Tag Archive | Wilderness program

820. Camp E-Kel-Etu

Camp E-Kel-Etu was a wilderness program operating under the ownership of Eckerd Youth Alternatives. The company was founded by Jack and Ruth Eckerd.
In year 2000 a 12 year old boy died crushed to death by a 270 pound so-called counselor trying to restrain the boy. Legal loop holes cleared the employee of possible charges.
Years later not able to live on with the death of her son, the mother died.
In 2011 the camp closed.
It could not have been fun to be there as a teenager.

510. Outback Therapeutic Expeditions

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is a so-called wilderness program operating in Utah. It was founded under anohter name and changed name some years later. The teenagers are forced there. Often they prevent one parent from seeing the children if the other parent has paid for the stay. A father wrote on a meassage board:

My wife had my son kidnapped and sent to Outback Therapeutic Expedition even though I have joint custody. I went to Utah to try to get him back but Outback made it clear that they would require me to file a lawsuit in Utah to get him back. I couldn’t afford to do that. They had cooperated with my wife in hiding him from me in the wilderness and I had no way of finding him.

Outback Therapeutic Expedition knew they were helping to use him as a weapon. There had been no psych eval before he was sent out there, and even when they had one done by their pet Psychologist, the only diagnosis they came up with to keep him was Depression Not Otherwise Specified.

In my opinion, the people at Outback Therapeutic Expedition should be put in Jail.

It cannot be forced to be there and being denied access to a parent.

Update 2017

A former employee – Jason Scott Calder who later was charged with rape, forcible sodomy and forcible sexual abuse had been working at the wilderness program. October 2017 there was no information that he had taken advantage of teenagers at Outback Therapeutic Expeditions but investigation is ongoing.

Read more here: Utah County therapist arrested for alleged sexual abuse of underage girl (Fox 13 news).

If you have information in the case, please contact the Utah County Sheriff’s Office at (801) 851-4010.


458. Eagle Quest wilderness program

According to research done by posters on the message board Fornits, this program was started by people who were connected to the infamous Skyline Journey wilderness program where a boy died.

It means that it seems to be a risky business to send a child to this program.

It cannot be fun to be there as a teenager.


327. Second Nature Wilderness program

Second Nature Wilderness program is marketed as a wilderness therapy program. When the business was largest, It had departments in Georgia, Oregon and Utah. As of 2021 the website only mentions Utah. The wilderness program was founded in 1998.

The students are often forced to attend the program against their wishes. Many are transported to the office by professional muscle persons hired by their parents who collect the teenagers from their own beds using the force and tools necessary for such an pickup.

Each student often has to complete fours phases. If the parents run out of money the teenagers can be kicked out before. Often the program has a referral list of boarding schools they can offer the parents. The program often receive payments from some of the boarding schools and treatment centers when they refer a child.

It cannot be fun to be there as a teenager.


Student testimonies:

2021 Update

A father and a son sued the program claiming that the services offered were not real threapy.

322. Obsidian Trails Outdoor School

Obsidian Trails Outdoor School was a wilderness which used to operate in Oregon. At some point they employed a person involved in the death of another student in a Utah program before he came to this program. Later they lost a student which made the authorities order a stop to the program.

It didn’t sound like a fun place to be as a teenager.


318. Sagewalk

Sagewalk was a wilderness program which became nationwide notorious as result of the American version of the reality show “Brat Camp”. Unfortunately the show made parents believe that this kind of therapy was safe. In the end a 16 year old died one day after he was sent to the wilderness program.

The program shut down. Teenagers who had been there have stated that it was not fun to be there as a teenager on various social media sites.

Online survivors of boot camps for troubled teens play significant role in shutting down degrading abusive programs

313. Catherine Freer Wilderness Program

This wilderness program located in Oregon closed in 2012. Before they closed they managed to lose 3 teenagers. Teens who never survived participating in the hikes the company arranged.

Another teenager was hurt during a trip. A German Television company used the program for one of their shows with disputed outcome.

It didn’t sound like a fun place to be as a teenager.


Update 2020

The founder Rob Cooley died 2018. Further research shows that he had to retire his license due to him engaging in verbal communications that were offensive to certain female staff under his supervision and which violated Oregon Statutes relative to unprofessional conduct and the Ethical Principles of Psychologists precept regarding avoiding harm.


Oregon psychologist Robert Cooley retires license on charges of unprofessional conduct (Psychcrime.org)

270. Adirondack Leadership Expeditions

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions was a wilderness program which was open between 2003 and 2013. Local citizens were worried about the presence of the teenagers as result of some of the teenagers having escaped the program.

The program used muscle men to drag teenagers to the program. Due to the large forest an expedition even got lost and had to be rescued.

A former student writes:

After a five or six hour drive we arrived in the Adirondack mountains. I remember being taken out of the car and up to the room where the director of the program was. About eight staff members were standing around me in the room and they asked me a bunch of questions about how i felt. I didn’t’t’t feel particularly good at the moment and then the drove me out to a forest. It was snowing out and the temperature was -10. They told me to take off my clothes
so I could get into gear. I was outside without clothing for i guess about five minutes and then I was blindfolded and guided through the woods where the staff gave me my course book. I spent my first three nights with two staff before i went to my actual group. When i met the group i was with a bunch of kids in the same situation. During my entire stay in wilderness it was freezing outside. There were some nights it was so cold they had to let us use tents they
use on the base camp of Mount Everest. There was one day I remember it was so
cold i could not move my fingers

It could not have been fun to be there as a teenager.


227. Explorations wilderness program

The Explorations wilderness program is located in Trout Creek, Montana.

The program is marketed as a wilderness program. It is not known how parents bring their children to this program but some kind of approach the program uses instill a kind of anger in the children. Fact is that two runaways attacked a woman and she was unable to return to her normal work as result of this attack.

The two teenagers got years in prison for their act so the minor problems they were sent to the program to have fixed turned out to become much worse and now their future is gone.

It is safe to state that it cannot be fun to be at this program as a teenager. Otherwise such anger would never have been the result.


182. New Horizons for Young Women

New Horizons for Young Women was a wilderness program being operated in Maine. It opened in 2001 and closed down around 2008 when the dangers of wilderness programs had become known to the general public resulting in a period of reduction of profit. It was run by the daughter of a superannuated television host who was sent to the teen prison called CEDU (See an earlier post in our California or Idaho section).

It does not sound fair to drag teenagers out in the wilderness as a program manager just because the program manager had a terrible experience as a teenager. The wilderness in Maine during the winter can be a very unpleasant place to be so it doesn’t sound like a fun place to be as a teenager. Fortunately the program is clsoed and the program manager is busy getting drunk according to various media sources.