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

A search warrant filed by criminal investigators described how the boy had to sleep that night in a Bivvy bag, or an emergency sleeping bag, strung up on a thick piece of plastic with an alarm that would go off if he moved.

It's a slightly different version of a contraption Mitterando and other former campers have described having to sleep in called a burrito

"The restrictive component of it was the same," Mitterando said. "I remember I was on burrito for two weeks and I remember not being able to sleep because I could not move. I could not breathe very well. It was just kind of like a cocoon."

Another former camper, a 14-year-old girl whose parents asked reporters to not disclose her name, described, "We would lay on a tarp and then they'd wrap it over us, restraining us from any movement. You had to stay like this long time."

It's 100% child abuse with potential for health complications. Couldn't be more clear to me.

Just my professional opinion.
 
The website had Dr. Tony Fisher listed as a consulting physician, which (IMO) sounds like they had a physician they called when they needed to, maybe on intake as well, but there might not have been any regular medical treatment.

Once a medication is prescribed, per state law, public school employees are generally permitted to administer prescribed treatments at the written request of parents (G.S. 115C-375.1, more info).

That applies to public schools, and but I would guess that something similar applies to private schools and whatever Trails Carolina is categorized as. Or perhaps it is something even more permissive.
Your post triggered my brain to have an aha moment.
I don't know about the States, but in the UK and Canada, organisations like Girl Guides and Boy Scouts have medication permission forms when they join and whenever there is a camp.
They could align themselves to a program like that to be able to administer medication with parents permission.
 
WTH is the purpose of such a restrictive sleeping arrangement- for 2 weeks! How does this provide “therapy?” No wonder the boy had a panic attack, I’m having trouble breathing just reading about this torture.

Would anyone here treat a new puppy that way on their first day with you? These people- counselors and so-called therapists are horrible. I don’t care what letters any of them have after their names. And the consulting doctor, I can’t even.

Absolutely disgusting. All MOO
Can you imagine a parent doing this to their child in their home? The child would be taken away and parents charged.
 
Age of consent for psychiatric treatment of minors markedly differs from one state to another. In NC it is 18, while in CA, 12. Had the victim lived in CA, and not in NY, he could have legally refused "wilderness therapy". It might be illegal for two unknown adults to transfer a minor that has reached the "age of consent" in his home state to a facility
in another state with different age of psychiatric consent. Between different laws in different states, the issue looks complicated.

 
The behavioral health industry continues its shift away from adolescent wilderness therapy programs as payers opt for other care models and the segment grapples with strong public backlash.

(snip)

For example, a 12-year-old boy died at a wilderness therapy camp not affiliated with Embark Behavioral Health called Trails Carolina, earlier this month. Sources tell Behavioral Health Business that Trails Carolina, a part of Salem, Oregon-based Family Help & Wellness, has been rocked by the development.

(snip)

Several tell BHB that wilderness programming has long relied on big-dollar private payments, unstable state funding and limited funding from health plans.

(snip)

Over the years, repeated controversies at several wilderness programs have injected skeptical rhetoric about wilderness therapy programs into the mainstream. In sum, wilderness programs are now a tough sell as the industry has “no strong evidence” supporting its model and often appeals to parents of children with genuine needs in a moment of crisis.

(snip)

A representative of Trails Carolina tells BHB that it is still “continuing to evaluate all possible options for the future of the program.” It employs about 75 people.

Sources close to the company tell BHB that the recent death and the fallout from state and local officials have pushed Trails Carolina close to shutting down. On Monday, Trails leaders told staff that they were exploring options, including an outright closure as well as employee furloughs.

 
Can you imagine a parent doing this to their child in their home? The child would be taken away and parents charged.

Exactly. As long as it's parent-sanctioned rather than parent-committed, it seems to be legal. Can you imagine if that went for all things? What if they farmed out all kinds of abuse, not just physical? What is wrong with our legislators that they haven't criminalized these barbaric camps?

MOO
 
Age of consent for psychiatric treatment of minors markedly differs from one state to another. In NC it is 18, while in CA, 12. Had the victim lived in CA, and not in NY, he could have legally refused "wilderness therapy". It might be illegal for two unknown adults to transfer a minor that has reached the "age of consent" in his home state to a facility
in another state with different age of psychiatric consent. Between different laws in different states, the issue looks complicated.


This is NOT psychiatric treatment. That is a fact. This is absolutely 100% NOT the standard of medical (aka psychiatric) care.
 
The behavioral health industry continues its shift away from adolescent wilderness therapy programs as payers opt for other care models and the segment grapples with strong public backlash.

(snip)

For example, a 12-year-old boy died at a wilderness therapy camp not affiliated with Embark Behavioral Health called Trails Carolina, earlier this month. Sources tell Behavioral Health Business that Trails Carolina, a part of Salem, Oregon-based Family Help & Wellness, has been rocked by the development.

(snip)

Several tell BHB that wilderness programming has long relied on big-dollar private payments, unstable state funding and limited funding from health plans.

(snip)

Over the years, repeated controversies at several wilderness programs have injected skeptical rhetoric about wilderness therapy programs into the mainstream. In sum, wilderness programs are now a tough sell as the industry has “no strong evidence” supporting its model and often appeals to parents of children with genuine needs in a moment of crisis.

(snip)

A representative of Trails Carolina tells BHB that it is still “continuing to evaluate all possible options for the future of the program.” It employs about 75 people.

Sources close to the company tell BHB that the recent death and the fallout from state and local officials have pushed Trails Carolina close to shutting down. On Monday, Trails leaders told staff that they were exploring options, including an outright closure as well as employee furloughs.


That article seems to reinforce the public misconception of what this is. This is NOT medical care. If these children are mentally ill (and I have yet to see any legit diagnoses), then this is abuse of the medically ill, not care thereof. They can call themselves "behavioral health" all they want. It's like everyone and their grandma calling themselves life coaches. We shouldn't confuse it with legitimate scientifically based MEDICAL care.

My professional opinion only
 
Wouldn't it be more appropriate to allow the kids to sleep each on their own bunk w/sleeping bag and a foam mattress underneath, and then lock the doors at night to prevent them from running off into the wilderness and coming to harm ?
But allow them to sleep comfortably.
They're in a new situation for them and to the troubled kids this is already somewhat traumatic.

They could still have one or more staff who would stay awake at a desk, in case a child had a medical emergency.
Or -- what about a therapy camp, but outpatient only -- as in, at the end of the day they go home so the families can see them ?
Omo.
 
Wouldn't it be more appropriate to allow the kids to sleep each on their own bunk w/sleeping bag and a foam mattress underneath, and then lock the doors at night to prevent them from running off into the wilderness and coming to harm ?
But allow them to sleep comfortably.
They're in a new situation for them and to the troubled kids this is already somewhat traumatic.

They could still have one or more staff who would stay awake at a desk, in case a child had a medical emergency.
Or -- what about a therapy camp, but outpatient only -- as in, at the end of the day they go home so the families can see them ?
Omo.
IMO it’s about control. I’ve read accounts of adult self-help programs where participants are systematically decimated, often with sleep deprivation and physical discomfort. Often they are badgered into feeling a sense of helplessness and worthlessness. The belief is that a person’s will must be broken down before they can form new ways of thinking and functioning.

Adults can choose to subject themselves to such abuse but kids are at the mercy of adults.

Furthermore, IMO isolating the kids from their parents is designed to switch their allegiance over to the counselors, thus handing control to a bunch of strangers.
MOO
 
A search warrant filed by the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office described a similar sleeping arrangement the 12-year-old boy–identified at CJH—had been in prior to his death.

“The base layer of it is a heavy duty plastic that is cut approximately 6 feet and tied on each end with a string, on top of this is a sleeping Bivvy which is considered a small tent. One side is collapsed and the other side is held up by a flex pole,” the warranted described.

“Inside of this bivvy is where the sleeping bag is placed, and CJH would have to sleep like this on the first night per protocol of Trails Carolina,” the description continued. “On the zipper of the bivvy is a small alarm apparatus that is triggered to go off anytime someone tris to exit the bivvy.”

“Mr. Hunt also mentioned that CJH could exit the bivvy at any time, but he when he describe (sic) any interaction with CJH he kept stating ‘we’ would open or close the bivvy,” the warrant said
From link :
“They lay down a plastic tarp, put your sleeping bag and you in it and then wrap the tarp over you and then a staff member who you don’t know sleeps on top of that tarp so that you cannot get out,” Mitterando recalled.

Mitterando said he spent two weeks having to sleep in the Burrito.

“I remember not being able to sleep because I could not move,” he recalled. “I could not breathe very well. It was just kind of like a cocoon.”
Red bolded by me.

IF the child or teen struggles to breathe/get out -- does the staff member then move to lay on top of the inmate ?
I'm wondering if this twelve year old basically smothered to death ?
Disgusting.
This case triggers memories of reading articles about the Dozier Boys home in FL.

What has changed in the intervening years ?
Nothing, it would seem.

The sheriff's office said, 'Trails Carolina Camp has not completely cooperated with the investigation.'

On Tuesday, investigators were
granted two search warrants for separate locations of the camp. One location is the camp where the incident occurred and the second location is where the other campers who were in the cabin at the time of the boy's death were relocated to.
Red bolding mine.

Investigators had to go and get search warrants because (I'm assuming ?) the staff or management there would not allow them to look inside the camp, aka, not cooperating ?
Omo.
 
This is NOT psychiatric treatment. That is a fact. This is absolutely 100% NOT the standard of medical (aka psychiatric) care.
Even worse. But they pose themselves as certified to provide “therapeutic care” for psychiatric conditions. If such, there is an issue of at least obtaining a written consent from an adolescent for “therapy”. I looked up Alex Lansing, he was 17, and the age of consent for treatment of any psychiatric diagnosis in Georgia is 16. He was at Trails Carolina at 17. See the problem? He had to sign himself in, legally, in GA, not be snatched away from home by two unknown adults, to be transferred through several state lines. Now: to me personally, handing your child to two adults whose background checks were not performed in your own state, to be transferred across the state line, into another state with different laws might, in a way, fall under violation of Mann Act. Or is there a similar law that would apply better?
 
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Even worse. But they pose themselves as certified to provide “therapeutic care” for psychiatric conditions. If such, there is an issue of at least obtaining a written consent from an adolescent for “therapy”. I looked up Alex Lansing, he was 17, and the age of consent for treatment of any psychiatric diagnosis in Georgia is 16. He was at Trails Carolina at 17. See the problem? He had to sign himself in, legally, in GA, not be snatched away from home by two unknown adults, to be transferred through several state lines. Now: to me personally, handing your child to two adults whose background checks were not performed in your own state, to be transferred across the state line, into another state with different laws might, in a way, fall under violation of Mann Act. Or is there a similar law that would apply better?

I wouldn't even get into the nuances of it because to me, it would be irrelevant. He wasn't getting therapy or psychiatric treatment, so that particular law wouldn't apply, IMO. What should apply is child trafficking and child abuse. MOO
 
Wouldn't it be more appropriate to allow the kids to sleep each on their own bunk w/sleeping bag and a foam mattress underneath, and then lock the doors at night to prevent them from running off into the wilderness and coming to harm ?
But allow them to sleep comfortably.
They're in a new situation for them and to the troubled kids this is already somewhat traumatic.

They could still have one or more staff who would stay awake at a desk, in case a child had a medical emergency.
Or -- what about a therapy camp, but outpatient only -- as in, at the end of the day they go home so the families can see them ?
Omo.
IMO the parent should be required to have a 5-day experience at the same camp, with the same restrictions (e.g. no bed, no mattress, tarp in the woods) before they send their child.

IMO the baseline for troubled folks is a baseline of comfort, including healthy food (<modsnip - no link, off topic>), a decent bed, toilet access, clean and warm clothes, medications prescribed by home doctor only, and overall a feeling of safety. IMO using nature to intimidate children is unforgivable. Let them go on hikes, and maybe a two-night overnight, but none of this extended stuff, which seems to me a way just to put difficult kids out of sight for a while, so no one has to "deal" with them.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Wouldn't it be more appropriate to allow the kids to sleep each on their own bunk w/sleeping bag and a foam mattress underneath, and then lock the doors at night to prevent them from running off into the wilderness and coming to harm ?
But allow them to sleep comfortably.
They're in a new situation for them and to the troubled kids this is already somewhat traumatic.

They could still have one or more staff who would stay awake at a desk, in case a child had a medical emergency.
Or -- what about a therapy camp, but outpatient only -- as in, at the end of the day they go home so the families can see them ?
Omo.
We don’t have reason to believe at this time that the other kids weren’t sleeping in more “normal” bunk conditions. The search warrant says that the victim’s sleeping conditions were their standard protocol after intake, which to me implies that it wasn’t the same as what everyone else was doing.

From what I’ve seen, IMO, “burrito” and CJH’s sleeping conditions (which might be one in the same) were a special status for kids the camp decided (rightfully or not) were particularly high risk for harming themselves or others. It could also be a punishment, and I think if you are punishing someone already designated a Troubled Teen, their perceived risk is higher. A lot of these camps take the perspective that these kids need to earn everything—happiness, respect, trust—so you don’t get to sleep in a bed until you’ve proven you deserve it and that you can be trusted to do so.

^none of that is to justify any of Trails’s actions or the greater Troubled Teen Industry, just to say that if that’s the perspective you’re coming in with, the trauma being caused might be explained away by needing to keep everyone safe.
 

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