"My experience at Carolina Springs Academy" - Anon, undated
When I was 14, I was acting out -- sneaking out, having sex with my boyfriend, and giving my newly divorced parents some problems. My mom claims she sent me to CSA because she didn't know what I was doing when I snuck out, although a drug test could have shown that I was clean.
I was told we were going to Atlanta to visit friends, but needless to say I was surprised when we pulled up to a solitary farmhouse on a hill. There was no sign, and no nearby homes, and my mother told me this was a specialty boarding school. After a few minutes of refusing to get out of the car, my mom left me there to go talk to the staff.
Looking back, I wish I could have turned the key and gone to California. However, I convinced myself that it might not be so bad, being under the impression that this was a real boarding school. I went into the front office, and the staff seemed normal and were nice to me, considering my mom was there.
I began asking questions -- "I need to re-dye my hair/get my blow dryer/get clothes", and upon being told I couldn't have these things, I was in disbelief. But that was nothing compared to what I faced next. Although I saw it reenacted countless times in my 14 months, the time between arrival and incarceration is a blur.
I remember seeing my mom in the doorway as they made me change into ill-fitting, old orange sweat clothes, scared and angry but unsure of what to say or do. My things were labeled, and most of my stuff was confiscated. I had to keep my hair up at all times, and wore socks with flip flops.
I'm not sure which was worse -- the shock of losing my freedom within a few hours, or the humiliation I felt deep down at where I was. I couldn't believe my mother had actually entered this building and still let me stay.
It was a double wide, and kept anywhere from 75 to 100 girls at a time. It smelled constantly, but especially during the rain, because our clothes would get wet and it was all up to the staff as to whether we could change them or not. The staff also complained of the smell, but blamed the girls -- they told us to wash better, do our laundry more, whatever the scent du jour was, despite the fact that it could take up to a week to get a load of laundry done and many of us were limited to 3-5 minute showers.
In levels 1 and 2, you showered last, so the water was always freezing. Because we were on such a tight schedule, only one shower was allowed per day, regardless of conditions. We walked from building to building, so even if our clothes and shoes got muddy or dirty or wet, we had to keep them on unless we had specific permission from the staff. I remember at least three or four times when I would take my socks off before bed, and the athletes foot had eaten through the skin between my toes.
The food was horrible. I am a vegetarian, but rather than providing protein substitutes, we got double servings of the starch or vegetables most of the time. Unless there was a documented food allergy, we had to eat at least half of each dish, I remember gagging several times and getting a correction for "being a drama queen". Most girls gained weight because of the heavy starch and grease, but when it was brought up by some parents, the "diet" food offered was even worse. It was basically the same thing, only with cheaper ingredients. Level 1 could not drink anything but water, and could not use any condiments on food.
PE was a joke -- it was either Ms. Mary (possibly one of the most miserable human beings on the planet) forcing us to run until we vomited at 7 in the morning, or just walking and talking. Talking was difficult though, because unless you were a level 3 or up, you couldn't talk to a level 1 or 2 without supervision by an upper level. This provided two problems -- many lower levels were left by themselves during PE, and upper levels were overwhelmed with people needing supervision.
"Worksheets" were the buildings behind the kitchen for punishment. Depending on the correction, you had to write 3,000-24,000 word essays, and the staff would sit there and count each word. I wound up missing 6 months of school because of this, and although I got caught up, many girls got behind in school because of worksheets. The teachers at the school were competent, but it could take up to a week to get assistance, especially from the math teacher -- there was one teacher for each subject, and they had signup sheets pages long.
I could write every stupid rule out, but I think the most ridiculous was not being able to look at the opposite sex. Upper levels and staff would actually watch our eyes to see if they moved towards wherever the boys were located, and even if it was a split second, you got a correction. The standards were much more lax on the boys' side though -- the boys were basically allowed to look, and even tried to talk to us a few times. We were forced to keep our heads bowed whenever they were around, it was degrading.
I was accused of giving sexual looks to boys during my first Discovery seminar, this was pointed out in front of the group and I was 'chosen out'. To this day, I don't know what I did to lead people to believe I was trying to get boys' attention, except the fact that I was scapegoated almost my entire time there for being overweight and "goth".
None of the staff in my time there had completed college -- some had gone into the military, but the psychologist was incompetent, and there was an extra fee to see her. There was nothing therapeutic about the staff. Some were nice, others were downright abusive or mean. There is no staff list on the website currently.
Speaking of the website, all but one of the photos used are not located on the actual CSA property. The photo of the big white house used in promo is actually the Belmont Inn in Abbeville -- at least 10 minutes from CSA. Even the brick house in other galleries is not what it leads the parents to believe. It is the office, the students live in double wides and trailers.
A few hundred feet from the girls' trailer is a mansion owned by one of the investors; the seminars are conducted in his basement. This guy is really creepy -- he's at least 50 years old, and took one of the upper level girls out driving in his car by herself.
The upper levels lived in a section of his house for a time until it was discovered they were drinking, smoking, doing drugs, and having sex after hours. If someone were doing these things in my house, I would know, so why did it take one of the upper levels coming clean for it to stop? That's just really fishy to me, as well as Narvin Lichfield's (the supposed owner) less than stellar records. I'm not an expert, but the man has been in a lot of trouble regarding scams and abuse of the program.
The worst, by a long shot, was the medical care available at CSA. Or the lack thereof. I as well as several other girls got walking pnemonia, but nothing was done to treat it; we were not even allowed bed rest. It took me four months to fully recover.
I didn't menstruate for over a year, after several months I brought it up to my family rep, and she told me that it was normal for a lot of girls, despite my complaints of phantom cramps and lethargy. Had I been treated or even examined, maybe I wouldn't be on hormonal medications for PCOS, and maybe I would be able to have children in the future without the help of medication.
But that was not the worst -- probably half of the girls were on medication of some sort, and sometimes the medications weren't filled on time, or had been stopped without the patient's knowledge. I was on 60mg of Paxil, and had to go a week without it, despite severe withdrawal.
There was also no detox program for girls with true drug addictions; a girl arrived when I was at level 3, and I remember her crying and vomiting the first few nights from heroin withdrawal. Another girl had to get her appendix removed, and she got an infection from the staples being loose (something along that line). One night, the staples came out, and the night staff just put them back in and used office staples despite her screaming. Nothing further was done.
Sometimes it took up to 6 weeks to get a doctor's appointment, but the parents have to set it up, so it's useless to go through the family rep. Sometimes the staff would refuse to give out things like Dimetapp (because of possible alcohol content) or Tylenol.
To make this very long story short, medical care was not properly administered or taken seriously.
I've been out of the program for five and a half years now, and I still have nightmares. I've met other students at my university that were in the Program, and all of them have the same horrible memories and fears I do.
I urge every parent who is considering putting their child into a WWASP program to look into the complaints and testimonies not offered on the website or other propaganda. Get the whole story. Don't throw away thousands of dollars on something that will make you and your children a slave to TASKS jargon, look into every other option.
The things CSA claims to offer are what every parent wants -- self esteem, respect, and integrity, but this is a play on emotions. CSA teaches conformity, fear, and all for one. They pit students against each other to break them down emotionally, and rebuild them. We call this "programming". WWASP is a cult, and cannot be allowed to continue.