A stay at the Thayer Learning Center

This testimony was found on the message board belonging to HEAL-online. All rights goes to the author

(Too long of an intro?) Skip down to the time I arrived and read from there.
One summer day I was alerted to headlights coming up the driveway, little did I know what was about to happen.

I looked out the window in my bedroom and saw headlights pulling into the driveway, this is unusual as my family at the time lived in a remote ranch area with only a few neighbors nearby also it was around 4:00 Am in the morning.

I run into the house and alert my parents that there is a vehicle pulling into the driveway (my memory is a little blurry so bear with me) my parents get up quickly and pretend to not know what’s going on, I go to the back door to see who was coming up the driveway and my dad rushes to the front door of the house and blocks the entrance, as I make my way to the back room where the back door is located to my surprise, a transporter is waiting outside the door, or blocking it, (unable to remember which) then another transporter comes from the other side blocking me in (he came in the front door) They do this boxing in method just in case the subject (me) decided to try and run.

So we’re all in the back room, one of the transporters tells me to put on my shoes, so I comply after asking what was going on I’m very confused at this point, but my body is in no condition to run, I literally looked like one of those Ethiopian children you see in pictures, ribs sticking out, all skin a bones.

Anyway, I am transported to their car and I am told to get in the back seat, passenger side, so I comply.

I remember looking out the door before they shut it and my mother telling me that I am going away for awhile, I think her and I both cried.

The door was shut and my parents and the transporters talk briefly and away we go to the Reno airport to catch a plane. I was mostly quiet for the trip, I do remember asking one question “Where am I going?” I got a brief “Boarding school comment” from one of the transporters, So I thought to myself, well, I guess a little adventure couldn’t hurt, since I was withering away anyway. Bear in mind I had had no sleep the night before, and my adrenaline and curiosity was at peak so I was not able to sleep at all during the trip.

We arrive at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and board a plane, so I use the restroom real quick and away we go.

Our plane departs and we land in Las Vegas to switch flights to Kansas City, MO.

We had to wait for a little while for our flight to prepare, so while we were waiting one of the transporters (shortish white guy, brown hair)starts to play some sort of video poker close to where we were sitting, I think the native guy asks me if I would like to have something to eat, a slice of pizza or something and he tells me “this is the last time for awhile that you will have an opportunity to have this kind of food” But I respectfully decline his offer as I was not hungry. (depressed people have trouble eating)
Both guys were fairly nice to me.

The time comes to board our flight, so we start heading for the terminal to board the plane, to be honest I kinda felt like a bad ass because I had two guys who looked like body guards standing around me at all times.

We board the plane and lift off to Kansas City International Airport.

We arrive, get off the plane and walk to the rent-a-car booth, we head to the rental car and start to drive out of the city to the tiny town of Kidder.

As we pull up to the facility, I see the main building and feel sort of relived “this place doesn’t look so bad” I say to myself, that is until we rounded the corner to the other side of the building. Fear strikes me in my mind as we pull up to a fenced off area “The Beach” we called it, to see 3 drill Sargents in black/white camo BDU wear and big round DSGT hats on the inside of the fence.

We enter the fenced off area and immediately after entering my intake started.

I was yelled at, screamed at, billed in the face.

They started going over making me learn the 10 general orders of the program.

every time I messed up they would make me run a down and back to the end building and back. I eventually got tired of this and got a wild hair and got a little disobedient, as soon as those words left my mouth I was on the ground with 3 drill Sargents tying me into pretzel, one of them sat on my back I think it was DSGT “H1”, while one of the other started to bend my legs up and backwards, DSGT “H2” bending my spine in the opposite direction it is suppose to go. Now bear in mind I am very frail due to the condition my body was in, I was so afraid they were going to break my back and I was in a lot of pain, so I pretended to have a seizure to get them to stop, I rolled my eyes into the back of my head and started jerking my body around as if I were having a seizure.

I think I scared them because they got off me immediately and let me lay there for awhile, deciding what they should do next.

They decided to wrap up my intake and took me into the building, they told me to take off all my clothes, one of the JR. Staff, A cadet that was about to finish the program turned on the shower and I was instructed to get in it, everyone still yelling at me of course, but not interacting with me physically. So after that is over, I am in a state of shock at this point so I don’t remember much after that point besides going down to requisitions and getting a bin full of clothes and other items I needed as a Cadet and they placed me in Bravo bay. That day my entire bay was punished because I wasn’t able to do a single pushup, due to them tearing a muscle in my elbow, also I had very little muscle mass if any at all.

That night I fell into catatonic state, I’m not sure how long I was in that state, but all I remember was looking up at the camera and the ceiling.

Eventually, I start to get stronger and learn the ropes.

A short while later my legs begin to swell like balloons, I kept putting it on my sick report, but it took about a week, maybe longer to get it looked at by an EMT, during that week I was unable to run or do the exercises properly, the Sargents kept making comments about my legs to each other “no wonder he can’t run, his legs are swelled up like balloons” and laughing to each other making jokes and nasty comments, at one point one of the Sargents put his boot on my chest and let his weight down on top of me, looked me in the eyes and smiled evilly, knowing there was nothing I could do about it.

When my family rep finally took me to the hospital the doctors ran tests on my legs to see if I had any blood clots, they wanted to do more tests and keep me over night, but the EMT at the time (I’m not really sure she was even qualified to put a band-aid on an injury) threw a fit over it, so I wasn’t able to get checked out further. (Which I should have because my legs were swelled up, they were huge!) They ended up putting me on no lower body P.T and called it good, basically told me to drink water and get over my drama. The Sargent that stepped on my chest, ignored the doctor sticker on my canteen and made me do lower body P.T anyway. That guy was mean.

I wanted to tell the doctors to help me and that they were abusing us, but I was so afraid of what they would have done to me when I got back to camp.
I suppose it has something to do with Stockholm syndrome. I think they actually used Stockholm syndrome and fear as a cover, they has us zombified, terrified and broken.

Eventually, I finally got stronger and was able to do all of the exercises, they became more of an annoyance when the pain tolerance built up and a fit body made the constant nonstop exercise easier. I kind of want to say I just got used to it, but I’m not sure if that would be the right words to use.

I want to go over a list here to tell what I witnessed and experienced at Thayer Learning Center

During my stay, I noticed that they broke 3 cadets wrists.
They lied to parents about injuries related to abuse. One particular Sargent there who was the wrist breaker was promoted for his extreme behavior modification techniques including the breaking of bones.

One day in the blistering heat we had to bear crawl everywhere we went, so when we went to the chow hall, and gym,(all separate buildings from male boot camp) the skin on our hands literally melted off on the sidewalk, everyone got bad blisters all over their hands.

Certain Cadets were singled out by Staff and Cadets, and were bullied more often than others. One cadet in particular got restrained at least once or twice a week. That I was witness to.

Lots of Cadets developed a foot fungus due to the latrine floor being covered in bacteria, we also did not have the privilege of having toilet seats on our toilets.

We slept in a basement with bugs and spiders everywhere, the walls leaked, so when it rained the boot camp basement bays Alpha and Bravo became partially flooded and our sleeping bags, clothes would get wet.

At one point during the program I tried to break my ankle so that I could escape the torment, so I ran up the catwalk in the gym when the Sargent wasn’t looking and jumped off, I landed on my feet and fell forward, as soon as one of the Sargents realized what I did, he immediately restrained me, pushing my neck into the floor, I was unable to breath and began screaming “Sir! I can’t breath” through my crushed vocal cords and windpipe.
All he said was “STOP SAYING CAN’T!!” I thought I was going to die, I quit trying to breath and I was going to try and let myself slip out of consciousness, but at about the point I was passing out he got off of me. A cadet mentioned it later and said the sounds I was making sounded like I was being killed.
I was placed in isolation for a week or so I can’t remember, and my neck was messed up for about a year after that, I think he did something to damage my spine, or the tendons in my neck when he restrained me.

When parents would show up, they would call “code white” over the radio, so the Sargent/Staff on duty would be aware that they were being watched, so they had us sit down and read, or do other activities in an attempt to keep the parents from knowing exactly what was going on there, to keep their horror house under wraps.

We were woken up in the middle of the night to exercise outside on the beach, or inside. Those were what we called “moon burns”

We had to sleep on 1/2 Inch thick green mats on top of the concrete floor.

When I finally got to residency, we were allowed one phone call per week with our parents, whenever I tried telling my mother that we were being abused, my family rep would switch off my phone, and take over the phone call (all of our calls were monitored live)

All of our letters were screened and judged according to a cadets psychological profile.
whited out, or edited, not sent at all.

Every weekend we were allowed to sit on the concrete floor and watch a movie, we often had to watch the same movie over and over again as a means of psychological tactics. (“Aladdin” was favorite of the staff)

We had to listen to “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and repetitive motivational cassette tapes repeatedly over and over again, as means of psychological tactics.

Cadets who “acted up” were forced to sit in isolation for weeks at a time in a tent with a bright light, listening to the same motivational tapes over and over again, NOTE: they started putting cadets in empty bays instead of the tent for some reason.

If we were outside and a car drove by on the isolated road in front of the main building, we were instructed to face towards the building for who knows what reason.

I witnessed a Sargent punch a cadet in the face.

Whenever a cadet was restrained, the Sargent or JR. Staff would yell out grenade, which then we had to dive on the ground, and bury our face in our elbows and kick our legs as to not be witnesses to the event of the bodily assaults.

One female cadet in particular was made to stay there for years and be subject to the owners abusive drones we called Sargents.
I personally witnessed cadets urinate and a defecate themselves.

cadets who acted up, we were forced to mock them with a made up cadence all together that included their name to bully and shame them into obedience.

A cadet died there due to their neglect and abuse.

How these programs continue to flourish is anyone’s guess
Which is very concerning.

The only positive thing I have to say about this program is, had I not been sent, I may have died due to severe depression I was not eating and my body was withering away.

Basically, I was broken down completely, but never built back up.

These places are abusive, plain and simple.

Do not send your kids to these places.

I am a survivor and assure you that everything I have mentioned is true and correct and not exaggerated in any way to my knowledge.

You have my permission to post this on your website, I wish to remain Anonymous and am also using a VPN out of fear that the owners will retaliate against me in my adult life should they come across this posting even though the place has since shut down.

A death occured at the boot camp and the bad press coverage forced the owners to close. However, they were never prosecuted for their part in the tragic death



Ironwood Maine testimony

Ironwood Maine was founded with help from employees who used to work at Turn-about Ranch in Utah. The model they started out with was very similar to the model used at Turn-about Ranch. On entry levels the teenagers are confined to stone circles until they “confess” enough so it looks like their placement was well-deserved justifying that they were sent to the program regardless if these confessions are real or not. This is a testimony found on a wordpress blog:

This place is literally he’ll on earth. I am now 27 years old and still have night terror about getting woken up at 4am and dragged out of my home and locked in a white van to be taken away 12 hours away from philly to Maine at this camp where you are surrounded by 30 miles of woods in every direction, which me and 2 other kids Dave and Tyler escaped from after 3 months and finally earning back my shoes because they give you size 15 boots and constantly watched while in impact which is small circle you have to stay in from 6am – 9pm and get a blank notebook and a pen and plain white rice and an apple to eat during the day because you have to earn the right to eat better food and condiments, I watched staff member like Dylan throw a Jewish kid in a thorn bush/p>

I heard about girls (brianna) who were sexually taken advantage of by staff members, and Jeremy was the worst psycho staff member of them all and Gordon has some serious anger issues as well although he may seem nice at times they all have an evil agenda and are power hungry to feel some satisfaction of putting kids through hell and using them as free laborers to make their “residental treatment center” look better, they only care about money given by rich parents like mine and refused to refund them when I escaped their facility and chose to spend the next 6 months in juvie until the judge said either my parents have to come get me or they will release me on the street as an emancipated youth. my name is justin and if you have been to that evil and sick facility it will haunt you for the rest of your life as it has caused me permanent sleep disorders.

I was sent there because I got a tattoo across my chest when I turned 17 and my parents though it look satanic so they sent me there, the staff members read every letter you send and if you say anything negative about their facility they will refuse to send them, I did not receive medical attention when I was sick with pneumonia when I first arrived as well as any bandages for my new tattoo. you have to earn a mattress then earn a pillow when you get there and sleep on wooden logs. you are allowed 1 shower every 3 days and hand wash your clothes with a metal board and detergent , you build rock walls in a fashion similar to the movie holes.

If you have any question feel free to ask and parent don’t ruin your kids by sending them to places like this grow some balls and raise your children instead of pay someone to do it for you. otherwise don’t be a parent. I have 2 beautiful children now and couldn’t imagine anyone treating them the way they do especially since the staff members don’t have kids themselves. this place needs to be shut don’t and sued immediately, I can’t believe it still exists!!!

A man who worked at Ironwood Maine was arrested on charges of child sex assaults.


1991 cali kid about his time at Majestic Ranch in Randolph, UT

I went to majestic for almost a year around 91.

It was indeed a prison. The school was not accredited and my time there made it impossible to graduate high school. staff had no training – we had to live on 8 cents per person per meal- i saw “Dave” the therapist once during my stay – lots of hard labor- bloody take downs – relentless solitary confinement – zero contact with parents – constant pressure to become a mormon – the towns people called us devil worshippers – when i came home i could stare at the wall for hours, so conditioned the long hours of boredom.

There was no attempt at helping us to be better people. That place was a cash cow for the Pearts and it screwed up alot of kids. I was there with Harold mentioned above. He was caught molesting the houseparents one year old baby and sent back to the little kids house. I often wondered what happened to him later in life. He was the kind of kid you would imagine becoming a serial killer, unbelievable to hear they made him staff.

I have lots to say about Majestic but no one ever asked. Terrible place that was traumatic and tough to get over. Made my transition into adulthood harder not easier. Pointless abusive shithole. there main goal was to keep everyone there til 18 and many got stuck in that trap regardless of theyre level of so called rehab. It was known that you will not leave. My insurance ran out so I was luckily sent home after 11 months. It was really scary and I had no way to have uncensored conversation with my family.

I was there with – Ross Kulkin, Jason Labansatt, doogie howser, Paul Smith, big Clint, Matt Hendrix, Nate from Seattle, Rob, marine wannabe John. and yes Harold. One kid was only 6 years old. fat Jeff was the program director. Dave was the nonexistant counselor.

The craziest part is my dad still doesnt believe me when i tell him about that place.


A testimony from a former student at Academy at Dundee Ranch

Hiii, my name is Mary. I was enrolled in Dundee Ranch Academy from November of 2000 to November of 2001.

I entered the Academy when it was just started, to explain how new the program was at the time I entered, when we numbered our clothes with our initials and numbers (The boys having 1-100 & the girls having 200-300), I was number 209.

I left approximately a month before the place was torn to shit.

I don’t know how much any of you read the plethera of articles that was not only in many local newspapers, but in Time magazine, The Costa Rican Embassy came into the property and proceeded to tell all the students that this program could no longer keep them, and that they were allowed to leave. The students proceeded to tear apart what was once a hotel- turned into the program. They kicked down walls, some ran down the streets into Costa Rica, others were having sex in what was left in the dorms (obviously unprotected, because how many WWASP programs have condom dispensers?). The parents were contacted soon thereafter, but some had problems getting their kids because of the chaos that was going on (i.e. they didn’t know where the fuck their kids were).

Out of the approximately 300 kids that have left Dundee Ranch Academy, I am almost positive that I am the only one that has been completely drug free since. And by drug free, I mean completely. No alcohol, no drugs, no cigarettes, nothing. I’ve made the lifetime commitment to become straightedge, and am still standing strong.

Once I left the program, I tried to keep in contact with some of my friends that were in the program through e-mail and phone contact. My first friend who actually came to visit me ended up smoking weed with my other friend who lives here, and we have had very little contact since.

Another one came to visit me about 6 months ago or so, and because getting to my house is hella difficult, we opted to meet downtown, and go to lunch. She had us meet her in the parking lot of some sleezy motel, and the van she was driving was surrounded by hella creepy looking dudes. She asked if I could wait 10 minutes so she could go inside and smoke weed with them. I didn’t know what to say, so I allowed her to.

We then went out to coffee, and after about an hour there, she asked if she could go hangout with those dudes again and then meet me at my house at around 12 or 1 in the nite. I finally called it the last straw and told her she was not welcome in my house if she didn’t come with me right now.

She did not end up coming home with me that night.

Dundee Ranch was the shadiest place ever. Despite the fact that you couldn’t look at members of the opposite sex, it happened all the time. None of the staff members spoke english, and most of the Family Reps weren’t qualified for the job. They were endoctorinating the students into the Mormon religion through seminary classes in the morning. When my mother inquired about this, they lied to her and told her that they weren’t teaching any kind of religion in the school.

They had observation placement, in which they would make us lay on the ground with our hands behind our back and our chins to the cold hard ground. I might add, the ground was horribly filthy, plus there were bugs crawling all over it. It was absolutely disgusting.

Many people didn’t believe me about the entire OP thing, or the physical restraint that broke many student’s arms, including mine. Some still don’t. While my mother was here for PC1, we took this photograph of what happens in Obserbvation Placement.

Obserbvation Placement example

My mother pulled me when I was at level 2 with 200 points.

I don’t really know what else to say. I think I mumbled a lot about some dumb shit. Oh well.

It’s pretty awesome to find this on livejournal. It’s a shame that a lot of kids don’t know about it.

After the raid the owner renamed it Pillars of Hope. Later it operated under names like Teen Discovery Costa Rica. It remains marketed here in 2017

Stacy R. at Olympus Academy

This information was found of Yelp. The founder of the program previously tried to start something in Kansas. In 2015 two girls ran away from the facility. It is unclear whether they are closed now as it is stated on some sites. All rights belong to the original author known as Sarah R.

Read the review from Savannah ! 100% honest.

Don’t pay $10000. To walk in the door and have your insurance drained because it wasn’t anything I was promised. Check with licensing in the state of Utah. Be sure to ask them for legal minimums on therapy (1hr a week when I checked). Background checks on EVERYONE search the family name for history of their ownership of these high profit facilities.

They have managed to have at least one bad google review removed even though it was 100% accurate. Why do they jump from facility ownership if they are so good at helping these kids? Wouldn’t they just grow their successful business? We were shorted meds when sent home, zero medical records after requests from all dr’s involved and the “Dr” used to bill insurance NEVER even met my son and he never did see anymore than a lcsw because they don’t (at the time) have anyone with true medical training and a degree to help these kids.

The parent advocates are paid on commission by the facilities!! Think about that.. They also only tell you “what you need to know” because they don’t want to scare you. Don’t do it to yourself or your child. There’s a reason most of these facilities are in Utah and change hands so frequently.


A stay at Wellspring Academies

Wellspring Academies were a scam sold by Aspen Education Group. Fact is that parents make the food their children eat. So it is the parents who are able to change the diet and the exercise, their children do. Please invite your children along you when you exercise. Eat the healthy food you want your children to eat. Skip the candy and alcohol which makes you fat as a parent. Be model for the behavior and habbits you want your children to have. Aspen Education Group closed the academies when enough children were put through them showing that the concept did not work.

Okay so I’ve decided to tell my story about fat camps/schools.

When I was fifteen years old, I was very obese. I’m not even 5 feet tall, and I was near 275 pounds. A lil’ doughball. I needed to lose weight, bad. Not just for looks, but for my actual health. I’d been put on diets for years, to no avail. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem all failed me.

So one day, my parents threatened me with boarding school. They said that if I didn’t somehow, someway get myself whipped into shape, they’d send me to someone who would. That “someone” was the system that was Wellspring Academy.

Before I knew it – literally less than a week after my parents first threatened me with the idea of it, I was sent for 10 months to this tiny school of 45 students, nestled in the mountains of Brevard, North Carolina. The school campus itself was a rented space from a summer camp. The cafeteria sat at the very top of an impossibly steep hill, with the girl’s dorms and boy’s dorms slightly further down the hill. At the bottom of the hill was a lake, used a total of twice for activities. About half a mile down the way was a tennis court and open field used for sports.

When I arrived, I was placed in a room in the girls’ dorm that, at most, should have fit two people. Instead, four bunk beds – 8 people – were stuffed into this tiny space in the log cabin. Our stuff was piled to the ceilings; storage cabinets simply did not cut it because of how small the space was. What storage we did fit in there was overflowing with clothes, clean and dirty alike. It was near impossible to walk; eventually, though, we managed to clear a path of downtrodden clothes from the innermost beds to the doorway and bath.

Our ceiling was infested with spiders. Just before my arrival at this camp, a nest of spiders made the ceiling above my particular bunk its home, and my roommates warned me, saying, “We have no idea when they’ll hatch, but the staff won’t be bothered to remove them. Just pray every night.”

That was just the very, very, very tip of the iceberg of hellishness Wellspring had to offer.

When I finally put my stuff in whatever place I could find for it, the staffmember giving me my initial tour marched me up to the cafeteria (not-so-fondly called The Caf). There, they weighed me for the first time as the other students ate their lunches (and watched on). I weighed in at 275, and my parents, who were still there, gasped and began to cry. It was not a very good first impression on the other students. They discussed, at length, with the staff how I was “highly irresponsible” about taking my various (misprescribed) medications, and that the staff should watch me like a hawk to ensure I took it, before they left for good.

Little did they know that no special instruction was needed for the staff to watch me incessantly. The entire student base was constantly monitored in every aspect. The sexes were not allowed to touch at any time (not even for high-fives and the like, unless during our Team Sports period). But more on that later.

I’m going to go, now, into the extensive details of the routine they had us adhere to on a military-level strictness.

At 6AM, we were woken up each day to walk, rain or shine, around the tennis court at the bottom of the hill. I remember only two occasions when this walk was changed, and that was when there was a foot of snow blocking access to the tennis court. Instead, they moved us to the Caf, where we were made to move all of its tables so that we could walk there instead.

At 7:30AM, the students would be ushered into the Caf for their first meal. Before you could even get into the Caf, the staff checked you for three things: your food-monitoring journal, your water-bottle, and your pedometer (you have to hit 20,000 steps a day, or you were given food penalties the next day).All of your food is handed to you through a small visor on the kitchen door, so that you can’t even DREAM of going in to steal something. You had zero options for the main course of your meal. You either ate it or left it, even if you had deadly food allergies – you’d just skip that particular meal staple. The only freedom allotted to you at mealtimes was the choice in fruit or salad bar. Even then, they watched you to make sure you did not take too much. This lack of choice often resulted in .. nontraditional food combinations, such as dumping four spoonfuls of Splenda into your skim milk to give it some taste, or smothering your egg whites in ketchup to cover their awful taste. [Important Note: the Wellspring diet consists of a total of less than 20 grams of fat per day. By comparison, the average American man takes in 93 grams of fat daily and a woman takes in 66g.] Everything you eat at Wellspring is written down extensively in what we called the SMJ, a fat and calorie-monitoring journal. This journal was checked every day by your therapists to ensure you reached your 20g-or-less goal.

At 8:15AM, school started. This consisted of only the bare core classes, as the majority of Wellspring staff were fitness trainers, not teachers. The teachers were minimally trained at best, and not at all branching from the four core subjects of Math, History, English and Science.

At 1PM, you had lunch. Same situation as stated for breakfast. Before you get in, you are checked for your SMJ, water bottle, and pedometer. If you do not have one of these, you were moved to the end of the line for food, and received less.

At 2PM, you had Team Sports. Here, you were moved to the tennis court for any variety of teamwork-related sports; rugby, football, tennis, hockey, dodgeball, and even pickleball were included in this class’ curriculum. (I remember in the spring, our head fitness trainer had us enter in a dodgeball competition against regional college teams; it was mandatory. We got second place, but not without a lot of shame along the way.)

At 3:45PM, we were given our only daily break. We had 15 minutes to shower and catch our breath before we continued classes, at:

4PM. We finished up our schoolwork at this time, including any “elective” class we may have taken, which was limited to either singing or playing guitar. Again, there wasn’t much by way of teaching skills here. It was not their focus.

At 5:30, you had dinner. Again, same rules. Have your stuff, or have your meals docked.

At 7PM, we had our final exercise of the day. This was weight training, where we had to cycle through various weightlifting machines. It was honestly the most relaxing part of our day, and the only time the entire time that we were allowed to use our MP3 players or watch the single TV mounted on the wall (though most shows were blocked). We were not allowed cell phones, MP3 players with screens, television, laptops, or any other form of electronics on campus – they were confiscated at the gate. Therefore, this hour of weight training was our only connection to the outside world. (I remember that on April 27, 2011, I received a call from the head office that my family was involved in the Super Tornado outbreak that affected much of Alabama. I had no idea it even happened until the office told me.)

At 8PM, we were finally let loose. Sometimes, if the staff were feeling generous, they would allow us a “dessert”; usually it involved two dry, flavorless rice cakes, but it was something, and we enjoyed what we could. We would also take this time to do any homework, as we had no other time the rest of the day to do any. Many of us would use this time to shower as well, if we did not make it in time during our earlier 15 minute break at 3:45.

At 10PM, we had lights out. Staff would periodically come into your room during the night to ensure that you were asleep. You couldn’t even read with your own personal night light – heads down or bust.

So that was our schedule, every single day for 11 months. On top of this, there were many more regulations that were enacted, effectively making this place no more than a military camp or adolescent prison.You never once left campus, unless one of the two trips during the school year to have your abilities tested at a restaurant ordering for yourself. As I fleetingly mentioned before, the sexes were not allowed to touch. If caught touching for any reason, the people involved would be put in what was called the “5 Foot Rule”. It’s exactly as it sounds; you could not be within 5 feet of the other gender for the rest of the day (or however long the staff deemed appropriate). You could not leave your bedroom after lights out, nor could you be in possession of any electronic devices. If you were caught doing something outside the rules multiple times, there was even the risk of solitary confinement. If you were put in what we called “solo”, you were placed inside a tent outside the head office building. Inside would be a sleeping bag and a stationary bike. The staff would bring you your bare minimum meals and your schoolwork; you would not leave that tent until your “solo” time was done. Your only contact, outside of the two ten-minute phone calls a week, was hand-writing letters to people, who could either hand-write back or send emails to the head office, who would read the email before printing it and delivering it to you at bedtime (good job surviving, have a letter).

There was also an incredibly odd “rewards” system for exceptional teachers’ pets. It was a ranked hierarchy, starting with no privileges, working your way up based on grades, kindness to the staff and even athletic capability. I don’t remember the names, but the rewards went something like this for the ranks:

  • Rank 0 – Two ten-minute phone calls a week home. Never leave campus.
  • Rank 1 – Two fifteen-minute phone calls a week home. Never leave campus.
  • Rank 2 – Two twenty-minute phone calls a week. Once a week, if the staff feel up to it, you could go for an hour to the local library and use the internet.
  • Rank 3 – Thirty-minute phone calls, at a time you could choose as opposed to the set time for lower ranks. Library trip.
  • Rank 4 – Any-time phone calls, for as long as you want. Library trip. Ability to petition the front office for either two-day vacation home or a single meal out at a place of your choice (still monitored, of course).
  • Rank 5 – Ability to apply for a part-time job if willing. Same perks as Rank 4.

I never was able to make it past Rank 2 in this hierarchy because I was not athletic enough to impress my coaches. On top of this, my Asperger’s made socialising difficult at best, standoffish at worst – the coaches often thought I was being defiant or obstinate when I truly did not know better. Because of these reasons I never advanced further.

Even after this huge post, I know for a fact I am missing so much of what happened there. But there just simply isn’t a way to describe so much of the emotional baggage you take on when you enter those camps or schools. It’s just exhausting, down to your bones and your soul.

Not to mention incredibly unrealistic. I have checked up with almost every one of the students I attended Wellspring with. Because of their almost “Utopian” ideals for a diet, when presented with the real world, every single one of us floundered. It was downright impossible to have under 20 grams of fat in a day, and even harder to exercise 3 times. Muscles atrophied and our weight ballooned back to where it was before we entered the school, if not more. I was extremely privileged in that when I returned home, I was assigned a personal trainer and dietitian. Even with her help, I went back up to that 275 incredibly fast. And I lost all hope. “If even that hellhole could not cure me of my obesity, nothing can.” Eventually, I had to have weight-loss surgery just to get back into a semi-healthy range. Even the show that was on national TV filming me and my fellow students came off-air due to lack of funding and undesirable results; that show was called Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back.

My point is this: under no conditions should you consider these places. No matter what the (terribly inaccurate) BMI scale says, do not even think it. These places are expensive – a single semester at Wellspring cost as much (or more) than a semester at Harvard. They are expensive, they are miserable, they are traumatizing, and they are ineffective. And I have the statistics and testimonies to back this up. No matter how desperate you may be for yourself, or for your child, to lose weight, this is not the way to do it. Save yourself the time, the money, the emotional investment this place takes on you. Find a better way. Please.

writing this was extremely stressful on me and i need a breather. ugh..

The original testimony on Tumblr

Moving on after at stay at Eagle Ranch Academy

This testimony was made by a former student known as “decline to state”

I was a student at eagle ranch academy for 5 months. I am now an adult trying to make something of myself.

Looking back on the experience, i cant believe these people are still in business. The staff uses threats or force to get things done if anyone defies them. The psychiatrist that shows up once a month or so doesnt think twice about putting still-developing young adults on serious medications that arent used for fully grown adults today. The food is an unhealthy mess, I myself gained 50 pounds in my 5 months, its been 2 years since i arrived there and I’m still struggling to lose the weight. any student who resists the program is ‘staffed,’ a process involving psychological torture on a daily basis, in order to ‘break’ the unruly students spirit. I’m writing this for a number of reasons.

  1. so that parents dont blow away their life savings on this sham of a program
  2. so that teens and young adults dont have to go through a drug induced brainwashing
  3. I still cant sleep sometimes