All right, so I’m getting escorted from Cascade, northern California, to CEDU Ascent, northern Idaho. I’m thinking that it might be Rocky Mountain Academy. I don’t know what they called it, I tried to Google it, and I couldn’t find CEDU Ascent, but that’s what we all called it. So, I don’t know what the technical term was, of what the program was called. Or they might have just erased it from the internet all together. After you hear this story, you might be like, yeah, they probably erased it.
So, you get out there. All bloody day, you leave first thing in the morning, and then you travel, travel, travel. It’s in northern Idaho, like 30 minutes away from Canada, in a small little place called Bonner’s Ferry. Crazy, crazy story is, later I got sent to the same bloody city on three different occasions. I got sent there the first time through Ascent. Got sent there again to a holding house, and then after Mexico, lo and behold, I got sent up there again. Let me take a note that the Neo-Nazi capital of the United States is in Hayden Lake, which is one hour away from where I was sent. I don’t know if you all noticed, I am Black, so why would you send a kid anywhere close to the Neo-Nazi capital, I don’t know. That seems very irresponsible to me, but again, I wasn’t in charge. I was forced to do all this.
So, you get up there, and now, mind you, you’ve been traveling all day, so you don’t look the best. So, they immediately take a picture of you, this is your before picture. At the end, they cut your hair, they make you look all pretty, and everything like that, and that’s your after picture. That’s their marketing tactic, you know what I’m saying? It’s all scams. It’s all fraud.
You are dressed down, you get strip searched, all that kind of good stuff, like every other program I’ve been to. And then you’re put in a teepee. I don’t remember what time I got there, but it had to have been later. And your first day … Now, I have already been through hell, so I was already expecting that was what it was going to be, like hell. And I’d also heard horror stories of this place, so I already knew what to halfway expect. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it was going to be hell.
Let me try to explain it. When you walked in, you had a building on the right, which was the administrative building. And it was all on the perimeter, in the middle it was a circle. When you look directly forward, there was the wood hall, where we would chop wood and cut wood all day. To the left of the wood Hall was the potty, the right side of the potty was for tatonka’s (boys) and the left side was for the otters’ (girls). Keep going around the perimeter to the left where the teepees. So, you had two teepees for the boys, and then on a different platform you had the girls, all together, there were four teepees. The end of the perimeter was the mess hall where we would eat and have inside therapy sessions including writing letters.
Now, because I don’t remember the exact hour I got there, so bear with me. We’ll just kind of go with the story. Basically throughout the day, they would just work you. So, we’d be hauling logs all day long, and you had to make sure you go, “One, two, three, log! One, two, three, log!” While you’re pulling all day long. So, they’d cut the trees, and you’re basically loggers. So, you’d be having to carry these bloody logs all over the place, right, from one place to the other.
And then, what did you do after you hauled the logs? You’ve got to cut them. The two men, dual saw, all day long. Because, why did we have to cut the wood? We cut the wood because that’s the wood that kept everything warm, so if we didn’t have any wood, we’d freeze. So, all day long. And I’m talking about cords of wood. So, you want to eat, but we didn’t have enough wood? Sorry, you don’t get to eat until you’re done.
Food. You get 15 minutes, in which that time you drink a quart of water, like a whole quart, and you learn really, really fast to space that quart of water out. Because what happens if you are eating … Mind you, we are in silence. You can’t talk to anybody throughout any of this, right?
And you learn to eat extremely fast, because 15 minutes seems like a lot of time, but it’s not. Because it’s not like you get a whole 15 minutes with the food in front of you. No, no, no, it’s like the whole experience is supposed to be like 15 minutes, right? And by law, they had to give us that. So, it wasn’t like, oh yeah, we’re being nice, you get 15 minutes. No, it’s by law, they had to give us a certain amount of time to eat, to process food and everything like that, before they put you back in hell.
So, food. What you’d do, you have to eat as fast as possible, but remember … I’m sorry, not remember. Let me first explain how to get into the mess hall. What you have to do is, everyone puts their arms like this. So, if there’s one person right here … You’ve got to put your head down like this, too. Man, that’s probably what happened, neck problems. I didn’t think about that.
So, everyone’s Held together with their arms, your right arm is over the shoulders of the person to your right and your left arm is on the shoulders of the person to your left, and then you have to go, “One!” And then, “Two!” “Three!” “Four!” “Five!” “Six!” “Seven!” “Eight!” “Nine!” “Ten!” “Eleven!” However many kids there were. And that’s called checking in. And then you have to be, “12 tatonkas checking in!” Something like that. Because we were tatonkas, and the girls were otters.
If you did not do it pristinely, perfectly, you do it again. If you did not do it correctly three times, you think you’re going to get inside the mess hall to eat? No. You had to sit outside on stools of wood or whatever, and basically have your food in front of you and eat right there. Still 15 minutes. But what if it’s raining? Doesn’t matter. If you don’t count in on time, you have to eat outside in the rain.
There’s been countless times where it’s, I mean literally pouring down rain. It’s pouring down so hard that your food’s hopping off the plate. So, you’ve got to try to kind of catch it and put it in your mouth while you’re sopping wet. It was actually, I preferred those times when it was snowing. Because, yeah, it’d be freezing, and it’d be worse when it was snowing, but at least, water and food doesn’t really mix, right, and it’s really gross.
And I do have problems after all this, because if you ever look at how I eat, I can eat cold food, I can eat horrible food, I can eat anything. It’s because I was trained to, you know what I’m saying? Food doesn’t mean anything. It’s just something that you have to eat to fuel your body. So, sometimes we were outside, snow, rain, sleet. Doesn’t matter, right? You’ve still got to eat.
Inside. We checked in, we counted in perfectly, so we’re inside. We go inside the mess hall, go through a food line, get our food, and sit down. 15 minutes. So, you’re literally eating as fast as you can. And like I said, a quart of water.
What happens if you drink a quart of water in like three minutes? Let’s say you’re brand new, you don’t really know that you have to space your stuff out, and you’re just like, I’ll drink it later, I’ll drink it at the end. Well, what you do is, you down it, right? And I mean, it’s really not funny … It’s kind of funny when you watch somebody else, but then when it happens to you, it’s not funny at all.
The water shoots to your bladder like a rocket, and like 15 minutes after you chug a quart of water, you immediately have to go to the bathroom, and you are dancing around because you’ve flooded yourself with water, you can’t take it, because they’ve been making us drink water all day long.
But here’s the problem: you can’t be like, “Can I go to the bathroom?” No, because you have to count in, right? I know I’m jumping around. I’m trying to tell the stories a little bit. You have to check in. Once, you know how we had to check in to go into the mess hall? Well, when you’re done, you have to check in and leave the mess hall, and then you’ve got to walk with a purpose. Which, walking with a purpose means you’ve got to run. You run everywhere. You run to the potty circle, then you’ve got to check in there, and everything’s on the discretion of the staff, right? So, the staff, who were in a staffly mood that day, and liked to watch people dance around and really have to go to the bathroom, or if you were a little weenie or something like that, staff didn’t really like you, what they would do is basically stall. So, you’re dancing around like, I’ve got to go, got to go, got to go. Staff just looks at you and starts laughing at you. There’s literally nothing you can do. The only thing you can do is pee on yourself, but then if you pee on yourself, you get in trouble for that. You can’t do anything. It’s one of the most miserable situations, when you have to pee really, really, really, really bad, and you’re not allowed to. Not fun. Terrible, actually.
The morning was much worse. So, let’s back up. No, let me explain after you eat. So, after you eat, you’re still in the mess hall. They yell, “Two minutes!” In two minutes, what you have to do … Mind you, this is all in silence, and everybody at the table has to do the same thing. What they would do, you’ve got to grab your tray, you’ve got to scrape your tray, you know what I’m saying? You’ve got to stack everything up, in silence, put everything together. You had your bucket for your plates and then your bucket for the trash, right? So, you’ve got to scrape the trash, put it in there, put the cups in there, lift the table, sweep under the table, sit back down, two minutes.
What happens if you didn’t do it in two minutes? Well, it all really depended on the staff. If you had a nice staff, they’d do it nicely, but if you had an asshole, then they would like to do it forcefully. So, what they would do is, they would take the scrapings, throw it on to the table, take your plates, throw it on to the table. “Do it again.” You learned it is better to do it right the first time, because the second time is always more difficult, because now you have food everywhere. So, you’ve got to scrape it off, do it again, do it again, do it again, you’re going to continuously do this until either staff is just tired of it and figures out whose fault it is why we’re not moving fast enough, and they’ll deal with that person individually, or until you guys learn to do it correctly.
Individual punishments. I’ve literally … I don’t know if any of y’all have heard people just screaming bloody Mary, like “Aah! Aah! Aah!” Just over, and over, and over, and over. So, imagine you’re eating, or it doesn’t matter what’s happening, what’s going on. This is happening (the screamin), on a normal basis. It’s not like it was a one time I was there thing. This is like a normal thing when a troubled teen would come, right? A teen that liked to talk back. A teen that would try to defend themselves. A teen that was a “troubled teen”.
You had this one guy, he was famous for this, his name was …… How do I remember his name? (no names remember) So, he’d be nose to nose. Most of these people were ex-military people, so they figured everything they were doing was perfectly fine. They’re military.
So, he’d be yelling at the top of his lungs. Spit would be coming out of his mouth, and all over your face. And his words would be, “This is not spit. Spit is when you do this.” Spit on the ground. “This is spittle. This is what comes out of your mouth when you’re yelling.” It’s funny I’ve heard that speech so many times, and watched him in front of everybody’s face nose to nose yelling and screaming at them. I still remember his favorite phrase 30 years later.
This counselor used to love to do the yelling, right? But then he had his little goon squad.They would have one counselor on the right of you, one counselor on the left of you and one counselor behind you. So, you’re basically enclosed, like a little box. Yelling straight at you. What if you flinch? What if you move your head? You don’t have to literally clench. Your hands could move and, Oh, all hell breaks loose, you are going to be restrained.
Restrained is a nice, pretty word for you’re going to get your ass whooped. You’re going to the ground, and we’re kids, and these are grown men, and they’re going to forcefully rip you to the fucking ground as hard as they can, to instill in your head, don’t ever do that again. They would restrain and take you to the ground so fast. Before you would even know, the counselor would still be right here, and because, don’t forget, you have two people on the side and one on the back. You do anything with your hands besides keep them right by your side, and don’t you dare flinch, don’t you dare make a movement. You’d better stand like a tree. It does not matter that someone is in your face, yelling at you at the top of their lungs.
If you move, you’re going down. And I’m talking about bam, you’re going down, right? They would forcibly rip your arms behind your back “Aah!” Yeah, not exaggerating at all. And you know, when you put your arm up, it really hurts, right? So, imagine, I mean you’ve still got your four staff. They’re throwing you on the ground, and they’re ripping your arm, right, and literally screaming. You’re hearing these people scream in pain. And then you get the staff, basically still holding you down, pushing you down, because you know, it’s restraining, right? And he’s still yelling at you, right? There’s been times, man, oh man, oh man. You feel bad for the person, but there’s nothing you can do. don’t try to be a hero, you know what I’m saying? It’s better them, than you. Sad to say, but that’s literally the way you think. “I’m glad that’s not me.” So, that would be one punishment.
Different punishments would be public mockery. So, they’d put an orange vest on you, remember when I told you it’s in a circle? It’s the perimeter, right? They would have your toes at the edge of the perimeter, head down with your hands behind your back for 12 hours. Staring at your feet all day long, for 12 hours. Don’t move. Remember, this was a nice consequence. If you were to move, you get to have fun, and you get restrained, right? I’ve seen a lot of my friends have to sit there for 12 hours and just stare at the ground.
Let’s talk about what happens in the morning time, when you first wake up. I know I’m dancing around, but it’s all one place, so bear with me. When you wake up in the morning, you pray to God that you wake up before the day staff. Night staff was lovely. “I need to go to the bathroom, it’s okay, there’s no check-ins, there’s nothing”. With nightstaff, you just kind of go to the bathroom, like, “Hello?” “Yes, what do you want?” “Can I go to the bathroom?” “Yeah, no problem. Go to the bathroom.” Great. Very simple, right?
Well, when day staff came, it wasn’t quite so easy. Let’s say you woke up right after staff change, and you’ve got to go to the bathroom. Well, you weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom. You hadn’t checked in. You haven’t done five minutes. I’ll explain five minutes in a minute. None of that. So, if you’ve got to go to the bathroom, the staff’s going to be like, “No, you can’t go. You haven’t checked in yet.”
I have seen a lot of my friends use the bathroom on themselves because they couldn’t hold it in. Like literally could not hold it in anymore. Staff didn’t care. It was horrible. When something like that would happen to you, you would think they would have some sort of dignity or sympathy? Oh, hell no. No, no, no. Now you were in trouble. Now you’re going to get punished, because you couldn’t hold it in anymore.
Let me explain five minutes. Five minutes. If it’s raining, don’t prepare, because that’s cheating. If they catch you cheating, you’re going to be punished. What do I mean by cheating? I’m talking about when it’s pouring down rain, and you’re like, you know what? I’m going to put my rain gear on top of my pants, I’m going to prepare. Oh, no, you’re not, because they’re going to check, and they’re going to ask, “Why did you do this?” “Because it’s raining outside.” “That’s cheating.” “Why?” “Because now, you started before the five minutes. You have to do this all in five minutes, so preparing while it’s raining outside is cheating.”
So, you learn, when it’s raining, you’re not allowed to prepare early. Oh, you think you could get up before you want to, and put your clothes on, do anything? Oh, no, no, no. They have not yelled five minutes yet. You are not allowed to move. You’d better stay in your sleeping bag. They haven’t called five minutes yet.
So, “Five minutes!” In five minutes, you better get out of your sleeping bag as fast as possible. You’ve got to throw your clothes on, tuck your shirt in, all that kind of good stuff. Roll your mat up. Roll your sleeping bag up. Make sure everything is faced the exact same way. Make sure the string on the sleeping bag is tucked in. You are not done, and you did not make your five minutes, and they will do one of two things. Let’s get there in a second.
Mind you, we’re all in silence. If you’ve got to go to the bathroom, this is miserable, because you have to do all this. If it’s raining, you have to undo your rain gear, throw your stuff on, and then sweep, sweep, sweep, as fast as you can. And this is, mind you, this is like 10 different guys all in your teepee. And run outside in a circle, ready to check in. And then you get inspected. So, I said one of two things, right? So, what happens if your string is out just a little bit? They can be like, “Everybody get back in their beds.” That means you have to strip, if it’s raining, you’ve got to take off the rain gear, fold it back up in a little ball, remember, because you can’t be prepared, and get back in your sleeping bag, and we’re going to do it again.
Well, after about two or three times of doing this, if one person’s having a problem, “Well, you’re slowing up everybody else, so we’re going to make an example out of you.” Everyone else gets to proceed and go to the bathroom. Don’t forget, you haven’t gone to the bathroom yet. And we get to start our day.
The other person, oh, no, no, no. They’re going to take all your stuff. It does not matter if it’s raining. Doesn’t matter if it’s snowing. Doesn’t matter if it’s windy. Doesn’t matter if it’s sunny. Does not matter. They’re going to take all your stuff and throw it out, Throw it out for everybody to see. And then, you’re going to be … Remember, I told you the perimeter, where if you got in trouble, you had to stand all day and look at your feet, put your hands behind your back? Well, in that same perimeter, they make you do bed drills all day long, until you become an expert at bed drills.
Why you need to be an expert at jumping out of the bed in five minutes and putting your clothes on in five minutes, I have no idea. I don’t know how this was therapy. But you’d better become an expert at five minutes.
So, after we’re done checking in … Let’s not forget, you’re going to get punished if you guys can’t check in correctly. Checking in and running was, everywhere we went, you had to check in. Remember, “One!” “Two!” “Three!” “Four!” “Five!” “Six!” “Seven!” “Eight!” “Nine!” “Ten!” “Tatonka’s checking in!” And it seems easy, but when there’s a new person, they don’t quite grasp the concept of what in the hell’s going on. Well, either you learn fast, or you’re going to get punished fast. One or the other.
After “5 minutes” you trot over to the potty circle, and check in again, the bathroom was basically a huge port-a-potty. Oh man, it used to smell terrible. For the guys, you had two wall buckets and three sit-downs. Use your imagination what a wall bucket is for and what a sit-down is. I don’t think I need to break it down that much. And then, once everyone’s done, you all can proceed to the mess hall for breakfast. Remember breakfast, I already explained what happens for food.
Then, when you’re done, you run to the bathroom, but it all depends on the staff. I was a big Black kid. I wasn’t a little kid, so I’m a little harder to abuse, if that makes any sense. Just a little bit, because again, I am a Black guy. So, they didn’t outwardly try to abuse me much. They kind of used me to abuse the other kids. I’m not stupid.I don’t want my arm broken, I don’t want to be forcefully thrown to the ground and restrained in excruciating pain. That does not sound like a good idea. So, what do I do? I follow directions! You want me to do what? Okay, let’s do it. You know what I’m saying? So, part of that, me having the, “Okay, let’s do it!” attitude wasn’t the best for the kids, and it wasn’t the best for me.
P.T. (physical training) Every day, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a broken toe before. For the first … I was there for seven weeks. Oh my God, for the first few weeks, it hurt so bad to walk. I had just broken my toe like the week before I got sent. We were playing capture the flag at Cascade, there’s a lot of lava rock there. Now, I’ve got the flag. No one could catch me. What happened is, imagine your foot I hit a lava rock and my pinky toe went up. talk about excruciating pain. Oh my goodness. I scored and went right to the doctor, like, “I can’t walk, I can’t walk, I can’t walk. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” They pushed it back down, and two days later, I’m getting sent to CEDU Ascent.
Now, I had told them I had a broken toe, and in a normal, sane world, they’d be like, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Maybe running on your foot, or walking on it all day is not the best thing for a broken toe. But we have to think that we’re in a sane world, like a humane society. Well, this was not a humane society. It was a very inhumane society. And it did not matter, I broke my toe. “You’re going to run.” “It hurts when I run.” “Sounds like a PP.” PP means a personal problem, just in case you didn’t know what that means. And a personal problem means suck it up. It’s a PP. It’s a personal problem. It’s not my problem. It’s your problem.
They would make us run. 30-minute runs, or a different type of PT. This one time, it was me and my buddy, another big kid. They used to love having us run PT. We were both bigger than a lot of the other little people there. We both had commanding voices and were both in better shape than the other kids. We were athletes. I think in his hometown, he used to play football. They put us in charge. it was kind of cool, we got to do the yelling. So, staff yells at us, and we get to yell at everybody else. There was a new guy. He was the quintessential couch potato. I don’t think he’s ever … walking to the kitchen was probably the farthest he’d ever walked. So, PT was a brand new concept for him. He’d never done any kind of physical labor. Now, using things against you is perfectly okay. Does that make sense? So, “Get up, couch potato!” “You’re so fat!” That type of stuff works. Fair game. Whatever you need to say to him to “motivate him”.
We are in control of PT, Staff’s telling us, you better motivate him, and you better do it. You didn’t have a choice, and I didn’t have a choice. What we learned from the counselors, we get real close to somebody’s face. So, when he’s trying to do something, mind you, he’s crying, He’s screaming, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” We look at the staff. “Make him do it.”
When someone doesn’t do something, when you first do it, you get frustrated. You don’t get nicer. You get meaner, right? You get louder. So, while we’re screaming and yelling at him, calling him every dirty name that we can think of that comes to our head, he’s screaming in excruciating pain, like, “I can’t do it! Aah!” Turns out he really couldn’t do it, mind you, this went on for a while, Maybe 10 minutes of us yelling at him. Staff tells him, “Get up.” He couldn’t stand up, so we had to get him up. We kind of carried him to medical care. We broke both of his legs. Stress fractures in both of his legs. He literally could not do it. His muscles, his legs, he’d never done any workouts, so his muscles weren’t capable, and the things we were having him do, he broke his legs.
Now, when something like that happens, you would think that staff would be concerned. No. What they were concerned about was the legality, and they were like, “You two don’t worry. You guys aren’t going to be in trouble.” I’m like, how would I be in trouble? I’m just following what you guys told me to do. So, they let us know that we didn’t do anything, we’re fine. Don’t worry, you guys are going to be covered. Don’t worry, you’re not getting in any trouble. And we’re like, okay, whatever.
You get two weeks to go camping. They give you a camera. like, wait a minute, they give you a camera? Yeah, then they take it away when you return to base camp. You’re not allowed to take a single picture of base camp. They didn’t want parents or anyone to see the hellhole. They’d allow everyone to see the beautiful scenery of the northern Idaho mountains. The two-week field trip was amazing. It was fun, you got away from hell. There was no yelling, there was no clean up, no potty circles. You did learn, drop some bleach your water, and then you can drink it. I don’t know how safe that is, but we learned it works. We didn’t get Giardia. We learned about the grizzly bears, and how to tell the difference between a grizzly and a black bear? Climb a tree, and if the bear pushes the tree over, it was a grizzly, and if the bear climbs up the tree to get you, it was a black bear. So, we learned that. I don’t know how that was relevant to my life today. The next time I’m in the northern Idaho woods, I’ll know the difference between a grizzly and a black bear. Other than that, whatever. Then you get back to base camp. They take your camera, they take everything from you, and you’re right back into hell.
The letters. So, it was every night, or every other night, or I don’t remember how frequent it was, you were told you had to write letters. Why didn’t you tell anybody what happened? Oh, no, no, no. You didn’t get to write a letter which you wanted to write. You were told what you could write, and you’d better follow directions, because they would read your letters on the way out. If you said anything negative about the program, your letter wouldn’t be sent, and there would be hell to pay. You had to lie, and it would be like, “Everything’s great, everything’s amazing. I’m learning so much. I’m so grateful for being here.” That’s literally what they would persuade you to say. You didn’t really have a choice. If you thought that you were going to tell your parents what was going on, you had another thing coming, and no, not fun. Not fun to watch people who thought that they were smarter than the system. Not fun at all. they were our legal guardians, by law. Because the parents had to sign over their parental rights to this place. So, by law, they’re your mom and dad, and they can do whatever they want to do, they are in control of you. You had absolutely no rights, and neither do your parents for the time, because they signed over their rights. Why the hell would you do that? I don’t know.
Shower time. This was always fun. I love this. I have eczema, my skin is very dry. I’ve had dry skin problems since I was a little kid. Well, lotion is for girls. Just letting you know. Let me tell this to the whole world. Lotion is for girls. It’s not for guys. At least, that’s what they proceeded to tell me every single time. Didn’t matter that my face felt like it was falling off, and I was in excruciating pain. It was so dry and was freezing cold in northern Idaho. Did not matter, man. Didn’t matter. Did not matter. “Lotion is for girls. Stop trying to be a girl. What are you, a girl?” “No, my face really hurts.” “That’s a PP.” Remember, a personal problem?
Shower time, two minutes. you have to, you drop your clothes, run to the shower, push the little button, you have to continuously push the stupid little button, because your water would stop. So, you’ve got to push it, push it again and wash it off, and push it again to wash your bottom half. Well, what happens if you don’t make it in two minutes? Or what happens if you have soap in your eye, and it’s a minute and 49 seconds? Or you’ve got soap all over your body? Again, it’s a personal problem, because what they would do, they turn on a water hose. Mind you, it is bloody freezing in northern Idaho at the time. They turn on the water hose, you can hear it, “Here it comes!” Some fucked up shit like that. They proceeded to take the water hose, and open the curtain. Mind you, there’s nowhere for you to run. You’re in a shower stall, it’s not very big. If you think you’re going to avoid the water, it’s impossible to avoid the water. Why? There’s only one entrance. There’s nowhere else to go. “Woo-hoo! Ha, ha, ha!” Laughing at you. “Yeah, it’s cold, huh? Ha, ha, ha.” Spray you up and down. Your ass would be freezing. They didn’t care. So, you’re literally going to have to escape the freezing cold water to get out.
Man, they got this one kid from London, horrible, dude. It was his first time. So one, they’re making fun of his accent the whole time. And then, I mean, they were excessive on what they did. It was terrible. They damn near kept him in there, and blasted him with freezing cold water, for it had to have been 30 seconds to a minute. they’re just whaling on him all through, and he’s screaming and everything like that. And I mean, he really couldn’t get out, and they’re just laughing and having a jolly good time at the expense of us.
Towards the end, I became cool with the staff, because I’m hard to break. You can’t really break me. Like, oh, you want me to run around all day? Okay, fine. I’m an athlete. My toe doesn’t hurt anymore. Oh, you want me to haul wood all day? Okay. I remember talking to one of the staff, and she’s like, “It’s not bad.” I was like, “Man, all I’m doing is working out all day. It’s like, go to school or work out all day. So, this isn’t that bad.” For everyone else, it was terrible, but for me, it wasn’t that bad. Trust between me and the program came, they started giving me an ax, so no longer did I have to saw the wood. Me and my buddy, we both got an ax, we were kind of like the teacher’s pets. Especially after we broke the guy’s legs for the staff. They figured they could trust us, I guess.
I remember, I used to, for the newer kids, because I knew the program, I remember staff used to let me be in control. Of course, I had to emulate the staff. Don’t think I got to do things my way. No, no, no. So, yelling, screaming, all that kind of good stuff. Watching the staff. “No, you can’t do this. Yes, you can.” I’m pretty good, right? That’s why, later, fast forward back to Cascade. Three weeks later, I got kicked out because I was too influential. Then I was sent right back to northern Idaho, and I had an argument with my family, and they proceeded to tell me I manipulated the program, manipulated it. After everything I just explained, how did I manipulate the program. They literally put us through hell, but I manipulated the program.
I remember screaming at them back, like, “How can I manipulate a program? I’m a person? How? So, you’re telling me I’m better than the whole bloody program? So, you’re telling me I manipulated an entire program? Please explain to me how.” Well, because I’m such a horrible person, right, and I manipulate programs, and I got kicked out for being too influential on the other students. But no, let me explain it to you, what happened that day, so then maybe you can decide if I was too influential.
So, when I got back to Cascade, remember, I didn’t get kicked out. I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t in trouble when I left. They saw something in me, and they didn’t want it to go away, so I had to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to go to child abuse.
I got back to the program, and I was in trouble. Like, wait a minute, why? Oh, because they wanted to test me, to see if I’d really changed. So, their idea of testing me … mind you, I’d been up since 2:00 in the morning. I’m so exhausted. When I get to Cascade, I’m immediately sent to a forum. Then we go eat dinner, and I’m on max times dishes. That means that now, I’m basically on work projects.
I got put on bans with everybody. I was only allowed to talk to the people I had absolutely no desire to talk to. Now, one of the staff, thank God for at least one of them, right! There’s always one that fights Herd mentality, you know what I’m saying? You can do quite a lot of horrible things to people in a herd mentality, because everybody is fucked up in the head, and so they think that what they’re doing is correct. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re correct.
One staff member, (If you remember from the Cascade story it was the larger staff that would have been the better counselor for me opposed to the smaller minority staff) thank God for this staff, He was like, “That’s wrong.” He’d seen me on max time dishes, and he’s like, “Why are you up here?” I was like, “I don’t know. I just got back from the wilderness program, and now I’m on punishment” He at least fought for me and I was able to talk to one person I enjoyed. Just one. Another athlete.
Well, I’m Black. I keep saying this. People don’t get it. All the white kids were getting sunburned, I was the only Black kid there. So, they have a big meeting, and tell everybody, “You’re not allowed to not wear your shirt.” I’m like if it doesn’t apply, let it fly. So, I’m like, that doesn’t apply to me. I don’t get sunburned. Why do I have to suffer for something that other people do? I don’t have to follow this rule, I don’t sunburn. I mean, I understand for the white kids, it makes perfect sense, but I don’t sunburn, I guess he’s talking to the white people.
Yes, it did apply to me, early in the morning, me and the other athlete, we were playing basketball. This is before anyone was awake, we were practicing, doing drills. One staff member sees us. Oh no, we had our shirts off. Criminals, right? We were criminals, had our shirts off, practicing basketball. Well, the staff didn’t take too kindly to that. Yelled at us for having our shirts off, and then proceeded to tell the headmaster on us. Two days later, I was kicked out for being too influential on the other kids.
My family heard, “Erik’s just up to no good again. He didn’t learn anything from that hellhole we just sent him to, so we’re going to fucking make his life worse, we’re going to send him to Mexico, to a lockdown program where he has nothing and he can’t do anything.” And that’s what happened.