This is a  staff list for Odyssey Wilderness Programs in Bellingham, WA

(locations: Bellingham, San Juan Islands, and Joshua Tree, CA)

(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)

 

We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at the Odyssey Wilderness Programs.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm.  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Odyssey Wilderness Programs, you have the right to take action. 

 

If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Odyssey Wilderness Programs, please contact info@heal-online.org if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.  This will help!   Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.

 

HEAL is currently investigating Odyssey Wilderness Programs.

 

Name

Unit/Position

Additional Information
Timothy A. Brockman Program Director/Founder  
Nate E. Reiss Therapist  
Sarah J. Brockman Admissions  
Charley Jones Field Manager  
Christian Thor Logistics  
Earl Brockman Academics Director  
*(Odyssey Wilderness Programs, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices.  Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience.  Thank you for your help.)
HEAL Report: Review of the Odyssey Wilderness Programs' Enrollment Materials

(This review does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.  If you need legal assistance, please contact an attorney.)

This review is based on the enrollment materials available online through odysseynw.com on November 3rd, 2010.  The enrollment materials we are reviewing include:  Physical Examination Form, Application for Admission, Admissions Interview, and Enrollment Agreement.  Please click on the links in the previous sentence to open the complete forms provided by Odyssey.  We include them for those who desire further contextualization.  In this review, we will be quoting from Odyssey's documents followed by our review of those quotes.  We will not be continually linking to the enrollment materials throughout the remainder of the review and advise those who desire further contextualization to open the packet in a separate window while reading through the review.

Physical Examination Form Quotes (Pages 1-3)

"Odyssey Wilderness Program (OWP) courses vary in length from 28 to 56 days."

"Weather conditions can be moderately inclement with average temperatures ranging from 35-80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prolonged storms, precipitation, high winds, intense sunlight, sudden immersion in cold water, and/or high seas are possible conditions a participant may experience."

"Physical demands on the applicant may include carrying a backpack weighing between 25-55 pounds over uneven terrain such as sand, rocks, boulders, wet logs, or slippery surfaces, as well as ascending and descending steep embankments.  Elevations for backpacking expeditions range from sea level to approximately 6,000 feet."

"Physical demands of longboat sailing expeditions require rowing loaded boats for extended periods of time and hauling course equipment between the longboat and the shore each day.  Physical demands of rock climbing expeditions require climbing up or scaling natural rock formations and providing a belay to other program participants."

"While participating in an OWP course, students will sleep outdoors, set up their own camp, prepare their own meals, and participate in long, physically demanding days."

"OWP provides potable water or disinfects all drinking and cooking water with water filtration, iodine, or by boiling."

"Prior physical conditioning is beneficial, but not necessary, to the applicant, as OWP courses are designed to accommodate unfit participants." [Page 1]

"Female Applicants Only"

"Previous pregnancy or abortion?"

"Has the patient had sexual intercourse within the last year?" [Page 2]

"STUDENT NAME"

"DOB" [Page 3]

HEAL Comments/Concerns

There is a minor discrepancy between the minimum length of stay in the physical examination form and the enrollment agreement (to be discussed below).  On page 1 of the enrollment agreement, the minimum length of stay is 29 days and the physical examination form claims the minimum stay is 28 days.  It is a negligible discrepancy and not an area of concern.

On page 6 of the enrollment agreement (to be discussed below), the age range for children enrolled in the program is 13-18 years old.  Being exposed to extreme weather and natural conditions is hazardous for anyone and we will discuss the issues with the lack of accountability on the part of Odyssey Wilderness Programs when we discuss the enrollment agreement later in this review.  Physicians advise that children should carry no more than 15% of their body weight in the form of a backpack.  (Source: http://www.dcberk.com/factsaboutbackpacks.html) So, if your child weighs 130 pounds, they should carry a backpack that weighs no more than 19.5 pounds.  That is 5.5 pounds lighter than the lightest estimate provided by Odyssey in regards to the weight of their packs.  The average height of a 13-year old girl in the US is estimated to be 5'3" (source:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/259005-the-average-height-of-a-teenage-girl/)  and the average weight for that height is 128 pounds (source: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/height_weight.shtml).  The average height of a 13-year old boy in the US is estimated to be 4'7" to 5'1" (source: http://growth-chart.findthebest.com/question/23/703/What-is-the-average-height-for-a-13-years-year-old-Male-youth-in-the-US).  The average/healthy weight for a 13-year old boy of average height is approximately 134 pounds (source:  http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/height_weight.shtml).  As stated, if the average weight of a 13-year old boy or girl is approximately 130 pounds, they should carry no heavier a backpack than 19.5 pounds.  This raises serious concerns regarding the long-term health effects of the rigorous backpacking and physical requirements of the Odyssey Wilderness Programs.  According to Dr. David Berkebile: (Source: http://www.dcberk.com/factsaboutbackpacks.html)

"Each year, I grow more concerned as I see children with problems associated with backpacks. Complaints include headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and numbness into the arms and hands. Studies show a direct connection to these problems being associated to an overloaded and ill-fitted backpacks. The body is trying to compensate for the change caused by the backpack’s added weight. The spine in particular, can be affected as it bends and twists to reposition this added backpack weight. When this happens pain usually results.

Other problems associated with backpack overload is conditions called “Cervicobrachial syndrome and or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome”. A heavily loaded backpack causes the shoulder straps to compress delicate nerves, arteries and veins passing underneath. This can lead to numbness and tingling in the arms."

It is very unwise to subject children to physical demands that can lead to lifelong pain and disability.  And, this is a serious concern.

Are the demands of this program too demanding and does your family doctor understand the risks and likelihood of injury of even a healthy and athletic child in a program like Odyssey Wilderness?  These are serious matters to consider prior to enrolling any child in any wilderness or extremely physically demanding program.

As we continue through this review we will go over sections that claim children are not forced to participate in any activity at Odyssey.  However, the use of coercion by claiming food, shelter, or other basic needs will be denied if the participant does not participate may be a relevant concern.  A HEAL volunteer has e-mailed Odyssey Wilderness and is awaiting a response to some of the questions and concerns raised in this review.  That message was sent on September 3rd, 2011.

How is a young  woman's history of pregnancy and/or abortion relevant in their ability to participate in the Odyssey Wilderness Programs (OWP)?  This is a serious concern as such is very personal information that could be exploited to traumatize a girl who has been through an already trying experience.  What business is it of OWP if a female is sexually active and why does this question only pertain to female participants and not all prospective participants equally?  This is a serious concern and raises issues of equality and gender bias in regards to the OWP programs.

The requirements of an enrolling participant's name and date of birth are not a concern.  However, the requirement of this information coupled with the requirement of the participant's social security number which is required on the application for admission provides enough information for unscrupulous individuals who may have access to the information to commit identity theft or similar damage to the enrolling participant.  This is a concern.

Application for Admission Quotes (Pages 1-7)

"Expected Course Length"

"Do you anticipate your child will attend a secondary placement post-Odyssey?  If yes, where:"

"Date of Birth"

"Student's Social Sec. #:"

"Race"

"Religion"

"How did you hear about us?"

"Consultant" [Page 1]

"Insurance Information"

"Policy Holder SS#:" [Page 2]

"Behavior History.  Please check all that apply: Abortion...Adoption...Depression...Arrest History...Current Legal Issues...Defensive Behaviors...Alcohol Use/Abuse...Drug Use/Abuse...Suicide Ideation...Suicide Attempt...Trauma...Grief/Loss...Sexual/Gender Identity...Manipulation...Learning Disabilities...Promiscuity...Sexual Abuse...Sexual Acting Out..." [Pages 3-4]

"Previous Wilderness [Placement]"

"On probation"

"Substance Abuse History" [Page 5]

"Please describe any significant additions, losses, or changes in the family composition:"

"Sibling Information:" [Page 6]

"$125 Application Fee"

"$12,905 for the four-week program, plus $1,200 enrollment [fee]"

"BIRTH CERTIFICATE"

HEAL Comments/Concerns

It appears that the maximum length of stay at OWP is 56 days.  If a child does not graduate at the end of 56 days, does OWP offer extended stays beyond the 56 days referenced in the Physical Examination Form?  If not, what programs does OWP refer to when unable to meet the needs of its participants?  HEAL has submitted this question to OWP via an e-mail sent on September 3rd, 2011 and we are awaiting their response.

HEAL generally advises families not to enroll children in behavior modification programs due to ongoing issues of deceptive marketing, fraud, and abuse reported by survivors and their families.  Please see www.heal-online.org/faqs.htm and www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for important information.

It is a concern that OWP requires the social security number and date of birth of applicants.  This information can be misused and cause serious harm to individuals in the event of such misuse.  Public schools and services are not permitted to require that individuals provide their social security number for educational services.  And, OWP should explain why they require such information.

It is an additional concern that OWP requires applicants to name their "race" and "religion".  This information is also not required by public schools and services and is often listed as "optional" by both public and private service providers due to non-discriminatory policies.

Often, programs in this industry compensate or provide "kickbacks" to educational consultants and referrers.  This raises ethical concerns and families who have been referred by a referral agent should investigate whether their is any financial or in-kind compensation for such referrals. 

It is a minor concern that one of the parents is most likely the policy holder of health insurance covering their minor child enrolling in the program.  And, providing your social security number and other pertinent personally identifying information to an unlicensed and/or not properly accredited program may put your family in jeopardy.

OWP is not a licensed mental health services provider.  In the e-mail sent to OWP on September 3rd, 2011, HEAL raised this concern among others.  OWP is not a licensed drug rehabilitation facility.  The questions and behavioral history list suggest OWP is qualified to provide services for children with the listed issues.  However, this appears not to be the case and we will address this in our review of the Enrollment Agreement below.  It is a serious concern that sexual/gender identity are listed as "behavioral issues" and suggests that OWP may conduct "reparative therapy" which has been found to be harmful and ineffective when assisting homosexual youth

Again, HEAL generally advises families not to enroll children in behavior modification programs due to ongoing issues of deceptive marketing, fraud, and abuse reported by survivors and their families.  Please see www.heal-online.org/faqs.htm and www.heal-online.org/warn.htm for important information.  If you have already subjected your child to a wilderness program, it is likely not an effective means of dealing with "presenting issues".  It is recommended that parents review the parenting guide at www.heal-online.org/parent.htm as well and consider out-patient family therapy and learning effective family communication skills as well as the importance of mutual respect in all family relationships.

If your child is required to enter into a treatment program as a condition of probation, please be cautious and informed regarding the options available.  Also, if you believe your child's rights are being violated, please contact a civil rights attorney for assistance.

Again, OWP is not a licensed drug rehabilitation program and it is a concern that OWP inquires about such implying qualification for providing drug rehabilitation services.

Families should be careful in what information they disclose about their children.  It can feel like a violation of trust for a child's personal pain and suffering to be shared with strangers without their knowledge or consent.  This is especially true when those strangers are not licensed medical nor mental health professionals that are not legally required to respect the confidentiality of the information.  Some programs in this industry have used changes, traumas, or losses in the family or child's life to cause additional trauma and harm to the individual.  This is a concern.

Often, programs in this industry request sibling information so they and/or their associates can attempt to enroll other children in the family.  This is an exploitative reason for requesting the information and raises additional concerns.

If a family were to enroll a child in this program for one calendar year, the minimum cost including the application and enrollment fee would amount to $156,185.  This is more than triple the cost of a year at Harvard University with Room, Board, Campus Counseling Services, and Books.  "Harvard University will increase tuition next school year by 3.8 percent, the school announced yesterday, bringing the annual cost of a Harvard education, including room and board, to $50,724." (Source: boston.com, March 19th, 2010)  If OWP were to accept responsibility for their own misconduct or negligence that results in serious injury or death, charging such an extraordinary amount may be reasonable.  However, as will be discussed in the review of the enrollment agreement, such is not the case.  The extraordinary costs suggest that OWP is a profit-driven program that has little or nothing to do with appropriate treatment for children and their families.

The requirement of the birth certificate is a concern for the same reasons the requirement of the social security number and other personally identifying information is a concern.  Such documents and information can be misused and cause serious harm to individuals who share that information. 

Admissions Interview Quotes (Pages 1-3)

"Your thorough answers will help our Treatment Team develop treatment goals that are tailored to your unique child and family.  This interview may also be used as a screening tool in the determining your child's appropriateness for the program."

"Describe any past or recent traumatic events or significant changes in your child's life."

"What are your child's primary behavioral and/or emotional issues?" [Page 1]

"Please list any drugs (include legal and illegal substances, OTC drugs, tobacco, caffeine, etc.) or alcoholic beverages your child may have consumed recently, or in the past, and describe the frequency and intensity of your child's usage."

"Is your child sexually active?  If yes, since when and with whom?"

"Describe your child's friends and social relationships.  Does he or she make friends easily?  Does he or she maintain friendships over time?  Are your child's friends similar in age and/or gender to him or her?"

"Is he or she influenced by any peer groups?  In what ways?"

"Would you describe your child as a natural leader or follower?"

"Are there any problems specifically related to his or her social environment (e.g., death or loss of a friend; discrimination; adjustment to life-cycle transitions, such as leaving home; etc.)"

"Family Patterns"

"Describe the student's relationship with his or her mother." [Page 2]

"Describe any special needs your family has related to religion, nationality, or ethnic identity."

"What specifically would you like your son or daughter to achieve at Odyssey?" [Page 3]

HEAL Comments/Concerns

It is a serious concern that OWP calls its staff a "Treatment Team" when it is not a licensed behavioral health, mental health, drug rehabilitation, nor medical program/facility.  This will be discussed in greater detail in the review of the enrollment agreement below.

Often, programs in this industry will use past traumas as a point of re-traumatizing a child by aggressively confronting the traumas or using the traumas as a basis to claim an inadequacy or fault on the part of the child that they may argue resulted from the child's actions or failures to act in given traumatic situations.  This is a serious concern as it can cause severe psychological harm and make healing from past traumas difficult or impossible.

OWP is not a licensed mental health services provider and does not have licensed mental health professionals on staff according to the enrollment agreement.  This will be further developed in the review of the enrollment agreement below.  Because of this, HEAL believes it is misleading on the part of OWP to speak to families in terms of "behavioral/emotional issues".

OWP is not a licensed drug rehabilitation program.  It is an additional concern that over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and caffeine are listed by OWP as drugs that may be used/abused by children being enrolled in the program.  HEAL understands that caffeine can be addictive.  However, it is not an illicit drug and should not be included in any drug rehabilitation recommendation.  The fact that OWP lists caffeine raises further concerns regarding OWP's possible association and/or religious conversion plans for children enrolled.  Some religions ban caffeine and consider it a contraband substance.  Caffeine is a legal substance and legally obtainable by teens.  Most high schools and middle schools sell caffeinated beverages to students.  Regardless of the health implications of such, it is perfectly legal and not something for which children should be institutionalized or shamed.

It is invasive and inappropriate for OWP to ask parents about their children's sex lives and sex partners.  It is further inappropriate to ask that parents name the partners they believe their children have been with sexually.  This is an issue that should only be addressed with the teen directly and only when the teen feels ready to talk about it with an adult who has earned his/her trust. 

Particularly smart or talented children sometimes have difficulty maintaining friendships with children their own age because their intelligence and talents make relating to their peers by age difficult.  Such does not suggest a maladjustment on the part of the smart and talented child.  It suggests that society and our schools are not properly identifying and supporting children who are particularly smart and talented.  Parents are advised to read "Reclaiming Our Children" by Dr. Peter Breggin for more information.

Adults are as susceptible to conforming to peer pressure as youth.  Adults laugh at inappropriate jokes told by "leaders" or higher-ranking officials at their places of employment.  And, it is a lifelong struggle for many to be assertive and confident enough to avoid negative peer and/or authority influences when choosing how to respond in given situations.  Schools are not so different from places of employment.  And, sometimes children will go along with something that is "wrong" in order to "make the grade" or be accepted by their peers.  Parents/adults often go along with something that is "wrong" in order to keep their jobs; gain acceptance in the workplace; and/or achieve higher status/financial awards for compliance and apparent agreement with employers/management who do the wrong thing.  It is not an issue that can be resolved with 28-56 days in a wilderness program.

The notion of "leaders" and "followers" is disturbing.  And, parents are not mental health professionals nor sociologists.  Determining whether a child has a healthy perspective, good self-esteem, adequate self-respect, and confidence to take a stand when faced with conflict/confrontation/harm is best left to individuals who are qualified to make such determinations.  The fact that OWP may pinhole children into only one of two categories is a serious concern and suggests an inadequate basis for their treatment model.

Again, programs in this industry will often use past traumas as a point of re-traumatizing a child by aggressively confronting the traumas or using the traumas as a basis to claim an inadequacy or fault on the part of the child that they may argue resulted from the child's actions or failures to act in given traumatic situations.  This is a serious concern as it can cause severe psychological harm and make healing from past traumas difficult or impossible.

On page 2, OWP asks the parent to describe the relationships the applicant (child) has with his/her parents and/or step-parents.  This is far too subjective and skewed given the identity of the individual answering the questions.  And, it is a serious concern given the fact that the child's perspective, a professional's perspective, and/or the perspectives of other extended family members are not considered or included in the "interview". 

How does OWP accommodate individuals with special ethnic and/or religious "needs"?  This is a concern.  And, as stated above delving into the spiritual life and/or ethnic identity realm may suggest ulterior motives on the part of OWP.

When parents enroll their children in a program, the program often asks what the parents hope their child will gain from the experience.  The problem with this is that it does not take the needs of the child into consideration.  For instance, Randall Hinton (with WWASPS) stated in the documentary "Tranquility Bay" that parents enroll their children because the children are like a delivered pizza that wasn't done right.  And, that WWASPS programs take the figurative "child pizza" and remake it to order.  This idea is wholly disrespectful of the child and shows a definitive disregard for human rights.  Children, even those who are "acting out", are not products that require being destroyed and re-built to parental specifications.  Any parent who sees his/her child in such a way is likely severely mentally ill, narcissistic, and more likely the cause of the child's difficulties.  Parents who feel this way are the ones in need of mental health intervention.  This is a serious concern.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Page 1)

"In consideration of the mutual promises set forth in this Agreement, OWP and Sponsor (Hereinafter the "Parties") mutually agree as follows:"

"Sponsor warrants that Sponsor is the parent(s)/guardian(s) having legal custody of Student with full power to enter into this Agreement and enroll Student in the Program according to the terms and conditions of this Agreement."

"The program will be for a period of twenty-nine (29) days unless extended hereunder and will include the following (the "Program"): transportation from Airport specified by OWP to the OWP course area, all necessary clothing, equipment, food, lodging, and curricula for Student to participate in OWP activities, weekly individual and group counseling services for Student, and weekly phone consultation meetings for Sponsor.  The term of the Program shall commence when Student begins transportation to the OWP course area provided by OWP's transportation team and terminate when Student completes the OWP graduation ceremony, held on the final day of the Program, at which time Sponsor is responsible for retrieving Student or arranging and paying for Student's departure transportation."

"Sponsor acknowledges and agrees that OWP's conditional acceptance of Student is subject to the personal evaluation and screening process conducted by OWP in the first week of the program.  If Student fails to satisfy OWP's screening criteria, Student will be returned promptly to Sponsor and OWP will return prepaid tuition fee to Sponsor, less daily tuition for days Student spent with OWP, the $1,200.00 enrollment fee, a $500.00 evaluation/screening fee and a deduction for all reasonable expenses incurred by OWP on behalf of Student and/or Sponsor prior to Student's return."

"The cost of OWP tuition is $445.00 per day, plus $1,200.00 enrollment fee, and tuition begins on Student's date of arrival and ends on Student's graduation date."

"A minimum initial payment of $12, 905.00, plus $1,200.00 enrollment fee, covering the first 29 days of Student's program is due on or before Student's date of enrollment."

"Payment for an extension must be paid in advance for the full length of the additional stay at the cost of $445.00 per day."

"A cancellation received less than seven days prior to the arrival date will result in a 50% refund...A full refund minus $1,200.00 enrollment fee will be given if cancellation is received more than seven days prior to student's arrival."

"If Student is withdrawn before the completion of the minimum period of enrollment, without the recommendation of OWP, no refund will be given."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

The only "promise" provided in the agreement on the part of OWP is the promise to allow the "Student" to participate in the program.  There are no other promises.  The academic credits supposed to be earned at OWP are likely not transferrable as OWP is not a state-accredited school and it is not a properly nationally accredited school.  OWP is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor drug rehabilitation program.  And, the program model is not effectively described in any of the paperwork save for the wilderness and sailing portions.  It would seem that $12,905 (or $156,185 annually per child if enrolled for a year) is extremely excessive given the limited "services" provided by OWP.

Parents may not have the legal right to enroll their child in OWP without the child's consent.  Depending on the state from which a child resides, placing or enrolling them in OWP or a similar program may be a violation of the child's rights.  For more information, please see www.heal-online.org/teenrights.htm and www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm.  OWP is using the agreement to put parents on notice regarding the possibility that enrollment of their child against the child's will may not be legal and/or may violate the law.  This is a concern.

The third quote above provides the minimum length of stay of 29 days.  This contradicts the 28 day minimum stated on the Physical Examination Form.  In addition, the individual and group counseling sessions are not conducted by licensed mental health professionals.  This is admitted on page 6 of the Enrollment Agreement and will be discussed further in review of that page below.  This is a serious concern.

OWP also claims on page 4 of the enrollment agreement that it is not liable for any failures to act in good faith which could arguably be claimed to excuse them for acting in bad faith.  "OWP and its agents shall have no liability to any person whatsoever for any action taken in good faith or any failure to act in good faith in the capacity of attorney-in-fact." (Enrollment Agreement, Page 4)  This is a serious concern given the fact that OWP will accept enrollments and then possibly act in "bad faith" in determining that a child does not "pass" the screening/evaluation portion of the program.  This would result in a significant financial loss on the part of the family for services not rendered.  And, the services that are contracted for in the agreement are limited to the child's participation in a program that is not licensed as a behavioral health, mental health, drug rehabilitation, nor medical facility/service.  

If a family were to enroll a child in this program for one calendar year, the minimum cost including the application and enrollment fee would amount to $156,185.  This is more than triple the cost of a year at Harvard University with Room, Board, Campus Counseling Services, and Books.  "Harvard University will increase tuition next school year by 3.8 percent, the school announced yesterday, bringing the annual cost of a Harvard education, including room and board, to $50,724." (Source: boston.com, March 19th, 2010)  If OWP were to accept responsibility for their own misconduct or negligence that results in serious injury or death, charging such an extraordinary amount may be reasonable.  However, as will be discussed in the review of the enrollment agreement, such is not the case.  The extraordinary costs suggest that OWP is a profit-driven program that has little or nothing to do with appropriate treatment for children and their families.

It appears to be an unconscionable term that families forfeit any refund of prepaid tuition if they un-enroll their child less than seven days prior to starting the program when OWP claims the right to discharge/dismiss a participant after seven days of enrollment and retain a significant financial benefit regardless of the program's actions or "failures to act in good faith". 

It also appears to be unconscionable that if a child is withdrawn from the program prior to program completion by the family that they forfeit any refund while the program can dismiss a child from the program and retain financial benefit beyond the daily fees.  Why is there a $500 evaluation fee added if a child is dismissed when it would be included in the daily rate/"tuition" of the program if the child were to stay enrolled until "graduation"?  This suggests a profit-motive and appears to be unconscionable.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Page 2)

"In addition to the OWP tuition and enrollment fees, Sponsor agrees to pay for the following expenses of Student: transportation from Student's residence to and from Airport specified by OWP on first and last day of Program, food and lodging expenses for any holding period before commencement of OWP program, all medical, dental, and related expenses incurred by or for Student, all personal items specified by "Student Packing List" posted in OWP's Application for Admission, and any outfitting items that must be replaced during Student's Program.  Sponsors are also responsible for any additional escort fees required for transporting Student to and/or from OWP to another location (i.e. airport, doctor's appointments or special event).  Sponsor is responsible for the cost of any evaluations performed by a psychiatrist or psychologist."

"Sponsor agrees to accept full responsibility for and indemnify OWP from (1) the repair or replacement of any property damaged, defaced, or destroyed by Student whether owned, leased, or controlled by OWP or any third party, and (2) any personal injury to any OWP personnel, other students or third parties caused, in whole or in part, by Student, and agrees to promptly reimburse OWP for any costs and expenses, including legal fees, it may incur in connection therewith."

"OWP is not liable for any loss of or damage to any of Student's property."

"In the event Student runs away from OWP, OWP will make every reasonable effort to find and return Student to OWP or to Sponsor.  An accounting of the expenses incurred by OWP in finding and returning Student will be made to Sponsor who agrees to accept full responsibility for any and all such costs and expenses, and to pay within seven days of Sponsor's receipt of said accounting.  If runaway Student does not return to OWP, no prepaid tuition refund will be given and OWP holds no further obligation to Student or Sponsor."

"OWP will make every reasonable effort, but is not obligated, to return any remaining medication to Student or Sponsor when Student is discharged from OWP."

"OWP may from time to time recommend that Student obtain counseling or be evaluated by a psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional.  OWP agrees to obtain the consent of Sponsor prior to such professional counseling or evaluation.  Sponsor acknowledges and understands that such professionals are independent contractors and are not employees or agents of OWP.  Sponsor hereby knowingly releases OWP from all liability and damages associated with the negligence or other acts or omissions of any third party contractor arising out of or relating to the Program."

"Sponsor hereby grants OWP the right and permission to use, publish, and republish photographic or digital images and direct quotes of Student in which Student's image or quotations may be included intact or in part, now or hereafter."

"In the event of an accident, injury, illness or other medical necessity, Sponsor herby authorizes OWP to: (a) provide emergency first aid to Student in the field and enroute to any hospital or clinic, (b) arrange for any medical, dental, psychiatric, hospital, ambulance or other health-related care for Student deemed necessary by OWP's staff and (c) authorize a physician, dentist or other health-care professional(s) to perform any procedure(s) that the health-care professional(s) deems necessary for the well-being of Student.  All costs and expenses incurred for these services shall be the sole responsibility of Sponsor."

"Sponsor also authorizes any and all medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and treatment centers that have treated Student, and whose names Sponsor shall provide to OWP, to release all information regarding Student's medical and/or psychological history, diagnoses and treatments to OWP upon request.  Sponsor also authorizes OWP to share information regarding Student's participation in the Program to those persons or entities listed on the attached Authorization for Exchange of Information, as amended from time to time.  OWP shall keep all such information confidential and shall not disclose such information to any third party except as authorized by Sponsor."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

Why are professional evaluations not included in the basic tuition and fees for this "treatment program"?  Again, the costs of this program are already extraordinary and are not so to protect the interests of the children or due to insurance costs involved with operating such a program.  Since OWP resigns any liability for any harm that may occur, the costs are not for the purpose of protecting against expenses associated with possible harm.  And, it seems legitimate mental health services should be included in the costs of any program claiming to provide "treatment" services.

It is apparently unconscionable for OWP to require families to reimburse for any items lost or damaged by the child while denying and refusing any liability or responsibility for the belongings of the enrolled child.  This is a concern.

OWP should accept responsibility for any runaway child since they require power of attorney and right to act in lieu of the parents.  Anasazi's wilderness program accepts 50% of the costs associated with recovering a runaway child and this term appears to be more fair than the terms expressed in the OWP agreement.  This is not an endorsement of Anasazi.  To learn more about HEAL's review of Anasazi, see http://www.heal-online.org/anasazicontract.htm.

What does OWP do with medications if it does not return them to the individual to whom the medications are prescribed?  This is a serious concern.  Since OWP is not a licensed medical nor mental health services provider, their handling of medications or retaining of medications belonging to children no longer enrolled raises serious concerns.

OWP arguably owes a duty to perform due diligence when contracting services with any third-party psychiatric or mental health services provider.  It is a serious concern that OWP disclaims any liability for any harm or negligence on the part of professionals they choose as a third-party contractor.  OWP should not be given authority to choose such services without taking some responsibility for any harm that may result from their decision to contract with a third-party not known the family.

It is a serious concern that parents are allowing OWP to violate the privacy rights and confidentiality of their child by allowing their child's name, likeness (photos/digital media), and words to be used by OWP for promotional purposes.  Parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children.  See www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm for more information.

If OWP's actions or failures to act result in mental or physical injury/harm to a child enrolled in the program, they should be required to cover the costs of any necessary care resulting from those actions or failures to act.  It is a serious concern that OWP takes no responsibility for any harm that may befall a child while enrolled in their program.  And, such policies do not create an environment where OWP would act responsibly in regards to children enrolled in the program.  A system of accountability on the part of OWP would result in a safer program.  And, the lack thereof creates a serious concern regarding unreasonable risks of harm.

OWP is not a state accredited school.  It is not a licensed mental health, medical, nor drug rehabilitation services provider.  And, therefore it is unwise to provide them with medical records or any other protected health information.  HIPAA does not apply to non-medical service providers.  And, HIPAA is the federal law that protects a patient's protected health information and privacy in regards to treatment.  This is a serious concern.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Page 3)

"Sponsor hereby authorizes OWP to use data from Student's records, tests, and assessments for purposes of ongoing research, provided that Student's name and identity will be kept confidential and not used in any published materials."

"In the event that OWP elects to terminate pursuant to the terms of this section, Sponsor understands and agrees that Sponsor forfeits all monies pre-paid to OWP."

"If an escort is required to bring Student to OWP, Sponsor agrees that any escort or escort service used by Sponsor, whether or not Sponsor is referred to the escort by OWP, is in all respects an independent contractor contracting directly with Sponsor.  Sponsor agrees that OWP bears no responsibility of any kind for any such escort service or the negligence or failure thereof."

"In the event an arbitration, suit or action is brought by any party under this Agreement to enforce any of its terms, or in any appeal therefrom, it is agreed that the prevailing party shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys fees to be fixed by the arbitrator, trial court, and/or appellate court.  In addition, Sponsor agrees to compensate OWP for all reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred by OWP in connection with those matters concerning which Sponsor has agreed to pay or indemnify OWP herein."

"Sponsor herby acknowledges that Sponsor has read this Agreement and that Sponsor understands and consent to all of its provisions, that this Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties hereto with respect to the subject matter hereof, and that all other prior agreements, promises, expectations and conditions, oral or written, between the parties are incorporated herein."

"OTHER THAN THE EXPRESS COMMITMENTS SET FORTH IN THIS AGREEMENT, OWP GIVES NO WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, TO EITHER SPONSOR OR STUDENT CONCERNING THE PROGRAM, AND SPONSOR ACKNOWLEDGES THAT SPONSOR IS NOT RELYING ON ANY WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS OF ANY KIND OTHER THAN THE EXPRESS COMMITMENTS OF OWP SET FORTH HEREIN."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

It is a serious concern that an unlicensed program is conducting any form of experimentation or research involving children enrolled in the program.  This may violate the Nuremberg Code and other national and international human rights laws that require informed consent of the participating individuals prior to any subjection to experimentation.

It appears that the forfeiture of all monies paid in the event that OWP arbitrarily decides a child is unfit for the program contradicts the stated refund policy stated on page 1 of the enrollment agreement.  And, it also appears to be an unconscionable term when weighed against the forfeiture of monies should the parents choose to withdraw their child from the program prior to program completion.  This is a concern.

If parents use an escort service or an escort service is recommended, this suggests OWP accepts children on an involuntary basis.  The fact that children run from the program also suggests that the program is involuntary for at least some of the clients.  Involuntary placement of minors in a program when the child has not been court-ordered to treatment may be a violation of the child's due process rights and other civil rights.  Please see www.heal-online.org/teenrights.htm and www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm.  This is a serious concern.  According to Deputy District Attorney in Fresno County, Elvoyce Hooper, “Whenever you use force or fraud to take someone, that can be a kidnapping case, even against a parent.” (Source: Holding, Reynolds, Chronicle Legal Affairs Writer.  “When Parents OK Abduction: Troubled teenagers snatched away ‘for their own good’.  The San Francisco Chronicle.  June 22nd, 1994.) 

It is a serious concern that OWP demands parents indemnify them from any and all liability that OWP would otherwise hold in the event of harm to an enrolled child.  Such a term is unethical and raises many concerns about the legitimacy of the OWP programs.

As stated previously, the only promise given by OWP is the promise to permit a child to participate in their unlicensed and not properly accredited program.  The costs of the program are so extravagant and the risks of harm so great that the entire contract appears to be unreasonable and the program is likely best to be avoided.

It is a serious concern that OWP disclaims any oral or written statements or representations made by OWP to parents to induce enrollment.  This suggests an admission of deceptive marketing practices and further suggests that the program is likely best to be avoided.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Page 4-5)

"This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the state of Washington excluding its choice of law provisions."

"Any provision of this Agreement which shall prove to be invalid, void or illegal shall in no way affect, impair or invalidate any other provision hereof, and the remaining provisions hereof shall nevertheless remain in full force and effect."

"The parties authorize the release of the Student's information via E-mail, Internet technology, voice mail or US mail.  While every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality, OWP accepts no responsibility for the mistransmission that could result in information becoming available to someone other than the intended receiver."

"Sponsor hereby appoints OWP through its agents, Tim Brockman, Program Director, and Sarah Brockman, Assistant Director, as Sponsor's attorney-in-fact during the term of the Program only, granting OWP full power and authority to make health care, safety protocol and all other decisions and actions authorized under this Agreement on behalf of Student."

"Sponsor ratifies and approves any act or failure to act of the attorney-in-fact, including any act done at any time during the disability or incapacity of Sponsor or at any time at which there is uncertainty as to whether Sponsor is dead or alive.  OWP and its agents shall have no liability to any person whatsoever for any action taken in good faith or any failure to act in good faith in the capacity of attorney-in-fact."

"The parties agree that all causes of action shall be filed solely in the state of Washington, and further agree that the substantive law of Washington shall apply in that action without regard to its choice of law provisions.  Venue for any such action shall be in the Superior Courts of the County of Whatcom, State of Washington."

"Sponsor hereby acknowledges that Sponsor has been advised of the need to seek independent counsel to review this Agreement and has had adequate opportunity to do so prior to signing this Agreement."

"Sponsor hereby acknowledges receipt of a copy of the Visitor's Acknowledgement of Risk, the Participant Agreement, and the Program Description & Limitations attached to this Agreement and acknowledges the risks outlined therein.  In consideration of this Agreement and Student being permitted to participate in the OWP program, Sponsor hereby agrees to voluntarily release and forever discharge and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless OWP and its agents, officers, shareholders, employees, representatives, volunteers, participants, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on behalf of OWP, from any and all losses, liabilities, damages, claims, demands, or causes of action, which are in any way connected with Student's participation in the OWP program or Student's use of OWP's equipment or facilities, including those arising out of the risks that Sponsor and Student knowingly acknowledge in this Agreement and the attached agreements.  The above release shall include any claims which allege negligent acts or omissions of OWP and its agents, officers, shareholders, employees, representatives, volunteers, participants, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on behalf of OWP.  The above release shall not include any claims for bodily injury, death or loss of personal property arising out of activities conducted in the portion of the Program located on National Park Service lands, which shall be governed by the attached Visitor's Acknowledgement of Risk."  [Page 4]

"Student hereby consents to the terms of this Agreement and specifically consents to the power of attorney set forth above."  [Page 5]

HEAL Comments/Concerns

Families and attorneys who have questions about the efficacy of the "choice of law" provisions or exclusion thereof, may find SCHNALL v. AT WIRELESS SERVICES INC, Case No. 80572-5, April 14th, 2011 in the Supreme Court of the State of Washington informative.  (Source: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-supreme-court/1563713.html)   "Washington law gives effect to an express choice of law clause in a contract as long as application of the chosen law does not violate Washington's fundamental public policy. McGill v. Hill, 31 Wash.App. 542, 547, 644 P.2d 680, 683 (1982)." (Source: http://ftp.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/864/864.F2d.635.87-4436.87-3931.html)  Determining whether or not Washington courts would enforce the "choice of law" exclusions in the contract would be a matter for the courts to decide.  It is possible that since the contract has various unconscionable and/or illegal terms that the court would find enforcement of the choice of law provision or any other term to be void as a matter of public policy.  Parents who believe that they have a legitimate cause of action should consult with an attorney.

If the contract is found to be unconscionable and/or illegal, the second term claiming that any term found unconscionable and/or illegal will not void the entire contract may be inaccurate.  Such determinations are left to the courts once a lawsuit has been filed and such a term should not intimidate families who feel they have been wronged by OWP.  Again, this is not legal advice and we recommend any family considering legal action consult with an attorney.

OWP is not a licensed medical services provider nor mental health services provider and therefore is under no legal obligation to protect the confidentiality of its clients.  The fact that they will use a child's name, likeness, and quotes in promotional materials shows their intent not to protect the confidentiality and privacy of their clients.  This is further confirmed by their denial of liability for any confidential information that may be shared with third-parties.  This raises additional concerns.

The Brockmans are the owners and management of OWP.  And, by signing over the "rights" over the child without OWP's accepting of the responsibilities and liabilities generally associated with those rights shows unconscionability on the part of the OWP program and its management team.  This is a serious concern and another reason why HEAL would advise against placement of any child in this program.

It is a serious concern that the Brockmans accept no liability for any decisions or actions they take in bad faith or fail to take in good faith.  This further brings into question the ethics and qualifications of OWP and its management.

Whatcom County has a population of 201,140 people. (Source:  http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/53/53073.html)  It is the county in which Bellingham is incorporated.  There is a high level of white supremacist, militia, and gang activity in Bellingham.  And, this raises serious concerns regarding the safety of location of OWP as well as possible issues with getting justice in Whatcom County.  ( http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/02/06/v-print/1851494/whatcom-county-officials-alarmed.html)  Limiting resources to Whatcom County in seeking justice would appear to be unfair or unreasonable.  This is especially true since OWP accepts children from other states and markets its program to other states as opposed to only marketing in Washington State and/or Whatcom County.  Again, we recommend families consult with an attorney.

Readers may notice that OWP includes a provision advising individuals to have an attorney review the contract prior to signing it.  This is to protect OWP as an additional disclaimer and to assist in placing the burden of knowing that the contract is unconscionable or illegal solely on the family.  Such a provision is a warning or "red flag" that the entire program is an "enter at your own risk" proposition and given the severity of the listed risks which include emotional harm, severe injury, paralysis, and death, it is an unreasonable risk for families and their children.  The risks will be further discussed in the review of page 6 of the enrollment agreement below.

It remains a serious concern that OWP accepts no responsibility and no liability for any harm, even harm caused by its own negligence and actions or failures to act that result in harm, injury, or death.  The program charges what amounts to triple Harvard University tuition while providing no legitimate mental health, behavioral health, nor academic services.  And, this coupled with the risks of serious harm and death are unreasonable and HEAL advises that no parent subject any child to this program.

If a minor is coerced into signing a form or signs a contract for any purpose outside of actual necessity, the contract is generally void or voidable.  Here is a quote from Business Week:  

"A minor [a person under age l8 in most states] cannot enter into a contract that is legally binding on the minor and a third party as an adult can. They're not old enough to make a contract.  Therefore, if someone -- a corporation, a customer -- contracts with a minor, the contract is voidable by the minor or the minor's guardian before the minor becomes an adult and, in most cases, for a period of two years and sometimes longer [after that]. Voidable means the minor or his guardian can elect, for any reason, not to honor the contract.... There is nothing that a third party [someone contracting with a minor] can do to stop that."  (Source:http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_22/b3683155.htm)

So, it would appear that it is substantiated that regardless of a minor's signature on any of the enrollment forms whether as the result of coercion, undue influence, duress, or any other inducement to sign, it is likely not enforceable and should not deter parents and/or individuals who may have been harmed by OWP from consulting with an attorney regarding seeking any due compensation/justice.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Page 6)

"Odyssey is not a licensed inpatient residential treatment center or hospital or a lock-down style program."

"Odyssey is a structured educational and therapeutic program for teenagers who are struggling with emotional and/or behavioral problems.  Typical Odyssey students are male and female, ages 13 - 18.  Their struggles may include, but are not limited to: conflict with parents, depression, anxiety, anger, trouble in school, low self-esteem, drug/alcohol experimentation, ADD/ADHD, lack of motivation/direction, oppositional or behavior problems."

"Also, Odyssey staff will not restrain or in any way physically control a student.  Odyssey will not force a student to participate in the activities of the program."

"Odyssey is an accredited school that grants credit to students who complete the Odyssey curriculum and/or an individual academic track.  Accreditation is through the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools."

"Odyssey is not a boarding school, or a day high school.  Odyssey is not a state accredited high school."

"Odyssey does not supervise students 24-hours per day.  Instructors are required to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night and work a maximum of 16 hours per day.  All reasonable efforts will be made to manage groups at night, although the possibility exists that students may find opportunities for unsupervised time at night when Instructors are sleeping and at other times.  Students may engage in inappropriate, risky or dangerous activities at such times."

"Odyssey is a program that involves hiking, camping, rock climbing or sailing and other outdoor activities.  These activities entail known and unanticipated risks that could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death, or damage to participants, to property, or to third parties.  The risks include, among other things: slipping and falling; falling objects, snow, rocks, and/or ice; water hazards; accidental drowning; exhaustion; extreme temperature exposure which could lead to hypothermia, sunstroke, sunburn, and heat exhaustion; dehydration; possible encounters with wild animals, insects, and hazardous plants."

"Participants will confront physical challenges and perhaps dangerous conditions in the program."

"Odyssey is a therapeutic program that utilizes Master's level therapists who have a specialty and interest in wilderness therapy."

"Odyssey does not require therapists to be Licensed Mental Health Counselors."

"Students may find opportunities to engage in sexual activity away from the supervision of Odyssey instructors."

"Odyssey is not a single gender program and does not create single gender groups within its program."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

OWP is not a licensed mental health facility.  This is a serious concern given the claims that it is a "therapeutic" program.

Odyssey is not a licensed mental health provider.  It is also not properly accredited as an educational school or program.  This is a serious concern.

Children in the Odyssey program are required to build their own shelters and prepare their own food.  If they choose not to participate, they may be denied food and shelter or other basic needs.  This suggests that participation may be coerced, if not forced.  And, this raises serious concerns.

Odyssey claims to be accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools.  NAAS was forced to change their name to NWAC after a lawsuit was filed for misappropriating the name of a legitimate accreditation agency.  NAAS was also a co-defendant in a lawsuit against the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools in 2006.  (Case Citation: Bruce Dungan, et al. v. World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, Inc., NAAS, et al., United States District Court, Northern District of New York, July 25th, 2006)  The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in this case were Hancock & Estabrook, LLP.  The lawsuit was filed as a class action.  Academy at Ivy Ridge was the basis of the lawsuit.  NAAS "accredited" this school.  Quote:   "Ivy Ridge Academy accreditation rejected:  The Academy at Ivy Ridge will not be allowed to resume issuing high school diplomas.  The State Education Department has rejected the Academy's application, according to stories Friday in St. Lawrence County newspapers and The Watertown Times.  A letter from the State Education Department to Ivy Ridge quoted in the Watertown Times says, "The Department's review revealed that AIR is principally a behavior modification program and not a school..."  For complete story, click here.  HEAL verified that Odyssey is accredited by the NWAC.  And, NAAS/NWAC accreditation does not provide effective assurance that the credits "earned" at Odyssey Wilderness Programs are transferable.  This is a serious concern.

Odyssey is not a state accredited school.  This is a serious concern.

It is a serious concern that inappropriate activity, abuse, sexual assault, or other issues may arise due to lack of appropriate supervision.  It is also a serious concern that any such abuses may be excused by the program by claiming that the children in the program lack supervision and are provided opportunities to be victimized. 

It is a serious concern that the methods and therapeutic program model designed by OWP may "result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death, or damage to participants, to property, or to third parties."  It is highly recommended that parents not expose their children to such unreasonable risks of harm.

Parents should inquire and verify any Master's degrees claimed to be held by "therapists" at OWP.  Many programs in this industry will hire individuals with degrees from unaccredited, online colleges and schools.  And, this raises serious concerns regarding the qualifications of individuals providing "therapy" at OWP.

It is a serious concern that OWP does not require therapists to be licensed mental health professionals.

It is a serious concern that sexual activity and/or sexual assault are risks associated with the OWP program.

OWP should provide adequate supervision to protect children and youth from unwanted contact with others.  This is a serious concern.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Page 7)

"In consideration of the services of Odyssey Wilderness Programs, Inc. ("OWP"), its agents, officers, directors, shareholders, employees, representatives, volunteers, participants, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on behalf of OWP, I hereby agree on behalf of myself and my heirs, assigns, personal representative and estate as follows:"

"I hereby voluntarily release and forever discharge and agree to indemnify and hold harmless OWP, its agents, officers, directors, shareholders, employees, representatives, volunteers, participants, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on behalf of OWP, from any and all losses, liabilities, damages, claims, demands, or causes of action, which are in any way connected with my participation in the OWP program or my use of OWP's equipment or facilities, including those arising out of the risks that I knowingly acknowledge in this Agreement and the Visitor's Acknowledgement of Risk.  The above release shall include any claims which allege negligent acts or omissions of OWP and its agents, officers, shareholders, employees, representatives, volunteers, participants, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on behalf of OWP."

"I also understand that I will be in a group with other students who have emotional and/or behavioral problems, and that interaction with such students involves a degree of risk to myself and other students."

"Should OWP or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, I agree to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs."

"I certify that I have adequate insurance to cover any injury or damage I may cause or suffer while participating, or else I agree to bear the costs of such injury or damage myself.  I further certify that I am willing to assume the risk of any medical or physical condition I may have."

"In the event that I file a lawsuit against OWP, I agree to do so solely in the state of Washington, and I further agree that the substantive law of Washington shall apply in that action without regard to its choice of law provisions.  Venue for any such action shall be in the Superior Courts of the County of Whatcom, State of Washington.  I agree that if any portion of this agreement is found to be void or unenforceable, the remaining document shall remain in full force and effect."

"I hereby acknowledge that I have been advised of the need to seek independent counsel to review this Agreement on my behalf and have had adequate opportunity to do so prior to signing this Agreement."

"By signing this document, I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged or I suffer any physical, emotional or other harm during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against OWP on the basis of any claim from which I have released them herein."

HEAL Comments/Concerns

The only service OWP claims to provide is the allowing of an individual to "participate" in the program.  As stated above, OWP is not a licensed mental health, drug rehabilitation, nor properly accredited academic services provider.  This is a serious concern and individuals are advised against contracting with OWP.

OWP accepts no responsibility for any emotional or physical harm, up to and including death, that may result from their methods, negligence, or other misconduct.  This is a serious concern and one of many reasons HEAL recommends against enrolling any child in this program.

In our e-mail to Sarah Brockman sent on September 3rd, 2011, we asked whether or not OWP engages in confrontation therapy or positive peer culture in their program model and group sessions.  We are awaiting a response.  Confrontation therapy/positive peer pressure/culture has been found to be ineffective and harmful and such methods raise serious concerns regarding the practices at any program that engage in such activity.

It remains a serious concern that OWP may be engaging in a fraudulent and/or abusive enterprise and that they include language that appears to relieve them of any duty or responsibility in regards to the welfare of children once enrolled.  It is unreasonable for OWP to place the costs of legal fees on individuals that it may be defrauding.  This is an additional concern.

If OWP does not provide proper safety for its enrolled clients, then it should bear some of the responsibility for any injury or medical bills resulting from said injury resulting from their own negligence or other misconduct.  This is a serious concern.

Parents and youth who enroll in the program should not assume the full risk of harm associated with participation in the OWP program.  OWP should provide safeguards and accept responsibility for harm caused as a result of their practices and methods.  This is a serious concern.

The issues with the choice of law provisions and limitations on legal proceedings were addressed in the discussion of pages 4 and 5 of the enrollment agreement above.  Please see the information in that portion of the review for more information. 

Readers may notice that OWP includes a provision advising individuals to have an attorney review the contract prior to signing it.  This is to protect OWP as an additional disclaimer and to assist in placing the burden of knowing that the contract is unconscionable or illegal solely on the family.  Such a provision is a warning or "red flag" that the entire program is an "enter at your own risk" proposition and given the severity of the listed risks which include emotional harm, severe injury, paralysis, and death, it is an unreasonable risk for families and their children.  The risks will be further discussed in the review of page 6 of the enrollment agreement below.

Families and individuals should not sign any agreement in which they waive their rights.  This is a serious concern.

Enrollment Agreement Quotes (Pages 8-9)

"In consideration of the services of Odyssey Wilderness Programs, Inc., their officers, agents, employees, and stockholders, and all other persons or entities associated with those businesses (hereinafter collectively referred to as "OWP") I agree as follows:"

"Although OWP has taken reasonable steps to provide me with appropriate equipment and skilled guides so I can enjoy an activity for which I may not be skilled, OWP has informed me this activity is not without risk.  Certain risks are inherent in each activity and cannot be eliminated without destroying the unique character of this activity.  These inherent risks are some of the same elements that contribute to the unique character of this activity and can be the cause of loss or damage to my equipment, or accidental injury, illness, or in extreme cases, permanent trauma or death.  OWP does not want to frighten me or reduce my enthusiasm for this activity, but believes it is important for me to know in advance what to expect and to be informed of the inherent risks.  The following describes some, but not all, of those risks."

"The risks include, among other things: slipping and falling; falling objects, snow, rocks, and/or ice; water hazards; accidental drowning; exhaustion; extreme temperature exposure which could lead to hypothermia, sunstroke, sunburn, and heat exhaustion; dehydration; possible encounters with wild animals, insects, and hazardous plants."

"I am aware that the OWP program entails risks of injury or death to any participant.  I understand the description of these inherent risks is not complete and that other unknown or unanticipated inherent risks may result in injury or death.  I agree to assume and accept full responsibility for the inherent risks identified herein and those inherent risks not specifically identified.  My participation in this activity is purely voluntary, no one is forcing me to participate, and I elect to participate in spite of and with full knowledge of the inherent risks."

"I assume and accept full responsibility for myself, including all minor children in my care, custody, and control, for bodily injury, death or loss of personal property and expenses as a result of those inherent risks and dangers identified herein and those inherent risks and dangers not specifically identified, and as a result of my negligence in participating in this activity."

"I have carefully read, clearly understood and accepted the terms and conditions stated herein and acknowledge that this agreement shall be effective and binding upon myself, my heirs, assigns, personal representative and estate and for all members of my family, including minor children." [Page 8]

"I authorize Odyssey Wilderness Programs, Inc. to exchange information to and from the persons and/or agencies listed below./  This information may include written reports, progress notes, discharge summaries, medical records and/or verbal communication." [Page 9]

HEAL Comments/Concerns

The only service OWP claims to provide is the allowing of an individual to "participate" in the program.  As stated above, OWP is not a licensed mental health, drug rehabilitation, nor properly accredited academic services provider.  This is a serious concern and individuals are advised against contracting with OWP.

OWP accepts no responsibility for any emotional or physical harm, up to and including death, that may result from their methods, negligence, or other misconduct.  This is a serious concern and one of many reasons HEAL recommends against enrolling any child in this program.

In our e-mail to Sarah Brockman on September 3rd, 2011, we asked if children are ever enrolled on an involuntary basis.  The fact that escorts (hired kidnappers) are used to bring children to the program and that children run away from the program suggest that it is not a voluntary program for some participants.  This contradicts the notion that the program is voluntary in regards to the child's participation.  This raises serious concerns.

Parents and youth who enroll in the program should not assume the full risk of harm associated with participation in the OWP program.  OWP should provide safeguards and accept responsibility for harm caused as a result of their practices and methods.  This is a serious concern.

After careful review of all the enrollment materials, HEAL recommends against enrolling any child in Odyssey Wilderness Programs, Inc.

Due to the fact that OWP is not a licensed mental health, behavioral health, drug rehabilitation, medical services, nor educational services provider, we advise against providing OWP we the protected health information and academic records requested on page 9.  Again, we heartily recommend against enrolling any child in Odyssey Wilderness Programs, Inc.

 

 Last Updated: September 6th, 2011

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