Janice's journey

This biography is made based on the diary of a young woman who lived in many years in Denmark before she went on a holiday at her birthmother’s county. Her values and morale is based on her upbringing in Denmark which some might consider offending. However in order to truly understand how she experienced her stay in the United States the cultural influences has to be considered a major contributor to her choices both before, under and after her stay.

Second the names of individual youth transport firms, wilderness programs and boarding schools are not mentioned. It is not a question about being for or against various companies offering emotional growth. It is strictly a story about how Janice as she has chosen to call herself experienced a number of incidents which left life changing marks on her adult life.

This biography is co-authored because Janice wanted to have her story published in both Danish and English.


15. Flood and salvation

A few days later we were making our way down into a valley where it was supposed that we had to make camp and wait for the weekly visits from the psychologist. It was then that dark clouds appeared. Peter looked frightened.  Orders came from him with a panicking voice: “Storm is coming. We must camp. At once! ”


We had just made it putting the tents up when it started to rain. Soon after sky and earth was united. There were lightings. Because no trees were out there it was actually quite threating. Peter looked more and more pale. Before long he was in a panic. He was supposed to be a guide, a role-model and it was him who lost his mind. Suddenly he began to cry. It was then I became seriously worried. He had been the one who had taken the lead among the adults. Leslie took the radio and asked for assistance. A jeep came to the camp driven by a very harsh looking man. I understood that it was the third guide that normally would monitor our group from a distance. Misha told me his name was Chuck. He had caught a boy who had run away from the wilderness program when she arrived at the group a few weeks before me.


Chuck and Leslie tried to get Peter to relax. It was then that Lindsay took my arm. “Please come. We will leave. We might never get a better chance”. Because of the somewhat chaotic situation when we made camp they had not taken her boots yet.


We sneaked away. We had made a few kilometers away when we could hear them calling. The rain and thunder continued. Lindsay led the way. It was as if she knew where we were going. Perhaps we had walking for half an hour when Lindsay led me to a ditch half-filled with water. We lay in the mud and she told us to wait until the storm calmed down before we went on.


It took maybe a few hours before we were on the run again. By now it was dark and I could not understand how she would continue. Lindsay told me that she had learned to know the area in connection with a previous escape. She had a photographic memory, but her skills in the wilderness were limited. That why she had been caught many times before. Could she just make to a civilized area then she knew that she could get help. It was what she needed my help. She had been on course for 6 weeks and had been moved between different groups after each escape attempt. She had never seen some being able to make fire so quickly after being sent to the wilderness program as I had been able to.


We continued to walk all night. When we saw the first light in the morning Lindsay said that we needed to find a place where we could wait for the evening. She had been so smart to take some water bottles along which she had filled when we was hiding in the ditch. The water did not taste good, but we could survive the day. We rested in the shade of some rocks. Periodically we moved a little bit. At one point a Jeep drove on a dirt road a few kilometers away. Lindsay reassured me that the wilderness programs in the area generally do not involve the authorities for the first 72 hours. Could we make it out of the wilderness and call home then the authorities would not get involved due to costs. There would be no helicopter watching for us and the police would not make road block. Everything was about money.


It was night again and we continued walking. Our plan was to go west when many teenagers would normally choose to make it back to Loa which was the largest town in the region. But Loa housed various wilderness programs and boarding schools. This means that the whole town was dependent on a single industry. Everybody in the town would turn us in. So Loa was excluded as a safe haven. Lindsay told me that we instead should reach Otter Creek which was a lake. People came from far and wide to fish rainbow trout. All we had to do was to get access to a phone then Lindsay's friends would help us from there.


Since it was early morning so we rested again. We saw not any cars all day. It was clear that the employees as the wilderness program may have thought that we had walked towards Loa. While we rested Lindsay told me about her life.


Lindsay was born in Boheme, which is a suburb of New York. Her father had a contract with the Army and was often stationed abroad. Her mother was an assistant in a real estate company. It was her job to change the decor in people's houses so they were easier to sell. Sometimes she would remove all of the original furniture and replace it with rented furniture. Her mother was very career minded, so Lindsay had been left to live with her grandmother, who died when Lindsay was 13 years. It had been a great loss to Lindsay and she got more and more desire to be with friends instead of spending her time with her mother who hadn’t time for her anyway. I understood her so well.  Despite being the best father in the world, my father hadn’t been able to cover for me missing a mother. John and his friends became a kind of replacement for the family I felt I missed.


Lindsay was sent away the first time when she was 14. She was sent to wilderness program in North Carolina. She escaped. Then she came to a place in Utah and again she ran away. She was home for a period before she was sent to this wilderness program. The plan was that she should go to a boarding school in Vermont owned by the same firm which ran the wilderness program.


We talked about our lives and our guys. Although Lindsay was a year younger than me, so she had had three guys. One was 21 which I found to be a relic belonging to a museum.


In evening we continued our walk. Now there were many hills. We had probably gone half the night, when suddenly there was light on the road a few miles away. We fell to the ground at once. The car stopped and a search light was used. Had they discovered us? What would happen to us if we got caught? I've never been so scared in my life before. It took 10 minutes before the car started again and drove on.


In the morning we rested waiting on the next night. We had a problem. We had no more water. I found some leaves from a plant that Peter had explained to us was edible and which we would be forced to live off if we spent our ration of food ahead of time. Our ration was 2,000 calories of per day, which was a requirement authorities in Utah had dictated after several teenagers had died in 1990’s in a similar wilderness programs. On the web you can find a movie about a boy named Aaron Bacon who died some decades ago. It will show you how tough the wilderness programs were back then. When I think of my stay at the wilderness program today the most traumatic for me was not the wilderness program itself, but the things that led up to it. I did not like being forced to share my problems during the group therapy session. Had God not intervened I had no idea how long it would have taken for me to graduate the program.


I had never been that thirsty before. By now it was afternoon. It was hot and the sun burned. I would like to start walking, but Lindsay said that it was now about discipline. We have to wait until it was dark and we most likely we would make it to the lake in the morning.


Finally, it was evening. It was hard to get up the hills. A whole day without water had drained me of my energy. I had to force myself to take every step I took. I do not know how long we had been underway before Lindsay stopped and said that we were there. Over the hilltop, I could see a huge lake. I would like to run down to fast, but Lindsay stopped me. She said that there could be tourists camping nearby and we therefore had to be very careful. There were also local residents who lived in the area and managers of campsites who would recognize us as teenagers on the run. They could alert the authorities and we would end up back at the wilderness program before we could count to 10.


It was near dawn before we were down by the lake. Never have plain water tasted so well. Lindsay told me that there was a rest area at the southern end of the lake. That's where we should go.

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