Sagewalk

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Sagewalk is a wilderness therapy program based near Bend, Oregon, which specializes in behavior modification.

They offer two types of programs [1]

  • A Preparation/ Youth Transition Program with a stay of 30 days or more.
  • A Family Reunification Program with a stay of 60 days or more.

The program is now a part of Aspen Education Group.

The target group is adolescent males and females, ages 13-17, with a history of moderate to severe emotional and behavioral problems, low self-esteem, academic underachievement, substance abuse and family conflict [2]. They offer the parents of the detainees the services of a teen escort company if needed [3]

Daily life

Based on the TV-show Brat Camp and survivor testimonies a typical day is described as follows [4]. Strict time limits are enforced in order to stress and cause breakdown on the detainees.

  • 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 fire pit. If everyone does not have this done by 5 minutes, everything gets put back the way it was, the detainees has do it again until every thing is completed in the 5 minute slot.
  • Hygiene follows. This involves filling a cup with water and soap, taking a rag and washing your face, hands and feet. The time limit is 8 or 10 minutes. Counselors checks the detainees. Also here it has to be done again if all has not been checked within the time limit.
  • Breakfast is next - usually 20 minute time limit. Breakfast consists of cold oats, with water, powdered milk, brown sugar and raisins. If a fire is going, the detainees has the option of heating their oats, although only a few did so. Detainees are required to eat at least 2 cups of oats, and one quart of water, both checked off.
  • After this, the detainees need to clean their cup, which involved taking making mud and scrubbing the inside of the cup with it and rinsing it out until it was spotless. If everyone do not have their food eaten and cups cleaned by time limit, then spices would not be available for later meals. All food that is prepared is required to be eaten, regardless if the detainees feel full or the food doesn't taste good. Some detainees vomited because of this (On the Brat Camp show, Nick vomited in episode one).
  • After this follows some sort of planned activity, gathering firewood, some sort of group therapy, day-hiking (food and water only, no packs).
  • Lunch is 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 isn't required, but is only taken away if the group is misbehaving (never taken away if the detainees are hiking or going to hike).
  • Afternoon activities are performed, sometimes with "homework", coursework that focused on goals, aspirations, management skills, etc. or more firewood collecting, therapy, etc.
  • Dinner is usually at sunset or so (preceded by hygiene again). Dinner is rice and lentils, dehydrated refried beans and tortillas, burritos, or Macaroni night. Since Rice and Lentils take at least 20 minutes to cook on the fire, time limit can be either 40 minutes or 60 minutes depending on behavior (longer time limit for better behavior).
  • While food is cooking, the detainees are required to write a page in their journals. The detainees also have a moment of silence.
  • After dinner is also the time when most of the group therapy occur. The counselors encouraged the detainees to express grievances, whether it be with Sagewalk, the counselors themselves, other detainees, or just problems in general. Usually, this either allowed for compromise and conflict resolution, or sometimes flared tempers.
  • Food is then eaten, then cups cleaned, food bags put away and the detainees are dismissed to bed.
  • Boots is taken from the detainees before sleep in order to prevent runways.

In the news

In 2005 the program hosted the TV-series Brat Camp, where 9 adolescents were held captive in order to entertain the viewers [5]. The show received varying reactions [6] [7]. The show pictured the program easier than it is in reality [8]. Another graduate reflects on his outcome [9].

September 1, 2009 is was reported that a 16 year old boy died while being detained at Sagewalk. A police investigation is pending and the permit to operate on the land of the Bureau of Land Management is suspended while waiting for the outcome of the investigation [10]. September 16, 2009 it was accounced that the program had suspended all operations after a raid at the Redmond office of the program by the police as part of the investigation [11]. October 20 the an article states that the investigators called the operations of the program for "reckless" [12]

Notable alumnis

  • Freddy McConnel, composer [13]

External links

Info Pages

Survivor Group

Message boards

References

  1. Program info, Program homepage
  2. Is Sagewalk right for my child, Program homepage
  3. Enrollment contract - page 6
  4. Typical day at Sagewalk (Survivor statement on fornits)
  5. Farewell to the sadistic pleasures of Brat Camp,(Sam Anderson)
  6. Brat Camp, Snipeme.com 2005
  7. These kids face harsh reality, by Joanna Weiss, The Boston Globe, august 10, 2005)
  8. TROY PROKOPOWICH, The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, May 9 2006
  9. I Graduated From "Brat Camp"
  10. Teen Dies At Wilderness Camp, KPTV.com, Fox12 Oregon, September 1, 2009
    Boy dies at Sagewalk, a thread on Fornits webforum
  11. Redmond wilderness school suspends operations, Central Oregon,s News Leader Online, September 16 2009
  12. Investigator calls wilderness school reckless in teen’s death, by Erin Golden, Bend Bulletin, October 20 - 2009
    Another death last week at an Aspen program, a thread on Fornits webforum
  13. McConnel's brilliant young life - told in his own vividly moving words, By FREDDY MCCONNEL, The Daily Mail, September 3, 2011