In the huge world of Netflix films, “Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare” is the newest one that has caught people’s attention with its scary story. This documentary, directed by Liza Williams, tells the disturbing story of the Challenger Foundation, a wilderness therapy program that claimed to change troubled teens by putting them through a 63-day survival challenge in the wild. Challenger Founder’s controversial methods and the bad things that happened afterward have left a lasting mark on the world of therapy programs. From the beginning of the program to its well-known end, the video tells a story of manipulation, trauma, and the search for redemption. tvacute delves into all the details.
What is the Challenger Foundation?
The Challenger Foundation is a wilderness rehab program. The program was meant to address worries about how bad American teens and young adults were thought to be in the 1980s. The Challenger Foundation charged parents an unbelievable $15,900 and said they could change “out of control” teens by putting them through a tough 63-day outdoor experience in the wilds of Utah.
A former special forces officer and dropout from Brigham Young University, came up with the idea “break the kids down and build them back up.” The program was a huge hit, making $3.2 million in its first year and serving as a model for other similar projects. It had strict rules, searched people without clothes on, gave people military haircuts, and talked to people in a drill-master way.
Even though it seemed to be working, the Challenger Foundation, which was also known as Hell Camp, was involved in a scandal and had to close in 1990. The sad death of 16-year-old Kristin Chase while hiking in southern Utah sped up the end of the program. The organization was accused of child abuse and negligent murder, which got Cartisano in trouble with the law.
Who is the founder of the Challenger Foundation?
Steve Cartisano, a former special forces officer in the military and Brigham Young University dropout, founded the Challenger Foundation. The charity was founded in 1988 and became well-known for its wilderness rehabilitation program, which used a 63-day outdoor survival experience to transform problematic youths.
The rebellious leader of the Challenger Foundation, Steve Cartisano, was used to getting into trouble. Cartisano, who was born in Utah and had served in the military’s special forces, had a unique idea for how to help troublesome teens change. In the mid-1980s, when he was studying communications at Brigham Young University, he reportedly got ideas from Larry Dean Olsen, a former professor who had worked on a similar project with the nonprofit Anasazi Foundation in the 1970s.
Cartisano’s theory was based on teaching troubled teens “street smarts” through survival in the outdoors. Under his direction, the Challenger Foundation became known for strict rules, unusual penalties, and a drill sergeant attitude.
During its peak in the late 1980s, the Challenger Foundation attracted both troublesome teens and well-known families looking for a way to help their stray kids. Rich and famous people, like the Winthrop Rockefeller family and Oliver North, who was a conspirator in the Iran-Contra case, are said to have put their kids in Cartisano’s classes.
Is there still a Challenger Foundation?
After Kristen B. Chase died of heatstroke on a hike in Kane County in 1990, the Challenger Foundation stopped operating. It was known for using questionable methods and for the terrible things that happened in its outdoor therapy program. Because of what happened in court, Steve Cartisano was charged and the program was shut down. The Challenger Foundation, which was shown in the Netflix documentary, is no longer in business, but wilderness rehab programs live on.
The movie is a stark warning that there are still programs like this one that try to change troubled teens by giving them extreme outdoor experiences. Even though the Challenger Foundation’s closing cast a dark shadow, the larger problem of wilderness therapy programs continues to bring up moral concerns about how they affect teens who are vulnerable.
Where is Steve Cartisano now?
After going to court and having the Challenger Foundation shut down, Steve Cartisano had to deal with both criminal and civil consequences. Even though Cartisano was found not guilty of the murder of Kristin Chase, his journey included a number of failed businesses and legal limits.
After being banned from running any child care programs in Utah and then Hawaii, Cartisano tried to keep his programs going in places like Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. However, none of these programs were ever approved, which left parents unhappy and caused problems with money.
In his later years, Cartisano worked as a manager of an Oklahoma school for American Indian students. His troubled past caught up with him, though, and he was fired when a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer read about it in a magazine piece about wilderness therapy.
Steve Cartisano died in 2019 at the age of 63. His life was full of legal fights, scandals, and the creation of the Challenger Foundation, which will live on forever.