A North Carolina ‘wellness camp’ where a 12-year-old boy has died has been described as being ‘beyond cruel’ by fellow participants.
Trails Carolina, a camp for ‘troubled youths’, is under the spotlight after an unnamed pre-teen died at the facility on Saturday.
Former participants who went to the camp in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, have previously described conditions as ‘not humane’.
It also hit headlines in 2014 when 17-year-old Alec Lansing died of hypothermia after running away from the camp.
Speaking to WBTV in 2021, Kathleen Reilly explained how she had been woken during the night by her father who informed her she would be taken to the camp.
Kathleen Reilly explained how she had been woken during the night by her father who informed her she would be taken to the camp in 2012
17-year-old Alec Lansing, seen here, ran away from his group on an excursion in November 2014 and died from hypothermia
Jeremy Whitworth (pictured) is the co-executive director of Trail Carolina camp, based in North Carolina
Reilly was 16 at the time of the ordeal, which happened in 2012, and recalled how she was frog marched in restraints from her family home by a man and woman.
Speaking to the outlet, she said: ‘The man said get the f*** up, you’re going to camp.
‘Then he said we can do this the easy way or the hard way and he had restraints and he said the police have been notified that you’re a danger to yourself and others. If you run, I will tackle you. Your flight leaves in two hours.’
After being whisked to the airport and flown to North Carolina, she was inducted into the program which can cost upwards of $30,000 for a three-month stay.
Reilly said that she went weeks in the wilderness without access to showers or basic hygiene.
She recalled: ‘We went once 17 days without showering. We were denied basic hygiene all the time.
‘It’s just, that was, again… ‘it’s just part of the process, yeah, I’m in the woods. It’s just it’s not normal.
‘It’s not humane. What it does to your brain, you still don’t even want to admit to it. It’s just like it’s still there and they have that power over you.’
Another participant, who spent three months in 2017 at the camp, shared an experience similar to Reilly’s.
The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: ‘There was a lot of shaming.
Reilly was 16 at the time of the ordeal and recalled how she was frog marched in restraints from her family home by a man and woman
Reilly said that she went weeks in the wilderness without access to showers or basic hygiene
‘Quote, unquote ‘therapy’ revolves around building resilience through, you know, physical hardship, sort of like a military boot camp or like seal training or something.
‘But the problem was, you know, there are still safety measures in those sorts of environments. Not here.
The person said that during the weeks in the woods staff would limit access to the bathroom.
He recalled to the outlet that he had to defecate in his pants, and was then forced to wear that same pair for two weeks.
Former worker Jonathan Hyde also told the outlet that he worked at the camp in the summer of 2020, and raised issues over the training of staff to deal with the children.
He said: ‘I had kids that were vocally suicidal. I had kids that tried running away. I had kids that would try and fight you.
‘One of the issues of the place is that the people that spend the majority of the time with them are not trained therapists.’
According to Hyde, he had just three days of training before he was sent into the woods with participants.
Former worker Jonathan Hyde worked at the camp in the summer of 2020, and raised issues over the training of staff to deal with the children
The company site says they are ‘dedicated to helping teens working through behavioral or emotional difficulties’
Former participants who went to the camp in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina, had described conditions as ‘not humane’
Previous investigations by WBTV into the center also showed that inspection reports by the state had cited deficiencies between 2010 and 2019.
Among those violations were citations for improper medication handling and administration.
The camp was also cited for failing to protect participants from harm, abuse, neglect or exploitation.
One of those citations had related to the death of 17-year-old Alec Lansing who ran away from his group on an excursion in November 2014.
Investigators believe Lansing climbed a tree and fell into a stream, breaking his hip which rendered him immobile.
His body was found 12 days later after going missing, still laying in the creek. The report into his death showed that staff waited five hours before calling for help.
Due to citation, Trails Carolina was fined $12,000 but allowed to continue operating.
On Saturday, a 911 caller reported that a 12-year-old was not breathing at the camp with rescue efforts being initiated on the scene.
Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office said the unnamed pre-teen was transported, with his parent’s consent, to the camp on Friday by two men from New York.
Police said rescue efforts were initiated on scene then stopped as the child appeared to be deceased for some time.
‘The child was sent for autopsy to Winston Salem as his death appeared suspicious since he had arrived at the camp less than 24 hours prior to his death,’ said police.
On Saturday, a 911 caller reported that a 12-year-old was not breathing at the camp with rescue efforts being initiated on the scene. Facilities inside the facility are seen here
Images shared by the center show the lodgings for those who are staying at the camp
The forensic pathologist told investigations the death appeared to not be natural, but the manner and cause of death are still pending.
The sheriff’s office said, ‘Trails Carolina Camp has not completely cooperated with the investigation.’
On Tuesday, investigators were granted two search warrants for separate locations of the camp.
One location is the camp where the incident occurred and the second location is where the other campers who were in the cabin at the time of the boy’s death were relocated to.
The camp told police the staff members who were assigned to the cabin where the incident occurred were placed on leave.
A spokesperson for Trails Carolina said: ‘We are shattered by the tragic loss of a young life and our deepest sympathies are with the student’s family and loved ones.’
‘Our priority is to acknowledge and respect the unfathomable impact on their lives and maintain the integrity of the investigation into the cause.
‘We are cooperating fully with investigators and have retained outside professionals to assist us in conducting our internal investigation.’
According to the camps website, their mission is to give children the confidence, coping mechanisms, and communication skills that will help them become the best version of themselves
According to the camp’s website, their mission is to give children the confidence, coping mechanisms, and communication skills that will help them become the best version of themselves. Wilderness therapy costs between $600 to $1,000 per day.
The camp, led by co-executive director Jeremy Whitworth, offers wilderness therapy programs for preteen boys (10-13), preteen girls (10-13), teen boys (14-17) and teen girls (14-17).
The North Carolina Department and Health and Human Services in a statement said: ‘While we cannot comment on ongoing or possible investigations, Trails Carolina notified NCDHHS Division of Health Service Regulation of a client death on Feb. 3.
‘We extend our sympathy to the person’s family and friends.’
DailyMail.com has approached Trails Carolina for further comment.