July 12, 2005 11:01 PM by Joe Blackmon
What would you do with a teen who curses at you, breaks the law in your house and doesn’t listen to anything you say? That’s the dilemma facing nine families dealing with out-of-control teenagers – whose ages range from 14-17 — and with issues from ADHD to drugs, promiscuity and fights, in ABC’s new reality series, "Brat Camp," premiering in two back-to-back episodes, WEDNESDAY, JULY 13 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
The nine families make a tough choice and send their kids to SageWalk, The Wilderness School, in the wilds of Oregon for a period of more than fifty days, in the desperate hope that, once it’s over, they’ll get back the children they once knew.
In the special two-hour premiere, we meet the kids as they arrive at SageWalk, learn about their issues and see their defiance in action, as they’re confronted for the first time with the harsh realities of camp life. Forced to hike 10 miles with 40-lb. backpacks, the kids celebrate Thanksgiving in the wilderness without family, and with the ultimate question being whether they’ll make it home for Christmas.
The participants include:
Lauren, 17, from Davis, CA, a straight "A" student who excelled in everything until her father suddenly passed away when she was 11. Unable to deal with the grief, Lauren turned to drugs and admits to smoking pot every day and doing whatever it takes to get her fix. Lauren’s mother sent her to SageWalk hoping that her daughter would face up to her father’s death and quit drugs.
Jada, 15, from Boston, MA, refuses to go to school. She has dropped out of two boarding schools and nine private schools in the last six years. Instead of going to school, she throws parties and experiments with sex, drugs and alcohol. Jada’s an aspiring singer who thinks she doesn’t need school because she’s going to be a star one day. She’s also a compulsive liar who is always making excuses. Her parents sent her to SageWalk so that she’ll become motivated about her life, stop taking things for granted and start telling the truth.
Nick, 14, from Seattle, WA, is a dyslexic teenager who is constantly fighting with his family. Not only does he disrespect his father and yell obscenities at his mother, he once even pulled a knife on his twin brother. Unable to deal with Nick’s relentless anger issues any longer, his parents made the decision to send him to SageWalk.
Shawn, 17, from Irvine, CA, has been struggling with drug abuse for several years. He admits to stealing from his own mother to buy drugs, and is constantly truant from school. Shawn’s parents believe his problems stem from the fact that he was adopted, and they sent him to SageWalk hoping that he’ll learn to face his abandonment issues and gain self-esteem.
Heather, 16, from Centreville, VA, used to be athletic and innocent until she started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Now she experiments with all types of drugs and is constantly running away from home for days at a time. Her adoptive parents sent her to SageWalk because they feel that Heather is heading down the same road as her birth mother – to a drug-induced coma.
Lexie, 17, from St. Helena, CA, used to be a good girl who rode horses and excelled in school, but when she was 11, Lexie was molested by someone she trusted. She has since suffered from depression, become verbally abusive toward her parents, given up horseback riding and started failing in school. Lexie’s parents sent her to SageWalk hoping she’ll learn to deal with the secret that still haunts her.
Frank, 15, from Sacramento, CA, has anger management issues and problems with authority. He was recently suspended from school for arguing with a teacher and was sent to live with his uncle, a probation officer. Frank admits to being verbally abusive and furious at the world, and was sent to SageWalk to learn how to deal with his anger.
Derek, 14, from Little Rck, AK, is a destructive teenager who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He is failing school and is verbally abusive towards his mother. Derek’s parents have sent him to SageWalk to learn discipline, respect and self-control.
Isaiah, 17, from Winton, CA, is an angry punk rocker who smokes, drinks and has an obsession with fire. Isaiah is verbally abusive towards his mother and blames her for his parents’ divorce. He’s defiant and bitter, and is constantly getting into fist fights at school, especially with the ‘jocks.’ Isaiah’s mother sent him to SageWalk to learn how to deal with his anger issues.
Led by Tony Randazzo, aka "Glacier Mountain Wolf" – as all field instructors take earth names at the camp – the SageWalk field instructors guide these troubled teens through this potentially life-changing experience. Glacier, who also serves as the series’ narrator, hit rock bottom himself as a teenager, abusing drugs and alcohol and living on the street, and claims a wilderness camp similar to SageWalk saved his life. As the primary manager, Glacier trains and supervises the rest of the field staff and is the first face the teenagers see upon arrival.
Other field instructors at SageWalk include "Little Big Bear," who teaches wilderness survival out in the field; "Mountain Wind," who is responsible for the teenagers’ safety and health while in the wilderness; "Boulder," the instructor who often ends up dealing with the most difficult cases; and "Cougar," who prides himself on making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth.
SageWalk therapists include Dr. J. Huffine, aka "Flying Eagle" who, as the clinical director, supervises the progress of each student; Cindy Fogel, aka "Mother Raven," who often relates to the teens as a substitute mother and is very empathetic and emotional; and Scott Fitzwater, aka "Fire Bear" who, in addition to working with the teens, also has direct contact with their families and ultimately decides when each student is ready to go home.
"Brat Camp" is from Shapiro/Grodner Productions, with Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner serving as executive producers, and John Platt as co-executive producer. "Brat Camp" is based on the award-winning U.K. series from Twenty Twenty Productions, with Peter Casely-Hayford, Jamie Isaacs, Claudia Milne and Mark Rowland serving as executive producers.