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Academy at Swift River uses the same abusive "Positive Control System" as WWASPS and Eagle Ranch Academy!


By Richard Meehan


ASR is a boarding school in Cummington, MA that is for kids 13 to 19.  It will take anyone who has enough money to pay to get in.  The school's therapeutic policy is a group therapy session three days a week lasting three hours per session.  Before you do that, you spend another session in there home brewed wilderness program. I got there when you were allowed indoors to sleep so i got lucky.  However, this was not a hiking around a mountain type wilderness, this was more like a boot camp type wilderness.  You did physical training everyday and every consequence was a physically enduring task, like push-ups or pull-ups.  Personally, I liked this a lot more since one of my personal goals was to get in shape.  However, for most people this was not very good.  Even worse, a good friend of mine has this problem with blood circulation in the cold.  She was still subject to doing PT on the floor in the cold with the rest of us, even though a warm and safer area was located less than a forth of a mile away.  After being in that wilderness for 29 days, i went on to the main campus.


For the entire time i was in the wilderness I had been plotting to run.  Me and a group of friends had it all staged for one night.  It turned out that only me and one other person decided to do it.  We climbed through a sky window, scaled the roof, and hiked from Cummington, MA to North Hampton, MA through the night.  We had shaved off all our facial hair and got buzz cuts to make us look a lot different.  We eventually got caught at a bus station the following night.  We both got put on a self study.  Essentially, you get written assignments from staff members that are semi-therapeutic in nature.  They are intended to get you not only thinking about the reasons why you did what you did but also get you thinking about the issues they think you need to change (More on this later).  These self studies also consist of work projects, where the staff have certain random physical labor tasks that the school grounds needs done and the students in trouble do them.   Anyway, the main problem with ASR was not the physical abuse but the mental abuse you suffer.  They were very good at making kids yell at you about things they direct until you broke.  You may not understand why you did in group, but you would.  And once the lifestep comes around, which is a session that lasts hours, that do various things to make you change.  These sessions can last days if they need be.  The reason why the program was so effective before my Peer Group got there was because students would get screamed at by other students and the staff would manipulate the situation to get kids to think a certain way.  In short, they used brainwashing.  This is a hard allegation to prove.  However, consider this.  Students have found two books on adolescent brainwashing within the school.  Personally, during my stay I acquired both these books and had read them in full.  I could open up a random page from the book at any given point and cite something that happened that day that was exact to the situation put forth in the book.  I had also found various packets that outline the different parts of the program.  At one point, I found a sheet describing the third part of there program.  It stated that the counselors should be getting the kids lonely, scared, and confused to make them more susceptible to the upcoming life step.  It also stated to steer the kids to an end where they will be right up to the breaking point.  By using extreme peer pressure and mental stress they create an environment where a young mind can have trouble surviving.  All of what I said is true.


Webmaster Note:  See Richard's testimonial regarding Adirondack Leadership Expeditions here.


Please e-mail us for information on how you can submit your own statement about Academy at Swift River.












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