood collecting, therapy, etc.

Dinner was usually at sunset or so (preceeded by hygeine again), since we could not really do much after dark anyways. Dinner was rice and lentils except for Wednesday nights and Thursday nights. Wednesday night, we were given dehydrated refried beans and tortillas, made absolutely amazing (well, in comparison to the rice and lentils) burritos and Thursday nights was Macaroni night, which if you still had some cheese (most was used during burrito night) could make mac and cheese. Even without cheese, however, just regular macaroni was much better tasting than the rice and lentils. Since Rice and Lentils take at least 20 minutes to cook on the fire, time limit was either 40 minutes or 60 minutes depending on behavior (longer time limit for better behavior). While food was cooking, we were required to write a page in our journals. We also had a moment of silence (controversial, i think) and this was also the time when most of the group therapy occurred, when counselors encouraged the campers to express greivances, whether it be with SW, the counselors themselves, other students, or just problems in general. Usually, this either allowed for compromise and conflict resolution, or sometimes flared tempers (some girl I remember believed in Creationism, which I was fine with, but then she started ripping on evolution, which I was not cool with). Food was then eaten, then cups cleaned, food bags put away and we were dismissed to bed. Although we did not have any concept of time of there other than what day it was, I could guess that we received at least 11-12 hours of sleep a night (7-8pm till 7-8am).

Perhaps the least fun activity, and the one with the most controversy, would be the hiking. This involved taking down camp, with a time limit, packing up, then hiking upwards of 8 miles. Taking down camp involved dismantling the shelter, usually 2 or so tarps tied up to trees with rope. Filling in the firepit, filling in the latrine, then rock and sticking it. Filling up the “reds” (small water jugs). Spilling excessive water from the reds would require you to lift a full “red” above your head 25 times yelling at the top of your lungs “I will not spill the red, this is for my safety (rep number)”. After the camp was taken down, next (still during time limit) was to pack our packs…usually involved rolling our gray mats (what we sit on around the campfire) and our tarps up, strapping to the back of the pack, then filling our packs with our sleeping bags, extra clothes and food bags. Packs usually weighed somewhere around 80 (supposively) pounds, depending on how full the food bag was. In addition, several were assigned to carry the full “reds” (probably between 10-20 lbs) in their hands, and someone with the empty whites and siphon hose. Hiking was what you made of it. I had undiagnosed diabetes, I weighed 115 (when I finally got diagnosed and started insulin, I spiked at just under 150 lbs, 35 lbs weight gain in about 3 months) and was chronically fatigued. My first hike, we need to scale a small rock face, basically about 100 ft of steps. I fell over a few times and threw up. I was reassured by my peers that this was normal, and the counselors would make us continue until we reached our destination, regardless of fatigue level. The counselors gave us a break after 1/2 mile after we finished the rock face climb. After I got some water in me, I felt much much better and we hiked another 5 miles or so, me only falling over once more due to a misstep. I was also taught early on in my program that the biggest key to hiking is packing your pack correctly, putting your heavy stuff on top and making sure the waist straps are above your hips. After this tip, hiking was fairly easy, with the only real problem being overall fatigue from high blood sugar (all food is high in carbs to provide energy, which was not good for me). After hiking, camp set-up, opposite of camp take-down with time-limit. If camp setup or takedown took longer than time limit, rules dictated that we were supposed to re-do it all over again (45 minutes worth of work) but many times, the counselors, if they saw genuine effort and hustle (or if problems out of camper control came to light) they were pretty lienent.

I’m positive I’ve forgotten many things, or certain details are incorrect, it has been 3 years since I attended. If you have any questions as to other stuff, feel free to post them here, or im usually on AIM/AOL at phawktard. Please, if you’re going to contact me on AIM, don’t abuse this. I’m more than willing to answer questions as long as they’re not of rhetorical nature…leave your criticism here on the board.

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A stay at Oakley School

Oakley school in Utah is now closed. It operated under the Aspen Education Group umbrella and later Innerchange. Here is a testimony found on Yelp:

As a previous student there I personally had an awful experience with the school. In regards to my personal experiences and and watching other students experiences. The school for one advertises a whole lot on their website, that frankly doesn’t ever happen. It says, the staff go above the “call of duty” and that house coaches model “excellent social skills”. Which is far from true, based on many experiences, one in particular, when a house coach walked in my room, flung an infraction slip into my face, and when i asked him to talk about it, he proceeded to leave the room saying, “gosh you are entitled”.

Along those lines, they are completely disrespectful in terms of contact with your parents. Previously, it was the night before i was going home on a visit, my father had called left a voicemail asking to talk to me about something related to the DMV, the staff wouldn’t let me call him, and didn’t call him back, delaying my permit for driving by a month. I have also had experiences where i left a very expensive snowboard jacket out, a staff confiscated it due to leaving it out, 2 weeks later the jacket was missing, and appeared that the staff had stolen the jacket, never received an apology or anything for it.

Not to mention the completely degrading process of having staff randomly supersede everyones schedule and completely desecrate your room, when doing a “room search”. The staff will rip all of your stuff out of your closets, unfold everything, take your sheets off, and essentially take apart anything, and have you spend hours cleaning up the mess. The Oakley School also advertises that therapists are constantly taking kids to get milkshakes, or taking students to go on ropes courses, or that there are camping trips to yellowstone national park. All of which in my 12 month stay at Oakley never happened. In regards to what i saw happen to other students, one thing in particular, where the head of school James Myer, denied a student of one of the few rights that an Oakley student does have, to call his lawyer. Regardless, of how awful most Oakley experiences are, the chances are slim, but you could have a great therapist, have your son or daughter be in a dorm full of great house coaches, and ultimately have a very different Oakley experience. As much as i and my parents disliked this experience, if it is decided that your son or daughter is going to a after program, this would be the number one choice for sure.

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Second Nature wilderness program testimony

A few of my friends have. I have been through Second Nature and ASR Base Camp (shut down now I believe) and from what I’ve heard RedCliff might be somewhere in between those two. This is an extremely emotionally charged topic for me.

I am currently researching and investigating these kind of places as well as RTCs and “therapeutic” boarding schools for an on-road expose tour this summer, invovling demonstrations in the towns hosting the programs. If you’ve ever read 1984 you have a toned down version of it already.Where I was, Through humiliation (One girl had to crawl every where she went and cry out loud-a councelor continued to throw a water bottle into the woods and make her crawl and cry to retrieve it while saying things like “If your gonna cry and compain like f***in baby I’m gonna treat you like a baby. this is how you f*** up everyones lives around you Im here to unf*** your life do you f***in understand me?” another kid had to sit in a circle of peers and have human feces be wiped on his face) , forced labor (“You don’t have to do this but if you don’t your going to RTC lockdown) disorientation, and poor physical conditions(inadequate shelter, frostbite, malnutrition, jardia[did I spell that right?]

Reality is completely controled by staff. If they tell you 2and2 is 4 you better not just say it is but you need to believe it, they’ll know. When inspectors came they whould tell us we would never get out basically if we told them anything and everything would be changed. At the top of this pyramid of evil the directors sit on they’re plush thrones rolling in hundreds of thousands (programs often can cost up to ten thousand a MONTH. I cam out of those and the 14month program competely delusional, affraid of everying and very heart. It took a lot of wonderful people and majical experiences to come out of that, experiences of freedom and love, not hate and oppresion.

Now my life is PERFECT and incredulous as that may sound. I work in carpentry and microbiology and live on an intentional community in GA. Above all what helped me is my deep love for nature backpacking and all and the strength I draw from that, and many mystical experience. I found God Or the Universal cosmic mind and he she is with us. Plus my beautiful and wonderful girlfriend who I was seperated from through the experience and now live with. This all happened about 5 years ago. The “therapeutic program” community has hid behind deciet and legal loopholes for many years but they can’t hide from God and we will bring them down with love! We the human race are one divine family and we need to come togather to overwhelm this evil. with love sincere -Max

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Elevations RTC testimony

This testimony was found on Yelp. All rights goes to the author known as Gail S.

Elevations RTC is an impersonal, unprofessional, and substandard institution.

Kindness is the exception there, not the norm. In general, they keep students there for way too long, charge a fortune, and provide very poor therapeutic services and even worse customer service to parents. Their medical staff do not communicate effectively or often. Our therapist provided minimal to no insight and did not win affection or trust from my child who complained that he was often too busy for her and not really present or skilled.

They are generally very slow to respond or follow up on anything and get defensive when you raise issues of concern or frustration, even at the highest administrative levels. Supposedly they have cleaned up their act regarding use of strong physical restraints/intervention when children act out, but this is not what my child reported back to me. Physical restraints are used frequently to address children’s defiance. They did not leave the impression that they were truly interested in the advancement of children’s mental health. It is clearly a lucrative business for them, more than anything else.

There are much better, more compassionate, and sophisticated options in the world of residential treatment centers. Keep looking. Good luck!

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