Fifteen year old Erica suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts and self destructive behavior.
Her parents sought assistance from doctors in helping their daughter, and it had been a counselor and psychiatrist that advised Erica’s parents that they must do more.
The anti-depressants, anti-psychotic and street drugs were a potentially lethal combination.
Erica’s mother spent time researching options, and decided on one of the wilderness-therapy camps available for troubled and/or difficult teens.
The camp promised a fun, camping experience, in which Erica would have an adventure while stopping the illegal drug use.
On the first day of Erica’s camp arrival, she was dead that evening, and not from suicide.
There are almost no regulations in place concerning the wilderness boot camps/treatment camps.
In 2007, the GAO documented thousands of reports detailing the abuse and neglect and ten deaths at these camps nationwide.
To read about Erica’s story :
From the article:
“The programs are huge moneymakers, because the overhead is so low. Some don’t even require a high school degree for so-called “therapists.” Because much of the program involves camping, there are no facilities to pay for. The food served isn’t great.
There is no research to show any of what goes on at these camps works. No peer-reviewed journal articles, no controlled studies. Just anecdotal testimony from parents and kids — some of which has been paid for.” (pg 2)
“The GAO investigated many deaths in “therapy” programs, including:
• A 16-year-old girl from Virginia who died of a massive head trauma at a camp in Utah. She fell while hiking on Christmas Day. The staff had reportedly not scouted the dangerous area and didn’t have medical equipment. It took paramedics an hour to arrive.
• A 14-year-old boy from Texas who died of hyperthermia (overheating) at a Utah camp. He had difficulty hiking and sat down, then fainted and lay motionless. A staff member hid behind a tree for 10 minutes to see if the boy was faking before discovering he had no pulse. The boy died soon afterward.
• A 15-year-old boy from California who died at a Missouri boot camp/boarding school, probably as a result of complications from a spider bite. Despite showing signs of medical distress for days, the program’s medical staff said the boy was faking — and because he was weak and couldn’t exercise, he was forced to wear a 20-pound sandbag around his neck.
……. also documented are cases of girls forced to give lap dances as part of their therapy, and another girl told to cover herself in dirt to symbolize the fact that as a rape victim, she was dirty.” (pg 2)
Parents pay out thousands of dollars in seeking help at these camps, and rarely does health insurance cover or help with the costs.
From the article :
“So far, there’s been no action in the U.S. Senate.
And even if there is, the sad truth is that a federal law might not do much. The U.S. House legislation is modeled largely after a state law in Oregon, the location of the most recent death at a wilderness-therapy camp, in August.” (pg. 3)
These are not adults paying $9-$10,000 and signing waivers for sweat lodges in Sedona.
As the Phoenix New Times article details, these are loving parents entrusting the lives of their children to people who advertise these therapeutic camps.
Shouldn’t our government have regulations for the camps to protect the parents and their children?