25 Years and the Industry is Growing

I need to tell the story of Challenger. It’s beyond upsetting to know that the world knows this is happening yet nobody seems to care enough to do anything about it. We focus on the human right violations on children in other countries while ignoring it at home. Isn’t that always the case? It’s easier to see what someone else is doing wrong. There are a few articles out there but you have to dig.

It blows my mind to think in the year 2014 – with the internet – that parents could easily find out that many of these places are dangerous and really just out to profit from their fear.  How can parents be so stupid? Oh, wait, most of these articles don’t come up if you Google “troubled teen” you may have come across Dr. Phil endorsing these programs….up until recently he most likely made a tidy sum of money doing so….


Excerpt from article written January 30, 2014

Parents Say Dr. Phil Exploited Troubled Teen, by Jonny Bonner from the  Courthousenews.com:

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Parents claim “showman” Dr. Phil paid to have their teenage daughter locked up at a “private prison” where her arm was mangled in a melee with a math teacher, after the girl saw a lover killed as they had sex and then was caught seeking sex online.
Terri and David Myers sued the Dr. Phil Organization, Bain Capital, CRC Health Group, Aspen Education Group, Island View Academy and math teacher Ryan Mortensen, in Federal Court.

Full Version of Article about Dr. Phil here

Vice  wrote an article about the Troubled Teen Industry…a great article highlighting the major issues in the industry…yet…more than a year later… Continue reading

Nothing in the News

There are so many people who have been “taken” to wilderness programs and other troubled teen programs….yet there is so little in the news. It kills me to think there are kids – right now- who are in one of these programs. Human right violations you would NEVER think could happen in the United States are happening right now….and parents are paying for this!

I don’t get it. I just can’t wrap my head around how the abuse is allowed to continue.

Below is an article from January 2014 about a girl’s experience….





Letters: August 5

August 14


Well I am glad to hear that everything is going good at the Cape. I am always wondering where you and everyone is and what time on such and such day. I figured you went painting on Tuesday mornings, guess not.

If you and Winnie need some help on dieting I’d be more than happy to give you advice. Hike 10 miles a day pushing a handcart and if you don’t have a handcart…hike an extra three miles. I can cook you some low in fat foods – I make killer lentils and ash cakes too.

When I get home, you, me, Alicia and whoever else are going to have a cook out. A real one. On the beach.

When we were at Lake Powell me, Stacey, JR, Katherine, Tommy and Nicole went clamming and got over 100 of them. We fried some up and made chowder. The fried ones were good but the chowder was – Tommy oversalted the chowder – he had 7 bowls. I had 1 ½ (cans really, not bowls). You have to meet this guy…he is always hungry. It’s hilarious. (NG- it’s funny how I wasn’t even self aware enough at the time to realize I was always hungry too).

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Letters: August 5

Aug. 5


Hello, what is up? I’m glad you wrote, but I wish what happened to Chris didn’t come in your letter.

I hesitated before reading it – I knew something bad was in it- but I’m glad it wasn’t any of you guys. I just got it yesterday- I’m bummed about it. He was only 19.

I haven’t received mail much for two weeks we go NO mail so I don’t know what is up at the Panguitch post office.

Thanks for the camera- everyone loves it- it’s my toy. I need more film – I am picture happy. Oh the Hi Techs – $50 for two weeks/wrong. Don’t throw away the receipt.

I guess we are just going to have to return them when I get to the Cape. Then spend it on LUNCH or something.

Well, on to gloomy subjects- Will and Lee – I have not upset feelings of not seeing them again. I just want to get back my Ozzy tapes from Kyla’s house. I’ve been over them for quite a while now. I could care less if Lee died and I know Lee is not for me. (NG- I was being overly dramatic – I guess in response to my parents over-dramatic behavior…I was a teenager…that is my excuse).

About boarding school. I want to go  but I don’t know about this St. Mary’s thing. I like more people. I’m not stupid and I don’t need this “special attention”. I am intelligent, Skywalker even said so. I have been around guys for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and most of them are like brothers- some are pains in the – brothers but, I don’t really like the “all Girl” thing – and religion- it reminds me of Notre Dame. Continue reading

Letters: August 4

August 4


I just took this awesome pic just for you. All day today all I have been thinking about is Chris and what happened. I just found out today.

I can’t believe it. How are you doing? How did Jay take it? I had to read it twice before I actually computed it all. I was totally upset.

(NG- Chris was a friend from our town. He was walking home late in the evening and was hit by a drunk driver and was killed.)

I don’t want to think about that anymore. I am sure you don’t want to read more about it either.

I was so scared to write to you  because I thought you didn’t even want to hear from me. Ya know after the way I’ve been all through the school year.  I was such a loser, and not a good friend.

I miss you. I miss how we used to go skating all the time.

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Letters: August 3

Aug. 3

Dear Mom, Dad, Alicia and Scooby, Sheena, Clayton and whoever else I missed,

Well now I am in the last section before I come home. It’s the hardest one, but the best one. Handcarts – man, they are heavy. We’ve gone 40 miles (I think) so far with them and they weigh about 750lbs with six people on one. My team is the best. We’re called, “The Flintstones” and the the other half of the group is called the Rubble’s. Nice, eh? I’m Dino. (woof).

We don’t hike at all today cuz we’ve gone so far so fast. Speed Demons. Man. We are the best group. I love it.

I have an indian name too – Morning Glory. Funny hu? Me? I always get up earlier than most people – sometimes I am up before the sun! Crazy,  huh? It’s going to be weird jumping back into life quick. (NG- I was always up early in the morning because I served as the “look out” for my group as we stole food from the staff. We were so hungry…justified stealing from the people who were responsible for it. One important thing I learned in Challenger was that you had to be manipulative in order to get through it).

The first thing i want to do is cook the family dinner, okay? Then go to long beach – where nobody goes (I have a farmer’s tan, not good).

Are you going to come get me or do I fly in and meet y’all at the airport? I don’t want to keep bothering you but I only have 90 miles til I’m coming home. Two weeks and three days. I NEED to know. All my dreams are messed up. Some nights I see you at the Circle D restaurant and other times you’ve picked me up at the airport. I have to get this straight before my mind goes nuts- crazy- bonkers (I think you’ve got the point). Continue reading

Letters: July 31

July 31


Well, it’s 6:15AM and I’m waiting for time to fly – at 9:00AM we change over into the last section/Handcarts. Three more weeks until I come home.

Yesterday I received your response to one of my letters written over four weeks ago. Dad, I feel really bad for writing those and having my friend send hers too. I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t mind going to a boarding school. (NG- I had this “change of heart” based on a conversation with a Challenger counselor who told me that I may not be able to go home at the end of the program because of my attitude towards my parents. I figured it was better late than never to get with the program. Hindsight. I would have been better off staying at Challenger than going to that all girl reform school run by nuns- but that is a whole different blog).

This St. Mary’s – is there any uniform or a dress code? Is it co-ed? When does school start? Can you fill me in on the details?

I don’t need hiking boots. I survived in tennis shoes with no blisters. I think I can make it another 150 miles. So, if you haven’t bought them yet, you don’t have to -kay?

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Letters: July 30

Letter to my father:

July 30


When I get home –  you mean the Cape – right? Cuz I want to go to the Cape before going to CT then school. Could I?

Right now I am waiting for tomorrow to come. We change over into Handcarts- mucho food and only three weeks to go.

Are you coming to the run-in? Cuz what I want to do is go to the Cape and have us all go to Sunday brunch or something

I want to come home so badly. Is Alicia out of Wesleyan yet? I want us all to talk and stuff.

Oh, I need a chiropractor appointment when I get home, okay? Also a hair appointment.

That is if Al thinks I am ready to go home- I know, feel I am ready dad. I want to come home.

Write back soon

Love ya!




Letter to my good friend on Cape Cod:

July 30


Hello, guess who? Deedee here. What have you been up to? Me – oh just hiking 75 miles in three weeks. I have walked – I mean hiked- over two hundred fifty miles since June 5. I have lost a lot of weight.

So how is the Cape? How’s J and your situations of the summer going? I will hopefully be up there between Aug. 22 or so. I miss the Cape more than Cheshire.

Man, I f**cked up a lot – whoops. But this place has really straightened me out.  I went inot the hospital for a few days – I was on an IV for a kidney infection, right – I loved the hospital…craziness.

I’m so dirty and smelly. 60 some odd days with no shower, imagine that!

When I come up to the Cape do ya wanna do something? Maybe I can take you out camping – ya right!

Did you hear I am going to boarding school? Hopefully I’ll be in a cool one. Oh well, for me getting a car- maybe by next year. Oh, at this place I’m at Challenger in Utah, ger. This guy is making a documentary on this place – I might be on TV. Woopie!  I doubt it, but so….

Are you lifeguarding on a beach or at the hotel? Just-a-wondering.

Can you picture me, Deedee, hiking 17 miles in one day? Man, I am in killer shape. Hungry though. The food here is sickening! Bla. Ash cakes are good though and scones. I’ll make some for ya.

I am lusting after McDonalds and D’Angelo’s. Oh man – food. Three weeks and I’m gonna hog down. I think I’ll ask my parents for $100 and I’ll take you out and we will chow! Unless of course you need to look toned for the guys.

I have got the biggest calves and farmer’s tan. Pittiful.

I have so many stories to tell you – man- killer ones.

Sorry for me asking you to write when you hate to – sorry. I just wanted to see what was up and I can’t actually call you or anything -

Gotta go!

Bye bye for now.

Heart Deedee

We have to go to Friendly’s and catsup the plates again – ger – woka- woka


Letters: July 29

Letter to my sister, Alicia:

July 29


Whassup? Guess who? It’s your darling sister Deedee. What have you been up to this summer? Oh – me, I’ve been eating rice and lentils, yum. Can you believe that I haven’t showered for – well – since the 5th of June. Gross, eh? Oh except when I went to the hospital. Three showers…yummy.

Did dad tell you about that? I had a kidney infection – two iv’s and a few days in the hospital.

Oh Alicia, you would not believe how hot this guy is here. He is the biggest prep! He’s a model type guy. He was in Major League the movie with Charlie Sheen. He wa an extra. I will point him out when we watch the movie.

Do you still like Poo? (It felt weird writing that – I haven’t seen it for so long) How’s Jen? How was your Weslyan thing? You are probably wondering why I’m writing – well, it’s been a long time and today I decided to write.

I miss home – does home miss me at all? The people at this program don’t know if I will be “ready” to come home. But if they say I am then I only have three more weeks left.

I lost mucho weight. I’m down to shy of 100lbs and it’s mostly muscle. Great place to lose weight. I’ve hiked over 250 (?) miles since I’ve been here – the most I even hiked was 20 or 17 miles in a day.

When I get home I am going to make you a pair of moccasins, okay? They are killer when done. Continue reading