Oh let me start from the top with this place. In all honesty, I cannot begin to fathom where I should begin. Let me start with my experience going thru the program. To protect my privacy, I will not name specifics in regards to timing of my dates. I was one of the lucky ones in terms of having knowledge beforehand that I was going. When your parent or legal guardian enrolls you, the admissions counselor tells them to not inform your child of when or where they are going. They have these little deceptive services they use and the rest of the students called them “goons” They came to your house in the middle of the night and literally forced you to pack your things and to get in the car with them to go to Trails Carolina. I was lucky enough not to go thru this, but everyone else in my squad did. I could tell that Trails did not like that I knew ahead of time because they called my parents and told them that I had contacted them for more information. I have documentation supporting that in case it is disputed for any reason in a response.
What was supposed to be a therapeutic experience has left me with nothing but sheer PTSD for the past years following my graduation from the program. Nightmares ensued and still ensue now even years after. The minute I walked into my first day and I was dropped off, I was sent to a room where they made me strip out of my clothes while someone watched, and change into some kind of uniform. A green t shirt and a red hoodie and these quick dry pants and some hiking shoes. I was there for a little over two months during the winter season. In the North Carolina mountains it can get below 0 degrees with the wind chill at night. This place is anything but therapeutic. Let me tell you the menu of food we had to eat. By the way, they told us when we could eat. Yes. There were times when we were not allowed to eat. Mondays breakfast was oats which we made using a pot filled with water from the creek which was boiled. Mondays lunch? Oh the same with every lunch. One tortilla with honey. Thats it. Everyday for almost 80 days. Dinner on Monday was rice and beans. They portioned the meals into a green cup that everyone had. You had to eat at least half a cup and a maximum of 2.5 cups which you told the person making it before. We carried the food around everywhere with us. Tuesdays dinner was called mush. What is mush? It’s literally everything that you didnt use from the week put into one pot and served .This included sometimes noodles, peanut butter, garlic, and whatever else wasnt used because Wednesday was resupply and we were not allowed to keep any food. Each week each person got a bag of food that was called a “p-bag” inside was a ziploc bag of raisins, mixed nuts, 1 jar of peanut butter, 6 oranges, and apricots. If we didnt eat it all we couldnt keep it. Heres the funny thing my first day, I came in on a Monday, so the next day was the last day, I got my p-bag and I had a full jar of peanut butter and all the rest of the kids were mad. So after I turned in my food bag for the night, the staff opened my jar of peanut butter and scooped out half of it to make it “fair” So Trails has 5 different stages of the program. The first is called Trailhead, then Waypoint, then Legend, then Barron which is the red book then navigator then guide. I never made it to navigator thank god. Honestly, and I’m not going to lie, I learned nothing during those 70 days, I learned after I left that my parents almost had to hire a lawyer to get me home because the therapist assigned to me, Todd Green would not let me leave. He said that I wasn’t ready. I was there for a minor reason compared the rest were there for drug trafficking offenses, and he had the audacity to suggest to my parents that I not return home but instead be sent across the country to a therapeutic boarding school. He suggested that I was doing horribly to my parents. My parents were being told that I was doing horribly. He set me up while I was there to try and get me to relapse into my old behaviors so that he could tell my parents that I needed to be sent away. I will repeat this again. I have PTSD still from this. I tried repressing it for a long time but I face it now still. I will never forget collecting sticks from the woods in the freezing cold rain and my hands almost frostbitten and if I stopped I would have gotten reported in the blue books that they kept a log in. Once again, I will repeat that I cheated my way thru the program because I didnt think I would ever get out. We had to bust a coal which means create a spark that turned into a fire using a bowdrill. This was really stupid because the whole program was centered around busting a coal or you couldnt go home. I signed several activities as complete my self so I could go home because they would not let me leave. The therapist Todd Green would sit with me and eat his outside food in front of me while we talked and it was so obvious that he was getting some sick amusement out of this. This man is a criminal and I hope he has his license revoked because he sure as hell deserves it. I learned nothing from the program, only that people in this world who are supposed to be there to help you are just as messed up. The staff was so oblivious to everything. They were trained to ignore us and to be firm with everyone. I did some digging after I left and contacted the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and they sent me the Statement of Deficiency reports for the past 5 years. Each year they have been cited for the same things and they never improve. IT IS ILLEGAL TO ADMINISTER MEDICATION TO A MINOR THAT THEY ARE NOT PRESCRIBED TO. Everyday they gave us this pill that they called Trails Candy, they said it was a vitamin but they would not ever disclose what it actually was because as they said it was none of our business. They checked under our tongue each time we took it to make sure we didn’t spit it out. That is illegal according to the state of North Carolina. In addition, sanitary conditions would certainly fail a health department audit including the fact that we sometimes went without showers for 3 weeks, and to rinse our cup of food we had to dump water in it and drink it. I used my hoodie sleeve to wipe it out for 3 months and dumped the rest in the leu which we dug ourselves. By the time I graduated my hoodie sleeve was covered in mold from food which was disgusting. Wednesdays dinner was plain quinoa. yes plain quinoa…. I couldnt eat like that so on Wednesdays I snuck into the p bag and stuffed a tortilla into my pocket and dumped the quinoa in the lou. Gross. Inhumane!! We used all the sausage, and butter and cheese for mac night, but in the summer, they dont give the kids any of that so i feel so bad!!! I spent my nights in tears because I did not know when I was going to leave. I cheated the program because I have ADD and that completely and utterly destsroyed me in every way to the point where my PTSD still affects my sleep. I cannot go camping anymore, I cannot go hiking anymore. I cannot be around the smell of a campfire anymore. This was not supposed to happen. We had these backpacks that were already so crammed. My sleeping bag zipper ripped off my first week and it was winter. Below zero temps in the mountains. I asked if I could have another one, they said no and the staff, his name was Sean threw me a thing of dental floss and said sew it up. Brutal. I asked for a new spoon each week because I could not stand the unsanitary conditions. I will be following up with Laura Callis who provided me with the reports. Trails does not want you to see them. They had a student die in their custody and they tried to take down the news reports because it was hurting their business. They made us dump our bags and search thru everything and then said pack it back up. I cried for the first time in 8 years when I saw my parents at the end not of joy but of horror because they told me they had to fight to bring me home because the program would not let me leave. They didnt want me to go but my parents by the grace of god wanted to bring me home so they finally did. I got into a normal high school the following Fall. It took so many months of getting the therapist to write a report that was accurate as he tried writing me a recommendation letter that suggested that I needed a therapeutic boarding school. My parents had to force him to change the letter or face legal action. The fact that the program lied to my parents about my progress in an effort to keep me there was either out of sheer malice or just to get more money. I’m not sure which one. I know they didn’t like the fact that I knew ahead of time because I had a cellphone up until the moment they took it away posting on the internet about where I was incase anything happened. I pretty much signed off on alot of activities myself that I didn’t want to do. I used someone elses materials to bust all of my coals. While 2 of the students were at testing I went into his kit and busted 3 which was reported into the blue journal which boosted my progress. When I heard I was going home I was so happy because I cannot tell you how traumatized this experience left me. The mental abuse suffering thru was not therapeutic. It did not help me in any way, if anything it made it worse. I wanted to expose them for so long but with these places its always the corporation against the person who was actually there. I am not crazy, I am not psychotic, I have ADD and the reason I was sent there was not drug related, it was because I was impulsive. I did not injure anyone, I did not commit a crime like the rest of the people in my group did. My parents told me they had a retreat where all the parents of the students met and talked about their kids and how my mom cried and turned to my dad and said “what have we sent our son to?” All these students were here for offenses like drug trafficking, and larceny, stealing cars, and it didnt compare to the trivial thing I did. There are stories that I could tell all day about the things that went on and how they would sound unbelievable but they are so true. I got in contact with one of the people who was in the program with me, and he told me he relapsed and was living on his own. I still have all of my journals and other things from the program where I wrote each day the things that I did. Oh and toothbrushes? If you didn’t have a toothbrush you had to use your finger to brush your teeth 🙂
This place is a mess do not send your child here. I promise you it will be a nightmare.