Some people go to the army, others end up in jail, and still others spend their adulthood talking about summer camp. For me, I spent my adulthood and my adolescence doing my best to explain to the world what in the fuck a therapeutic boarding school was, how I ended up there, what it was like, and how I escaped. The underworld of boarding schools for troubled teens is a universe many don’t know about (other than me, Dash Snow, and apparently Paris Hilton). So let me do my best to explain what being at a therapeutic boarding school for 22 months is actually like…

My Experience at America’s Most Notorious Therapeutic Boarding School

The therapeutic boarding school I went to was in the Appalachian Mountains of north Georgia and claimed it was a behavioral boarding school meant for fucked up teens such as myself, but it was a far more dangerous atmosphere than many, including my parents, ever thought possible. For starters, there was no school. Well, I shouldn’t say no school. There were a couple days a week that we spent in classrooms, but my Spanish teacher was the chef and didn’t speak or know any Spanish whatsoever, and if he didn’t like your behavior in class, you were sent outside to do physical training. Nothing was taught. 

The day I got there I was stripped naked and made to bend over in front of strangers so they could inspect my ass so if anything was plunged so deeply in there that it had to be jarred loose, it would fall out. I swore to myself I would somehow get out; that I would escape immediately, but I was there for two years until I ran away for good. My first attempt to escape was on Christmas of 1999, but I never made it. Instead I got lost in the sea of woods surrounding the premises and nearly froze to death. Luckily, the Sheriff found me and shackled my feet and handcuffed my wrists and brought me to jail.

Scary Gary was the head of night security. He was the one that came and picked me up from that jailhouse the Sheriff brought me to. I was with a few of my friends that I ran away with who I don’t really keep in touch with. We were all brought back and strip searched upon arrival in the same fashion that I was strip searched on my very first day there, when the two large private investigators dumped me off at the admin. Unlike Paris Hilton, I wasn’t taken from home, I was ripped from a rehab in Louisiana that I had already been at for six months and shoved in a car and brought to the New Orleans airport. That’s not the point. The point is I was put on what was referred to as “Isolation” when I got back from my failed runaway. That’s even worse than being put on Restrictions…

Therapeutic Boarding School Punishment – Isolation

Isolation was one of the worst parts about being at that therapeutic boarding school. It was a horrible eight days held captive in a place they called “Isolation Cabin,” full of physical labor and little food and army beefheads making fun of every move I made. One day we woke up in a basement on the mildewy carpet and were told to run up and down this hill till we were about to vomit. Then we could eat a cheese sandwich from the dirty pavement, pick the dirt from out my teeth, finish half an apple and then carry an icy tree up a ridge. My friend Jon started throwing up and the army rangers laughed at what a pussy he was. And it wasn’t even ten in the morning yet…

Should I try to go back to jail? Yes. I should. But there was no way out. I thought about bashing a cement brick through one of the army rangers’ heads so I could get some food in prison, but I couldn’t even get that far. Every move I made that was not a move I was given to make was met with a threat to beat me and take away my clothes and food. They even made us get into a cold creek in the middle of December and stand in it till I felt like I might pass out. All this is not to complain, just sharing what an average month in the life at a behavioral boarding school is like.

Behavioral Boarding School Hacks 

teen talking to psychologist about drug addiction

While there I became a vegetarian because it was the only way I could get the cheese sandwiches rather than the grade Z meat they tried to slather on the two shitty pieces of bread they fed us for lunch and dinner. That was my diet for two years: three cheese sandwiches, an apple and a bowl of shit-ass soup. And for breakfast it was two non-sugary cereals with an apple and milk. So to avoid the grade negative Z ham sandwiches, I claimed I was a vegetarian for spiritual reasons and stayed a vegetarian till 9/11 when I saw some guy throw his Whopper away in the trash. I hadn’t eaten in days and so I went through the trash and grabbed his Whopper and ate it and that was the end of me being a vegetarian.

You can’t get kicked outta therapeutic boarding school even if you try. At one point I broke into the dormitory during “Lower Left Field” time. That’s when you have to be outside doing… well, doing nothing. But you can’t sit down or else there’s punishment. No more punishment, please. But I broke into the dorm anyway and took my chance so I could hide out under my bed so I didn’t have to walk aimlessly for three hours straight. Turns out they figured out I wasn’t there when they did one of their regular roll calls and I was nowhere to be found. They took me off of “General Pop” and put me on “Restrictions,” where I had to be outside all day and not shower and do intense labor, but not as intense as isolation. It went General Pop, Restrictions, Isolation, Wilderness. Wilderness was the last resort.

Boarding School for Troubled Teens – The Last Resort

I was sent to Wilderness in Utah one morning when I was told to sleep in a sleeping bag at the bottom of dorm one (I was living in dorm two) in front of security. Did I mention there was surveillance all over the ceilings of my dorm? Well, there was. Anyway, I asked on that night why I was now sleeping in a foreign dorm not in my bed but in a sleeping bag on the floor below night security, but nobody told me shit. I had no idea what was happening. The cold air of the night put me to sleep and woke me up around three or so in the morning. The biblical headmaster kneeled above me and told me my parents were okay with this. Two large men stood behind him. More large men, I thought. They threw me in a car and took me to an airport and off we went to Salt Lake City.

You might be wondering what my parents thought of all this. Well, they didn’t know. I was only allowed to write them letters but the letters were read by my evil counselors and the sentences they didn’t like were crossed out in red ink and I was made to redo the letter until there were no bad things about the therapeutic boarding school in there, and until it sounded like I was making serious progress.

“All fixed mom! Thanks for your help!” Is what they wanted to read…

As far as phone calls were concerned, if you were on “General Pop,” you were allowed a ten minute supervised phone call. Basically I had to call my parents in a small room with a guard hanging over me taking notes and ready to clip the call if anything leaked outta my mouth that sounded like it might paint the behavioral boarding school in a bad light. 

Then Life Got Even Worse…

When I got back from Wilderness after about five or six weeks of serious outdooring, I was brought back to the boarding school for troubled teens and told I would be pushed back to “Peer Group 45.” I had previously been in “Peer Group 34,” which meant my release date shoulda been August 17th of 2001. Now it would be May of 2002. That’s a total of thirty fucking months I was supposed to be there. That in addition to the six months I was at the in-patient facility in Louisiana and the other month I was at the in-patient in Minnesota before I even made it to Louisiana. I was almost seventeen by then and I had been in the system since I was fourteen. I couldn’t take it anymore. I devised a plot to escape.

On the day I was supposed to be released, I ran away to the Greyhound bus station and successfully boarded a bus to Providence, Rhode Island with one goal in mind: To live like Kerouac and run like I had never run before; to never get caught. To fuck girls and hitchhike anywhere. It was on that day I made a promise to myself that I would live the most interesting and free life I could possibly live. And that’s how it all started…

Welcome to Scrambled Gregs. A man with a mission.

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