Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index
What is your name?
To which institutions were you sent?
Missanabie Woods Academy, Canada
How old were you?
When were you enrolled in The Program?
What was the highest level you attained?
Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:
I was molested when I was 11 years old, which caused a lot of anger issues. I started skipping school to avoid kids who knew what happened, I started smoking, and I argued with my parents.
In which house(s) did you live?
I lived at the girlsí cabin across the lake from the main camp.
Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:
Received swats once for lying. Budd Teare administered the swats. He was a big guy and I remember he hit hard. Then afterwards he told me that it was a girlís spanking. I remember three adults were present, sitting in chairs, watching (two guys, and one woman, Brenda Wheeler). It was extremely humiliating to be watched while I got swats.
Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:
One girl was humiliated really badly. She was 15 and wet her bed. I think she had been physically and sexually abused by foster parents. Nobody knew she was wetting the bed until the day we had a cabin inspection. The assistant camp director (I think his name was Jewel) did the inspection. The girls had to wait outside the cabin. He smelled the urine in her sleeping bag and mattress pad. He brought the sleeping bag and mattress outside and threw them on the rocks yelling and screaming about the bad smell in front of all the girls. He yelled at the girl and told her to wash everything.
Also, the camp director, Budd Teare, dunked kids in the lake. This happened to two girls in my squad. The first girl was 17 and she refused one day to go to work. She was brought down to ìthe point. Budd Teare and the assistant director yelled at her for a long time. Budd would get right into someoneís face and yell. He would do this to boys as well as girls. Then the girl was told to go out into the lake until she was waist deep. Budd went out into the water as well. She was yelled at again for a long time and then told to go under water. Budd pulled her up and down in the water by her shirt and also grabbed her hair. When this girl came back to the cabin later that day, her shirt was torn. This same punishment was administered to another girl in my squad.
There is also another disturbing incident, which is not really an example of physical abuse, but psychological abuse. One of the girls in my cabin (I think she was 15) slept in a small room on the ground floor of the cabin by herself. The other 6 girls slept in the loft. One night after we had fallen asleep, we woke up to the sounds of a girl screaming and a window being broken. I remember thinking it was someone breaking into the cabin or perhaps an animal. It turned out to be the girl who slept downstairs. The noise woke the two women counselors who went in to see what was wrong. All of us girls huddled together in the loft crying because we were frightened and did not know what was going on. I heard the girl screaming and eventually a few men from the main camp came to our cabin. They took the girl outside and after a long while we were told that everything was o.k. We were told to go back to sleep. The next day, we were admonished not to talk about the incident to one another and not to ask the girl who slept downstairs any questions. We were threatened with discipline if we said anything. That day, I managed to spend a few private moments with the girl. She told me that prior to being sent to the camp, she had been heavily involved in witch craft, satan worship, and weje boards. She said that the night of the incident she woke up and saw demons flying around her room and that they were trying to torment her. She obviously freaked out and broke the window. I was only 13 and the whole situation terrified me. I tried to write a letter to my parents to tell them what happened, but the Dean of Women, Brenda Wheeler, would not send my letter. I was told not to let my parents know about the incident. The whole affair was hushed up. We were not allowed to communicate to anyone what had happened. The girl could not even write home about it. Even to this day, that incident troubles me deeply. She needed professional help and did not receive it.
Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?
The scenery was awesome and sometimes the food was good.
What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?
The program convinced me I was a bad kid. They told me that the first day I arrived. The whole time I was there they told me I needed to change. I have a stack of letters that I wrote to my parents that summer. In each letter, I told my parents over and over again how sorry I was for all the bad things I had done and begged their forgiveness. Saying you are sorry and asking forgiveness is a good thing; however, the staff instilled in me a belief that I was beyond hope or redemption. I felt like they made me do penance. The counselors had a way of making you feel guilty for all the wrongs you had done. To this day, I believe I am a bad person. Only bad kids are sent to boot camp. As an adult, I have received Christian counseling from a pastor and I finally was able to overcome my negative impression of myself and deal with my low self esteem. Also, because I had been molested as a child, being sent to a discipline camp made me feel as if the abuse was my fault and that is why I was sent away.
What do you think of the quality of education you received?
It was summer camp--no academics. I did learn quite a lot about surviving in the wilderness (cutting down trees, canoeing, building a fire/ shelter).
How old are you today?
Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?
I started college at the age of 26. I have a B.A. in history and a M.S. in hospitality and tourism management.
What is your profession?
I work for a non profit organization managing fund raisers and organizing special events.
Do you consider yourself a Christian today?
What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?
For awhile it taught me that God is always angry at me. The program was legalistic. We were taught God's commandments (do this, donít do that), but nothing about His unfailing love, mercy, and grace. I started attending a church in my late 20ís and was taught about Godís unconditional love. It made such a difference in my life.
Please feel free to add comments here:
The program goes overboard punishing kids. Staff bullied, intimidated, and beat kids into submission. Many seemed to be on power trips and abused the authority given to them. Labeling all of us as ìbadî made a lasting impression. As an adult, I worked several years as a swimming instructor and I knew kids who are deathly afraid of the water (adults too). Pushing kids under water can be very traumatizing.
Staff members also manipulated my parents. For example, my parents came to visit me at the camp after I had been there 5 weeks. I spoke regularly about wanting to go home. The Dean of Women, Brenda Wheeler, wrote a letter to my parents before they came for the visit (I have the letter). She told my parents that I would ask to come home and that they should stand firm in their decision to keep me there. My parents came for the visit and refused to take me home. Also, near the end of the summer, Tim Blossom pressured my parents into sending me to the D.R. He told them that I would still have problems if I did not continue with their program. My mother missed me so much that summer and she refused to send me to the D.R.
I have a 15 year old daughter. I would not send her to New Horizons no matter what she does. New Horizonís programs and policies have gone unchecked and unmonitored for years and sadly many kids were victims of mental and physical abuse. Perhaps, kids today are suffering abuse. Until a thorough investigation is made and the leaders are made accountable for their actions, I consider New Horizons facilities to be hazardous for troubled teenagers.