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.


12. The death march

Next morning suddenly unknown two people appeared in the camp. They presented themselves as Kathy and Peter. They were our new guides. Nancy and Brad were gone. The two new guides were not much older than us. Misha told me that it was normal that the wilderness programs hired young people who had just finished high school and was almost as new in nature as us. The idea was that we were better able to open up and talk to them because they looked like us. The senior guides who demanded higher salaries were only used when new students entered the group, at graduation or if they had a difficult student which demanded individual treatment which was not something I ever should wish for. Individual treatment would mean isolation from the group and constant harassment from counselors 24/7.


They ordered us to pack the camp down so we could hike. They advised me how to pack my backpack. It looked rather heavy. When ready I tried to stand up only to fall back on to the ground ending up like a turtle unable to move. Peter remarked "Someone is new to this" Everyone laughed. 


It turned out that the backpack weighted more than 40 pounds. Were they insane? They stood firm. I got help to get up and I now knew that I would prefer not to sit down. We started to hike. After a few miles I was completely dead. The other students did not appear as they would complain. I do not know how long we had been underway before that I felt dizzy. Misha caught up to me. "You must remember to drink." I drank some of the water and continued. Peter and Kathy looked as if they were talking about something and after some time they began to debate. They were evidently not agreeing on the direction. We had now hiked for what I later was told was 2 hours. We students were not allowed a watch because we should free ourselves for the minute-tyranny we were subjected to at home.


Suddenly I could not walk a single step anymore. I sat down and due to the weight of the backpack I ended up like a turtle on its back once more. Peter came over to me and demanded that I got up. I refused. Kathy came and pulled me up to on my feet. I was going to drop down again when Peter put his hand into my armpit and pushed some fingers upward. It hurt and I screamed in pain. I tried to kick out at him and immediately took Kathy my hand and twisted my wrist so it also hurt. They continued to maintain their grip until I promised to get on without protest.


Through search on the web I learned that the method they used was called Positive Control System, which I find rather misleading. How could it be positive to have your joints twisted or to get fingers stuck into your armpits or up under your cheekbone? The later I painfully tried when I refused to hike a couple of miles further that day.


I staggered on until we came to a table that stood in the middle of the field. On the table there were new water bottles, bread and some fruit. We ate standing up because we were all under so much pressure that it would require quite painful help from staff to come up and stand again if we sat down.


We continued our hike for maybe an hour. It was very hot and I was dizzy again. I tried to drink, but I vomited when I tried. Kathy came up to me and forced me to drink until I got a bit down. We started walking again. We did not seem to be going anywhere. Then I fell and blanked out.


I woke surrounded by the others. The nurse from the office was there too and she had given me a drop of liquid. They had radioed the office for assistance and she had arrived so I could get help. Peter raged because we had not reached the planned goal for today, but the nurse told us to camp here because I needed the rest.


We camped and Kathy gave me a notebook. In the book I had to write the experiences of the day so I could share my experience with the psychologist later that week. In the book, there also were some detailed personal questions about alleged abuse, relationships and habits of the latter. I found it offending; As if I would pour my life on paper against a foreign psychologist that I had been forced to consult.


When we had eaten and we were in our tents I could not fall asleep. Today I had been close to death. Would I survive the wilderness program? Was it what you would call a survival course?


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