Our campus was all girls. There were two boy campuses, one in Georgia and one in Florida.
I was in the Group Mahayan. The groups were all named after Tribes. We had cabins, and I always felt lucky about that. Each cabin had a bunk bed on each side, a wood burning stove in the middle for heat, and two desks. we had kerosene lanterns for light and we each had our own refillable lighters, to this day that smell make me nauseous. I had to ask my husband to get rid of his lighter because of it. I remember 4 cabins and a building where we had couches and we had our dressers with our clothing in that room and called it a dressing room. We had a fire pit that we had group therapy at for hours and hours every night, unless it rained and we would use the room with the couches. The out house was outside of camp kind of. At night we had privy buddies, a person who would go to the outhouse with you to keep you from dieing in the middle of the woods, in the middle of the night, alone. Someone also had to get up in the middle of the night and add wood to the fire or we would get very cold! We would wake up at 5 am and hike for what seemed like 30 minutes to take a shower in the shower house, then we walked forever to the dining hall and ate with all the other groups. I think they just wanted to shove it in our faces that we could not talk to each other.
When we were not eating or in group, we were working. Any kind of work would do. We dug outhouse holes, cut grass with sling blades for 8 hours a day in the summer in Georgia, cleared land for new buildings, built new building, laid sod for new buildings, and whatever they could come up with for us to do. Some of the girls earned school. We had to do a book report and write a 10 page (?) book report with no errors at all of any kind. Most girls never got to go to school. School meant less hard labor and it was my number one goal.
Vinson Mountain Road, Rockmart, GA
I would tell you about the levels and things, but I do not remember that, I know you had to earn a crest, and that is when you could go for a home visit with your parents and apply for school. We had to earn everything. We could ask for any privilege that we could come up with. There was a piano in the dinning hall and I asked for my piano privilege. Some had a camera privilege, or radio, or all…..those could be used only during free time and we had little of that.
Mahayan was a small group. I do not remember how many of us there were, we started with two and slowly grew. They put us in groups of girl’s who had similar personalities, and we laughed and played all the time even though we were busy all the time. We talked while we walked.
We must have had Saturday’s off. I remember spending summer Saturday’s at the lake. I think it took an hour to walk to it and it was worth it!
Here is a recent picture of one of our outhouses….
Every Sunday we got dressed up in uniforms and went to a local Baptist Church in Rockmart, I absolutely hated Sundays! It reminded me that life was going on without us and it always made me sad. It made me think that the general public was aware of our plite and did not care…..
Once a week I remember going to see the psychiatrist. He was the doctor that recommended that we stay there to our insurance companies. That seems normal enough. Only, he did not speak English at all, and he spent 5 minutes with us each week. Our parents were sent a bill for 2 one hour sessions with this man every week. I once took a copy of our Dr schedule that showed how we were all scheduled 5 minutes apart, to a family counseling session, and my parents were very angry. I think family counseling was once a month. It was the only time most got to see their parents. It was also the ONLY real counseling I ever got there. The counselor was busy lieing to my parents about everything so that was very helpful.
I do not remember any of our group staff’s names. I never got close to any of them. I think most of them saw how we were mistreated and quit pretty fast. My group, being new, had no long lasting staff, and we saw them come and go often. The staff was all 20-ish and had to live alone in the woods with 10 mentally distraught teenage girls, for like 4 days in a row, with no running water or electricity. We made them cry some times….. They had to work with us and write everything down in a chart every day. Seems like a wonderful job! I can not tell you any horrible stories about the staff, I never lived any. Now that I am adult, I question anyone who ever worked there, and why they never really helped us.