Ascent Wilderness Program

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Ascent Wilderness Program was a behavior modification program located near Naples in Idaho. (Not far from Northwest Academy, which is owned by the same company. In the past the program was used as a punishment for detainees from residential facilities.) [1].

It was founded in 1994. It was a part of the CEDU system until 2005, where it closed following CEDU's collaps. It is now reopened under new ownership (Universal Health Services, Inc.)

In 2010 the webpage was redirected to one of the other programs. A human right organization called Heal-online has confirmed that the program is closed for now.

Program Structure

Intake

If the teenager does not want to go or the parents for some reason want to keep the partication a secret, the program offer what they call in-house enrollment, which means that they can arrange for an youth transport firm to get the teenager from his or her own bed in the middle of the night using the means, this line of business is known for. See this article about Teen Escort Companies at Secret Prisons for teens.

Level system

They operate with a level system with 4 levels(phases) in their normal program, but because they work together with other programs they also have a special program targeted against teenagers needing a period of punishment in their normal program.

Number Name Description
I Orientation Phase(Awareness): The teenager is brought to the base camp through either their legal guardians or escorts services. When the teen have arrived at the camp, there will be a simple exam where the teen will be *asked* to strip naked where a camp staff of the same sex will search the body for banned items. Then, the teen will be issued summer or winter camp uniforms and other basic equipments. The teen will then get a picture taken as the "before" and another picture will be taken before graduation as "after". Basic rules and expectations are also given at this time.

All male students are called "Tatonkas", or, buffalos in Native American.
All female students are called "Otters".

The first phase can often be the longest phase depending on the time of the teen's arrival. If the teen is the first of the group, the visit for this teen will most likely be automatically extended from 2 to 3 weeks.
II Pre-Course(Responsibility): This phase centers about building a team out of the teenagers after they are aware of the choices they have been making and are ready to take responsibilities for themselves. Every teen on the team will carry a hiking backpack which will contain 6~8 rounds of wood. An added activity for this phase and phases after is food run. Food run are short hikes for meals with wheel barrels and hand food carriers to a nearby boarding school (Northwest Academy / Boulder Creek Academy). There are usually 2 food runs per day and it is usually performed by 1 group per run everyday
III Course(Experimentation): This phase consist of a two week hike. The teenagers are to work together as a team and break self-imposed limits under constant pressure from staff and the group. Each teen are to carrying their 80lbs+ backpack while pulling a 200lbs+ sled. Hikes are 9~10hrs+ with few short breaks and 2 short meals. Each day begins with camp tear down, and ends with setting up a new camp at the following resting point. Each teen are also to spend three days alone to reflect the experience and do writing assignments once the final point is reached.
IV Transition: The last phase is about repairing the conflicts arising between the detained teenager and the family based on the banishment. The family will participate in a 3 day workshop which ends with climbing the alpine tower. Alpine Tower (On the homepage of the manufactor it is stated that Ascent in Idaho has such a wooden structure). They also has be surrender to so-called transition agreements and write their name and date of graduation on a wooden log before leaving the program. The phase ends with a graduation, followed by the enactment of the direction letter. The direction letter are usually given at the end of the last phase in order to not kill any motivation of the teen to work hard. Teens are usually given a false sense of hope which leads them to think that they get to go home after graduation if they work hard in every aspect of this program. But almost all of the times, the teen are sent to a boarding school.
S Intervention:
Special program for
youth needing punishment
Intervention, or AI (Ascent Intervention) detainees are usually sent to Ascent from other CEDU (or associated) programs as a means of punishment. The AI program is unusually harsh. Detainees spend 3-21 days in the AI program and all of that time is spent at the base camp engaging in exhausting manual labor from sunrise to sunset - tasks such as carrying fallen trees, sawing and splitting said trees, digging trenches, and picking chips of wood out of the grass.

Lingo - explanation of terms used in the program

Escorts

- See Teen Escort Company for complete description

The teenager is brought to the base camp either by their parents, or legal guardians. However, in most of the cases, they are detained and brought to base camp through escort services. Escorts are private agents that will do whatever it takes to bring the teenager from point A to point B. Point A is the location of the teenager(home, boarding school, rehab, hospital, prison...etc) and point B is Ascent. "...whatever it takes to bring the teenager from point A to point B." simply means: phyiscal restraint, neck restraint, handcuffs, and other physical restraints to physically detain the teenager.

Teams

Teams can be anywhere from 4~8 teens of mixed gender. The size of the team are constantly adjusted throughout the entire program. When a teen consistently fails to meet the requirement for the next phase, he/she will be dropped to the next group down. However, often teens that are close to turning 18 years of age will likely reject the program for the duration of the time until they are legal to walk off the camp. But some parents could still extend custody of the child to 21 years of age in order to *force* the teen to remain on camp or sent to other facilities. Teams are usually named after certain animals from a card based on their Native American meanings/attributes.

Activities

Each day the teen are engaged in different physical activities. These activities are: sawing a round, picking up wood chips, plowing snow, towing a tree with a chain, lifting a tree onto a sawhorse with tree carriers, mauling a round, removing tree stumps, digging, carrying food from nearby boarding school(Northwest Academy).

Basic Camp Terms/Rules(Agreements)

"5 minutes"

Every morning, each T.P. are asking for a volunteer to get up and get boots. The teen will retrieve the boots for all the teens in the T.P. Once everyone lies still, the staff will yell "5 minutes". At this time, the teen will do the following with-in five minutes to avoid punishment of carrying everything for the entire day: wearing pants(required to be taken off before sleeping), where the ski-mask correctly, putting on the boots, rolling up the sleeping bag, rolling up the insulating material, and making sure everything is plumb and square before leaving the T.P. and entering into the check-in circle in a clockwise formation.

"Check-In"

Before leaving the T.P. area or entering into the meal tent, all teens that are entering are required to do a "check-in". While in a circle, a student will raise hand with 2 fingers up in the air for permission to initiate. Then, they will yell out the following in sync... "Tatonkas/Otters checking in! One, Two, Three...(# of people in the circle)..., then if the staff is satisfied with the loudness and cleanness of their check-in, he/she will reply "Tatonkas/Otters", and they will yell back "Tatonkas!/Otters! 3!(or # of people in the circle). Each group gets 3 chances, if group fail, the meal will be eaten outside the tent. During winter, temperature can reach -20s, and warm food will instantly get cold once the camper have stepped out of the tent.

Water

The Nalgene bottle (which is to be carried on the right hand at all times) contains 32oz of water. Camper is expected to drink a full bottle during breakfast, before lunch, during lunch, before dinner, and during dinner. Each of these 5 drinking periods are to be performed before its due period. Camper must finish the water before entering into the next activity. Camper may not drink the portion of the next activity even if he/she has finished the required amount of that period. Any missing portion of water are to be refilled before moving on to the next activity. Camper who lost the Nalgene bottle will be temporary given a substitute such as a pitcher with a cup. Camper who lost the pitcher with a cup will be given a pot with no handles with a cup. Camper will be given opportunities to earn back their Nalgene bottle by performing special tasks.

Equipment

Duffle bag, a Nalgene water bottle, rain gear, and other basic items for the teen camper.

Summer:
Winter:

  • Cap, fleece, t-shirt, shorts, pants, gloves, work gloves, and summer boots.
  • Ski-mask, winter jacket, fleece, snow boots, sock linings, winter socks, t-shirt, shorts, gloves, work gloves, and water proof gloves.

External Links

Info pages

Survivor groups and stories

Forums

References