In Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, Trails Carolina is a wilderness treatment program for troublesome teenagers. By combining experiential learning, outdoor activities, and therapeutic interventions, it promises to provide a secure and efficient substitute for traditional therapy, helping teenagers overcome obstacles and enhance their psychological health.
On the other hand, the program has also been accused of participant abuse, neglect, and even death. These are a few of the accusations and complaints against Trails Carolina employees.
Trails Wilderness Program Death
The 2014 death of 16-year-old Alec Lansing is one of the most grave complaints made against Trails Carolina. On November 10, 2014, Alec, a participant in the program, left his group. Staff reported Alec missing, and a large-scale search was launched. Eight days later, his body was discovered in a stream close to the Art Loeb Trail in the Shining Rock Wilderness.
His hip was broken in a tree fall, and hypothermia was the cause of his death, according to an autopsy. His parents sued Trails Carolina for wrongful death, claiming the program did not give their kid enough safety, care, or supervision.
Trails Carolina Abuse
The abuse and neglect of Trails Carolina participants by staff members is another common concern—stories of victims who were abused physically, emotionally, or psychologically by therapists and counselors.
Among these stories are a few:
- Forced to spend chilly nights on the ground without access to proper clothing or bedding.
- deprivation of food, drink, medicine, and personal hygiene items as a kind of control or punishment.
- Threats, gaslighting, humiliation, and verbal abuse from the staff.
- Being cut off from their relatives and peers and forbidden from speaking with them.
- Force someone to confess or acknowledge something they did not do or feel.
- Staff members’ choking, beating, kicking, or restraint.
Trails Carolina Reviews
Reviews of Trails Carolina from past participants and their families have been divided.
Some people have commended the program for helping them in resolving their problems and lead better lives. They have expressed happiness to the program for giving them useful knowledge, understanding, and assistance. They have also conveyed their appreciation for the knowledge, kindness, and professionalism of the personnel.
On the other hand, the program has drawn criticism for being traumatizing, damaging, and useless. They have charged the program of making their medical conditions worse and adding to their pain. Additionally, they have charged that the staff members are abusive, careless, and unqualified.
SUWS of the Carolina Deaths
Another wilderness rehab program available in North Carolina is called SUWS of the Carolinas. It’s owned by Aspen Education Group, a nationwide organization that manages several other programs for problematic youth. Over the years, SUWS of the Carolinas has also been connected to many participant deaths. Among these fatalities are a few that are:
In 2002, fourteen-year-old Matthew Meyer perished from heatstroke while hiking in intense heat without access to sufficient water or shade.
In 2009, fifteen-year-old Sergey Blashchishen perished from hyperthermia as a result of being compelled to wear several layers of clothing in hot weather.
In 2013, 15-year-old Caleb Jensen passed away from an illness following a spider bite while he was sleeping on the ground.
Trails Carolina News
Over the years, Trails Carolina has been covered by many media publications, both favorably and unfavorably.
Among these news reports are:
- The horrifying practices and mistreatment of outdoor rehabilitation facilities, such as Trails Carolina, were revealed in a 2022 USA Today investigation.
- A 2021 NBC News article included the endorsements and success stories of a few former campers who benefited from Trails Carolina.
- In 2018, an ABC News piece examined Alec Lansing’s death and featured an interview with his parents, who had filed a lawsuit against Trails Carolina.
Trails Carolina is a program designed for disturbed teenagers that offers wilderness rehabilitation. However, there have been allegations of abuse, neglect, and participant deaths. Numerous lawsuits, inquiries, and complaints from the program’s former participants and their families have been filed against it.
The program has also been discussed in several news articles and internet forums, both favorably and unfavorably. The program’s reputation and background are dubious and contentious.
Is Trails Carolina a safe program for troubled teenagers?
Trails Carolina, designed for wilderness rehabilitation, faces allegations of participant abuse, neglect, and deaths, raising safety concerns.
What are the main allegations against Trails Carolina?
Allegations include the 2014 death of a participant, Alec Lansing, and reports of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse by staff.
How are reviews for Trails Carolina divided?
Reviews are mixed; some praise the program for resolving issues, while others criticize it as damaging, citing concerns about worsened medical conditions and unqualified staff.