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.


13. The harder they fall

9 days later I rather surprisingly noted that I still was alive. To this very day I have no idea how I survived the many miles on what seemed to be unmapped trails. I was still on the Coyote level and it did not seem that I could progress in the program because there were some requirements to move up to enter the Eagle level which was next level. I was forced to write letters home to my mother. Before being send they were read by the staff and subjected some level of censorship so it was not all I could write. Actually, I had no desire to write to her. I would write to my father, but they wouldn’t allow it. Not even in English.


One of the requirements needed to graduate to the next level was that I had to show active participation in group therapy sessions we had every other night in the camp. It was kind of funny. Group therapy guided by two young people without so much as a single course in psychology based on a manual on the subject alone. Only a fool could have designed such a setup. Individual therapy came in the form of a psychologist who suddenly appeared in the desert, but I believed that he was of no use to me. What kind of illness should I be treated against? He got an F-word when we first met.


The psychologist understood my reluctance, but let me let me understand that he was part of the key to my release and that the firm which ran the wilderness program also ran boarding schools where the firm gave 50 percent discount on first month's payment if the wilderness program proved to be insufficient to fix the problems. And he was the person who could tell my parents about whether I was healed or not. I might as well work with him or risk that some weeks stay in the wilderness program could turn into months stay at a boarding school.


Although the group therapy sessions were based on the lack of leadership, so I still learned a lot about the other 3 other students.
Misha as I had spoken most with had a good life, but there had been too much partying in her high school life. She had been expelled from his school because of that she had been drunk. They had tested her and had found both alcohol and pot in her tests. She would be welcomed back at her old school if she completed the wilderness program.


Lindsay had not been in school the last two years. She had dropped out of what they call middle school and had been partying ever since. She had a reputation for running away and every evening they took her boots. I had earned the right to keep mine near the tent so I did not have to go barefoot if I had to pee at night.


Mickey was just strange. His parents had been unable to house him and some relatives had taken him in because he would otherwise be placed at a group home which was not run by Mormons. There was just something wrong with him all the way, but otherwise he was nice enough.


Robert was depressed. He had cut himself. He had tried to self-medicate with marijuana. In the program he went with the stream if you could say so. It was him who led the verbal attacks against me during therapy sessions. After the initial shock I figured him out. By exposing me, he removed the focus from his issues and the two young fools who were in the driving seat of the circus which was the best word I could think of for the group sessions didn’t see that he played them.


One day when we had to pass a small stream Kathy slipped in the water. She sprained her ankle. Peter got hold of the head office and Kathy was transported to a hospital. A new guide called Leslie replaced her. She told that she had a vacation from the university where she studied psychology. I thought it was time to attack Robert.


At the next meeting it was again my drinking and my relationship with John who was under attack. I took the chance, "Yes, I drink alcohol in Denmark because I am a Dane. It is my right as a Dane to enjoy alcohol. We have laws that give us these opportunities and our laws are made based on objective research free from the shackles of form of a hypocritical religion. You can believe what you want about our way of life, but everything that I've made and I stand by to have made is legal in Denmark. When you one day may be released from this wilderness program, so you can take a computer and look up our laws. You don’t have to like our lifestyle, nor even about our country. But I had not broken any laws. Robert: It's more than what you can say if you like. Did you not use illegal drugs?” (Misha had provided me some information because she was tired on Robert’s methods).


Robert blushed. "I don’t need to listen to this. Remember what I told during earlier group therapy sessions." He was clearly under pressure.


Leslie asked him to elaborate because she was new. I could tell that she had seen a crack in Robert's emotional defense. A crack she could penetrate. Robert broke down. He told me about the accident that sent his mother in a wheelchair and the destruction of his family structure. I was quite bad having pressured him to tell all the things to strangers.


As I lay in my sleeping bag that evening I had trouble falling asleep. Had I failed one of the group members? If I had it went against all my principles. At home in the social housing project I lived in there was an unwritten rule that no matter how little that you liked another from the neighborhood, you kept your mouth close to the school, the social services and the police. Back home I had opted for John and his friends. Here I had been forced into the group but it was still a group. Was it not us against the system or was every man for himself?


Suddenly I realized that the wilderness program had changed me and in a way which I found bad. You see: In my mind I was not supposed to be a person who is a leader. In Denmark I was a follower - the one who hung out with the group and did what John and his friends asked of me. Back on the wilderness program something had also changed. After that day attack Robert never attacked us on therapy sessions. He kept talking about his problems and although we tried to give some words of comfort on the road, so it was both draining and boring to listen to all the time.

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