Last week on Brat Camp, 3 of the students graduated, and the other 6 all worried that they would be stranded in the central Oregon desert for the rest of their teenage lives. Yes, Nick, Heather, and most notably Lexie all graduated from Sagewalk and got to spend Christmas at home with their families. The 6 that were left behind, in my opinion, were there mostly because they just couldn’t keep Jada there by herself—she’d probably cry herself to death.
Over The River And Through The Woods
It is day 42 in the Brat Camp desert, and Christmas is 2 days away. Each camper talks about their yearning to be home for the holidays, and Jada cries a little more about how hard she has it and how much she misses her easily manipulated parents for this time of year. Glacier points out that even though each of these students wants to be home for Christmas, all of them still have work to do before they can graduate. Most everyone pretty much understands this point, and they all work to make a Christmas-y atmosphere around camp. They decorate a tree, draw names for secret Santa, and take time to handmake gifts for each other.
On the day before Christmas, the counselors lead the students to an exercise designed to test their confidence in themselves, and in each other. It’s a high ropes course—a high wire strung between 2 trees about 30 feet in the air, with ropes hanging down off of a higher strung cable for the students to hang onto. While 1 student walks the high wire, another student is their “safety”, belaying them from the ground. The idea is to walk the high wire while holding onto the hanging ropes, and switching from one rope to another as you cross the wire. It does look pretty intimidating, but is actually pretty safe. First, Jada crosses the high wire. In a side interview, she explains that the ropes course is a “like a metaphor for the hardships or something—I don’t know. It’s all a metaphor here…Sagewalk craziness.” Yeah, Jada, you get it. You of all people should graduate, you disrespectful liar. Isaiah goes next, and has little problem getting across. Shawn, who has done ropes courses before, and also needs to push himself in order to graduate, decides to do the course blindfolded. He proceeds slowly, and almost falls a couple of times, but uses his “Jedi power” to eventually make it across to cheers from all. Frank, who grew up without a father, needs to learn to have courage and trust the people in his life. So this course will hopefully help him to learn to trust his belayer, and in so doing, others. Frank actually looks quite intimidated up there on the wire, but he gets a ton of support from everyone down below. He makes it across, finishing with a huge grin. Lauren is the next high wire act. We all know she can take care of herself, but she does need to learn faith in others. The ultimate test? Having Jada as her belayer. Lauren is clearly worried when Jada is laughing and not taking the belay seriously. The counselors even give her a way out by asking if she is okay with her belayer. Lauren goes ahead with her walk, but is having trouble reaching between the ropes. She wants a good hold, because she still doesn’t trust her belay 100%, but misses one of the ropes and falls off the wire. Luckily, Jada holds on, with reassurance to Lauren that she has her back. She finally makes it across and back to the safety of the ground. Finally, Derek has to decide whether or not to face his fear of heights. He still regrets not rappelling with the other students, but his fear is very real, and this task will really test this. He decides to give it a shot, gets into all the gear, and starts climbing the tree up to the wire. Halfway up, his fear of heights, and more to the point, falling, kicks into overdrive, and he decides he doesn’t want to carry on. He climbs back down. The counselors decide that what Derek needs now is to simply conquer his fear of falling. It’s time for the good old “trust fall” exercise, where Derek trusts that his teammates will catch him as he falls backwards with his eyes closed. Derek is truly nervous about falling hard to the ground, to the point that he can’t even get the words out right when he tells the group that he is falling. They all catch him as he plummets groundward, and it is his shining moment. He is at once relieved and excited that he can trust others, that there are people there when you fall.
And The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care
It’s Christmas day at the Brat Camp, and stockings for each camper have mysteriously appeared on the decorated tree. The spirit of Christmas flows through the camp, even for Shawn who is actually Jewish. They all got candy canes—their first processed sugar in 43 days perhaps??—and beef jerky and nuts. Later on, they all exchanged homemade gifts with their secret Santa. The group has grown into a close knit family, and even Frank is learning to accept others and to let himself be close to others because of the holiday.
A Hiking We Will Go!
It is day 56!! Wow! Time flies in the Oregon desert. Almost 2 weeks have passed since Christmas, and Jada reveals in a side interview that she still doesn’t get the point that she is where she is for a reason. There is about 6 inches of snow on the ground, it is still snowing, and Glacier is in camp telling the campers that it is supposed to snow a lot more, and plummet to below zero that night. Yet they are all still hiking today. But first, Glacier needs to meet with each student 1 on 1, to find out how things are going. First he takes Lauren and Shawn with him. He tells both of them that this is going to be a step toward graduating. It will be their toughest challenge yet, and it will test all of the skills that they have learned while they were at Sagewalk. Lauren volunteers to go first, and she is instructed to walk over the nearest ridge to the firepit and she will know what to do. As she walks through the snow, she can hear someone calling her name, and suddenly her mom is in her full view. Lauren is in disbelief, but runs to embrace her mother as if she hasn’t seen her in 56 days. Next, Shawn is told to move quickly and head over the ridge as fast as he can. He runs, seeing his parent’s waiting for him, yelling and whooping in the knowledge that he is finally graduating. Frank’s mom is waiting down at the graduation camp, feeling like she will be meeting her son for the very first time. As Frank approaches, she yells out to him and he looks up all surprised. He eventually figures out that he must be graduating, and perks up and runs to his mother’s arms. She hugs him hard and tells him he looks all grown up, which he denies, blaming the look on his lack of shaving. It is a touching, yet akward moment as he tells her he loves her. Next, Isaiah is told to go to the other camp, and waiting for him are his brother and mom. His brother almost tackles him in running to greet his brother, and mom jumps up and down as they all hug. Derek comes running over the hill next, and his parent’s encourage him on loudly. His dad admits that Derek doesn’t know how much he loves him, and that Derek seems to hold back toward his father. When Derek gets to where his folks are, he hugs his father first telling him how happy he is to see him. He jumps quickly to his “Mommy!”, hugging her as if he might never let go.
You’re Fooling Yourself, And You Don’t Believe It!
5 of the last 6 campers have left camp, and Jada is alone with the counselors back at the tent. The time has come to clue her in on what is actually going on with the rest of the group. Flying Eagle tells us that he thinks it is time to challenge Jada on her true motivations for feeling she is ready to go home. She still is not serious about her personal integrity and accountability. He comes into the tent to talk with Jada, and he tells her that everyone that has left is actually graduating. She thinks it’s a joke at first, but Eagle assures her that it’s true, and that he feel’s she hasn’t really taken the program seriously. Slowly, the realization that what he is telling her is true, and she might actually be left here by herself with the counselors and the cold conditions. Eagle further berates her with the fact that she can fool her parents, but she can’t fool them, and that the only person she is fooling now is herself. I am relishing in the slow process of realization that is going on in Jada’s mind. She is going to break if this is true, and maybe that’s what it is going to take for this brat to get a clue. Ohh, I’m a poet and didn’t know it!
Eagle leaves her to think about it for a second, and Glacier comes in to discuss her options with her. The full realization that this is really happening to her hits Jada, and she collapses under the weight. She is sobbing so hard, she can’t even answer some simple questions for Glacier. Finally, she gets her composure together to string together some words I think we all know were just uttered by her to get what she wants, and Glacier tells her to go check out what is over the hill. As she crests the hill, her parents are waiting down below, with her mom looking and sounding like she could double for Victoria from The Amazing Race 6. Seriously, Jada’s parents look like the kind of couple that only had a child because their last dog had died and having kids was the new “in” thing to do. Her parent’s tell us how proud they are of Jada, and her dad even says he expects big things out of her. Yeah, lots of big lies, a couple of huge exaggerations, and oh yeah, charges for running a family in a raft down with your motorboat! Huge!
A Post Graduation Group Hug
At the new graduation camp, all of the campers and their families circle up, as each student talks about what they have accomplished at Brat Camp, and how thankful they are for their parent’s support and love. In turn, the parents all tell their child how proud they are of them, and how much they love them. Ahh, the love of a parent, unconditional and everlasting. To me, the one student who has changed the most is Lauren, who really overcame a big emotional barrier in her father’s death to realize she is good, and deserves a good life. Finally, Glacier gives his graduation speech to the new non-brats. There are two paths in life…one to success and happiness, and one to all of the negative, bad things. These kids have a fresh start in life, and it is up to them to choose the right path for themselves.
Where Are They Now?
The Brat’s have all been home for awhile now, but have they really changed? Did Sagewalk do for them what their parent’s wanted for them? Let’s visit each Brat and see how they are doing!
Shawn, formerly a drug using, goth looking teen still sounds exactly the same, but he looks totally different. Even with his long hair still in place, he just looks 10 times healthier than he did before. He hasn’t done any drugs since he returned from camp, and he is now pursuing a job. He meditates in his backyard often to keep himself peaceful. And now, he actually looks to his mom for advice, when before all they did was fight. Shawn definitely got a lot out of his experience.
Formerly branded an angry punk, Isaiah has a new life back at home. While he still maintains his punk demeanor, he seems self-disciplined in his home and daily life, and he even plays some sports with other kids from his neighborhood. Unfortunately, he was recently caught spray painting racial slurs on someone’s property, and could face jail time and a large fine.
Derek, while he does look slightly older and calmer, still looks and sounds like he is an 11 year old boy. He seems to have a lot more patience and less unbridled energy than he did before. He admits how hard Sagewalk was on him since he was away from his family and way out of his comfort zone. But he seems to be doing well.
Now in boarding school, Heather now looks like a normal teenage girl, as opposed to the trampy, drunken bimbo that first walked into the Sagewalk offices. She is actually enjoying being at boarding school, and her parents know that her time at Sagewalk was a real success.
Frank and his mom are both doing very well since Frank came home. He is not an angry teen anymore, and he is really communicating well with his mother. Their relationship has healed, and they both do a lot more together.
Nick, who has a twin brother, is doing great at home. He no longer fights with his brother, instead, they spend all of their time together. Nick no longer loses his cool, since he has so much newly found self confidence. He has a tutor to help him with his dyslexia, and is actually improving at school.
Lauren also looks very healthy and more normal than she did before Sagewalk. She is still dealing with the loss of her father, but she visits his grave often, and is finally finding some closure. Her mom thinks that she came back a completely transformed girl, and they both see bright things for her future.
And now we get to Jada. Jada, the compulsive liar and drama queen, who, when first at Sagewalk, put on the biggest whining, crying fit I have ever seen from a teenager. After her experience at Sagewalk, her parents put her in a boarding school, but Jada somehow seems to have vetoed that decision, since boarding school forbids the use of the internet and cell phones…and Jada can’t have that. Geez, Jada, I see where the producers got the title of the show you were on! Her parents admit that Sagewalk was pretty much a complete failure for their daughter. But I don’t think it’s the program that actually spoiled her. Lay that blame on her douchebag parents, who, for some reason, believe all of her lies, give in to her every whim, and generally raise their daughter like she’s a cabbage patch doll. They have even caught her smoking pot since Sagewalk, and 6 months after the experience, Jada was driving a speedboat and collided with a family in a raft, injuring one of the family’s daughters.
It feels like Sagewalk was the most therapeutic for Lexie. She is currently attending boarding school, and is really getting on with her life. She feels like she is starting over again in life. She has even started to ride horses again, since she used to associate horses with her abuser. It is a huge step in overcoming her repeated nightmare she endured over the years.
Here we had nine kids, brats really, who went out into the Oregon wilderness and endured cold, foul weather to try to get their lives on track and overcome some emotional obstacles. Over the 50+ days that some of them were out there, they learned discipline and self-reliance in a rugged environment. They learned to trust themselves and others, and in so doing grew into young adults ready to take on the world. Well, most of them at least. Really, 8 out of 9 isn’t too shabby.
If you had any huge life changes during your viewing of “Brat Camp”, consult a therapist, as I am merely a reality TV recapper. If you had some really good snarks while watching, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org