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TikTok Trend Reveals The Trauma Teens Experience At Troubled Youth Wilderness Camps

Photo: TikTok
TikTok

Teenagers are speaking out about their traumatic experiences at wilderness therapy camps as part of a viral TikTok trend.

Videos are flooding the app of people recalling the nights they were taken from their beds and sent to live in the woods as part of a controversial treatment.

In recent years, survivors of these camps, including some celebrities, have become increasingly vocal about the abuse inflicted at these facilities.

The TikTok trend is exposing the truth about wilderness camps and the troubled teen industry.

The costly camps which are typically used to treat behavioral, substance, and mental health issues in teens have been accused of playing a role in the deaths of several teens over the years.

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In one viral TikTok, user Daniel Stearns shares images of his time in wilderness therapy and writes that another of his friends from his time there died by suicide this week.

   

   

"I've lost 5 friends in the last few years from my boarding school," he writes in a comment, "We were severely emotionally abused there. they stripped our identities."

Several other TikToks note that often camp leaders insisted that students smile in photos that were being sent home to their parents.

   

   

The idea of the therapy camps is that they would destabilize teens and essentially shock or scare them into behaving.

However, survivors of the camps say there are long-term psychological impacts of this treatment.

TikTokers have opened up about their experience at wilderness therapy camps.

Some have shared that they didn’t even know their parents were sending them to a wilderness camp. People have come into their homes, kidnapped them and taken them straight to the camp.

One TikToker explained her entire trip to the camp and spoke about what she went through. She said that her belongings had been taken away from her and she had been stripped naked after she reached the camp. 

   

   

She recalled it being traumatizing for her as she had been a victim of sexual abuse. In addition, the staff didn't make it any easier as they were laughing at her when she stripped.

There had also been an instance where she needed her asthma inhaler but wasn't given one. She had to go on a hike and since she had asthma, she was struggling a lot.

However, the staff refused and only took her seriously after she asked at least five times. 

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Similarly, her other health conditions were also not given enough attention by the staff. She mentioned that she had severe abdominal pain and dehydration, however, it wasn't taken seriously.

She said, “The staff didn’t take me seriously until my hands and feet started going numb and they had to put my bare feet against their chest to improve circulation.”

She also mentioned that someone else she knew tried to escape the camp, however, the staff found her and brought her back the next day.

Paris Hilton and Bhad Bhabie have also been a victim at one of these wilderness camps and have opened up about their experiences.

Bhabie has spoken up about her experience at a wilderness camp. She was sent there when she was just 13 years old through the Dr. Phil show.

She said, "This place is all about taking away privileges, like okay yeah, the phone and the TV and all of that, but they take away necessity privileges, like sleeping on a bed, eating good food, not being cold."

She also revealed an incident where a teenager ended up killing a staff member after some conflict and how that traumatized many kids there.

Hilton mentioned that as a teenager, she would often get into trouble. As a result, her parents sent her to a wilderness therapy camp. 

In her time there for 11 months, she was quite often physically and mentally abused by the staff. They would also watch her take showers and give punishment by putting her in confinement while completely naked. 

She also mentioned that her experiences had been quite traumatizing which caused her insomnia and gave her nightmares.   

She said, “This is the only place where it’s impossible to run away.” 

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Sanika Nalgirkar, M.F.A. is a writer who covers entertainment & news, lifestyle, and pop culture topics.

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