NC - 12-year-old dies at Trails Carolina wilderness therapy camp, Lake Toxaway, February 2024

ChatteringBirds

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"Deputies said on February 2, 2024, with his parent’s consent, a 12-year-old was taken by two men from New York to Trails Carolina Camp along Winding Gap Road in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina...

On February 3, "someone at the camp reported that the boy wasn’t breathing. Crews arrived at the scene and tried to save the child but stopped after they realized that it appeared that he had been dead for an extended amount of time...

Deputies added that Trails Carolina Camp “has not completely cooperated” with their investigation..."

The cause of the boy's death is pending. His identity has not been released.

The camp is licensed and accredited and says they are "cooperating fully with investigators."

More links:

 
@monkey222 according to website, students can gain high school credits in the camp's academic program. This is a camp for kids with emotional, mental, behavourial struggles

 
Deputies said on February 2, 2024, with his parent’s consent, a 12-year-old was taken by two men from New York to Trails Carolina Camp along Winding Gap Road in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, where he was assigned to a cabin with other minors and four adult staff members.

According to deputies, they responded to the camp at 8:10 a.m. on February 3 after someone at the camp reported that the boy wasn’t breathing. Crews arrived at the scene and tried to save the child but stopped after they realized that it appeared that he had been dead for an extended amount of time. Deputies stated that camp staff reported that they had tried to perform CPR before crews arrived.
Camp not fully cooperating with investigation into 12-year-old’s death, deputies say

so this is one of those big dudes come and snatch you from your home with your parents consent to take you out in the wilderness to learn to "behave" properly places. Poor kid didn't even survive 24 hours in their care. After all we've heard about similar camps offering "wilderness therapy" why do parents still continue to engage their services??? MOO
 
I personally really feel for his parents. They lost their precious child after being promised professionals would help him.

For some reason, there are positive stories on parenting groups about wilderness camps. I have recently seen these camps recommended on parenting social media groups when people are asking for ideas on how to help their preteen or teen.

I don't know if the recommendations mean some families are actually happy with these camps or if people are paid to post these stories, though. JMO.

This boy's parents did choose a camp that was licensed and accredited, and I see them as victims. Unfortunately something went very wrong and obviously they will regret this decision forever.

All that said, I wouldn't send my own son unless he agreed to try it, because I think the "someone comes and gets you and you have to go" model would traumatize most kids.

And some camps still use abusive tactics, and how do you tell the difference? But for all we know this family knew another family whose experience at this camp was a positive one.

I wish there were more wilderness camps where the entire family goes together, learns to work together, receives therapy there, etc.

I don't know. This case just breaks my heart because I know quite a few boys this age and it is truly a difficult age for them. And his parents were just trying to help him, and it sounds like something was done to him there. My opinions only.
 
Poor kid. And poor parents. On paper the school looks great. I’m sure desparate parents hope it will get their child back on track. But the mix of students seems problematic to me. Although they are grouped by age and gender, there seems to be a good chance that your child could be grouped with someone quite disturbed.

This link quotes an overview of children they help…
Many students who come to us face challenges such as mental health challenges, behavioral issues, or emotional struggles that hinder their academic performance.

For some, the pressures and difficulties of traditional school environments can take a toll on their overall well-being. And for others, school has become a place where they feel incapable of succeeding, leading them to avoid it altogether.

Whether students encounter difficulties in specific subjects, face bullying, or struggle to thrive in large academic settings, our therapeutic residential treatment programs can help.
BBM
————————-
This link describes in detail the various issues the students are there to deal with (scroll down). They can be quite serious. There seems to me to be a good chance of children abusing/hurting other children.

JMO
 
LAKE TOXAWAY, N.C. (AP) — A 12-year-old boy’s death a day after his arrival at a western North Carolina nature-based therapy program did not appear to be natural, but the cause is still pending and the medical examiner’s report may not be available for months, authorities said.

The autopsy was performed because the death at Trails Carolina in Lake Toxaway on Saturday appeared suspicious since it occurred less than 24 hours after the boy arrived, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Wednesday. The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy told investigators the death appeared to not be natural
 
The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy told investigators the death appeared to not be natural

Fingers crossed this isn’t another positional/restriction asphyxia. Too many people performing crisis intervention holds on kids while being overweight/undertrained/not trained at all/angry; I’m just hoping this wasn’t staff related, but is child related any better?

What are parents supposed to do when their child is troubled beyond their ability to help? The places designed to help these kids seem to hurt (potentially what we’re seeing here) or lose(Serenity Dennard) them. Not even blaming the facilities or the families in any way. Just aching for them. Just asking the ether. How can we stop this?
Imo.
 
Fingers crossed this isn’t another positional/restriction asphyxia. Too many people performing crisis intervention holds on kids while being overweight/undertrained/not trained at all/angry; I’m just hoping this wasn’t staff related, but is child related any better?

What are parents supposed to do when their child is troubled beyond their ability to help? The places designed to help these kids seem to hurt (potentially what we’re seeing here) or lose(Serenity Dennard) them. Not even blaming the facilities or the families in any way. Just aching for them. Just asking the ether. How can we stop this?
Imo.

I understand. Before posting the AP news link, I read personal experiences written about this facility by children who were yanked out of their homes and taken to this place without any explanations to them. It is frightening what these children are exposed to doing while in this alarming situ which I won't mention here. An easy google search brings many results including at reddit.

2021
‘It’s beyond cruel’: Inside an N.C. wilderness therapy program for teens
 
Re: The cost of Trails Carolina (Ouch!) - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
How much does it cost to go to trails Carolina?
The cost of wilderness therapy programs at Trails Carolina is based on a daily rate of $715 per day for our Youth Groups (10-13) and $675 for our Adolescent Groups (14-17). We request that the initial deposit covers the first 42 days plus the Enrollment Fee of $4,900.
Top Wilderness Therapy Programs Ages 10-17 | Trails Carolina
1707502947035.png
trailscarolina.com
https://trailscarolina.com › wilderness-therapy-pro
 

Oh no, thanks for finding this. This article alleges this camp does use methods like restraints, staff has minimal training (less than a week) and earn minimum wage. That therapy was minimal. Negative methods (such as shaming and fear) are alleged.

And another student died in the past there. (In 2014, a 17-year-old ran away from the camp, climbed a tree, fell, broke his femur, and died in the creek below.)

 
"Many students who come to us face challenges such as mental health challenges, behavioral issues, or emotional struggles that hinder their academic performance."
Honestly, for once put the child's wellbeing first and not academic performance. Seems infinitely more important to have a living child and find reputable local treatment modalities. Moo
 
It's hard for me to criticise the parents at this point because there are so few resources and options available to families with troubled, volatile teens. There is so much pressure to try and help their child but so few choices available.

And when that child acts out or snaps, we blame the parents for not doing anything beforehand. But what are they to do, realistically?

You can try and 'manage' things at home, try and get the child to cooperate with a therapist or out patient treatment program or find a program that accepts them to come stay. It's all hit or miss, imo.
 
I personally really feel for his parents. They lost their precious child after being promised professionals would help him.

For some reason, there are positive stories on parenting groups about wilderness camps. I have recently seen these camps recommended on parenting social media groups when people are asking for ideas on how to help their preteen or teen.

I don't know if the recommendations mean some families are actually happy with these camps or if people are paid to post these stories, though. JMO.

This boy's parents did choose a camp that was licensed and accredited, and I see them as victims. Unfortunately something went very wrong and obviously they will regret this decision forever.

All that said, I wouldn't send my own son unless he agreed to try it, because I think the "someone comes and gets you and you have to go" model would traumatize most kids.

And some camps still use abusive tactics, and how do you tell the difference? But for all we know this family knew another family whose experience at this camp was a positive one.

I wish there were more wilderness camps where the entire family goes together, learns to work together, receives therapy there, etc.

I don't know. This case just breaks my heart because I know quite a few boys this age and it is truly a difficult age for them. And his parents were just trying to help him, and it sounds like something was done to him there. My opinions only.

Many thanks for this fine post, @ChatteringBirds. A-Plus.
 
Just my opinion and not specifically aimed at this particular camp…

I did a deep dive into these so-called thearapy “boot camps” back around 2015 and was horrified at what I learned. I know some changes have been implemented since then to better protect the teens but even more changes are needed IMo.

One problem back then was staffing the camps with untrained, unaccredited counselors. And when a death or numerous assaults were reported it was common for the camp to shut down and open right back up under a new name.

Hopefully there’s more oversight nowadays compared to the past; this is a huge money-making industry and it’s not a surprise that nefarious entrepreneurs are eager to get in on the profits.

Parents have a right to feel comfortable enrolling their child in a program they believe will help them adjust into society. But I agree it should be a family therapy environment with complete transparency. Was this camp transparent? I guess we’ll find out eventually once the investigation into the boy’s death is completed.

To be clear, I’m not knocking all camps and I don’t yet have enough information to judge this one. But I’ll for sure be following this case closely!

All MOO

 
In my professional opinion, any time you invite total strangers into your home to literally kidnap your child, you are inflicting trauma on your kid. These programs should be illegal, but even if one or two of them have merit, this technique of whisking kids away should be illegal. 100%.
 

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