News and Updates

Hello! Do you have Cedu news? Updates? Info? Please share it below. Just discovered the Cedu Documentary project? Please do say hello, and let us know where and when you were in a Cedu type program – and how it went for you.

  1. Christopher James Korth

    Cedu… Jesus just to think of that place…

    I was there for 2 3/4 years. From i guess 1993 or 94 till 97.

    It is without a doubt the worse experience I have ever had in my entire life and I have since then lost my mother, my older brother and my grandfather. All I have left is my sister. And Cedu is still the worst experience of my entire life.

    It is the one thing I still have nightmeres about till this day.

    I was in the Cedu Middle School… originally. Then, after years of horrid groups (I was ALWAYS bashed or whatever because I was an easy target, and because I would never verbally bash anyone else so at the end of the group the counselors’ would always jump on me for not saying anything.) I finally graduated, but 2 weeks 2 fucking weeks before I Graduated (and yes i graduated) i was told i was going to be sent to the high school. For this I was dropped 2 levels as well and told at that point i wasn’t going to leave for 2 more years. the reason was that my mother was in rehab and my family had money and knew i was not going to be kicked out. this is almost 2 years since i was first there mind you. i had fucking graduated the stupid program and the school still told them that it would be good for me to stay.

    (weeks later i ran into the admin building and begged my uncle tom to send me anywhere else, another boarding school, military school anywhere else-
    He told me they wanted me there till i was 18. I was 15 at the time.)

    I did work assignments every week. All of the stupid shit they made you do – i did.

    While i was in the middle school there was a girl that showed up. Her name was Chris too. I really liked her. i mean for more than just hormones she was my very very only friend. One day, Paul one of the most sadistic bastards i have ever met, before groupd started and we were all sitting on the floor to be told what group we were going to asked someone to mention what their (Confidential mind you) group request was. Dan stood up and said “Ummm, Chris and umm chris.”
    So, what do you think happened, i was banned from her and her from me and everyone i lived with new about this.

    yep, I have never been in a relationship longer than say 1 month in my entire life. Why because from the age of 13 (my birthday was at ASSENT) to the age of 17 I couldn’t even talk to girls if they laughed at anything i said. I was ridiculed and (without pop-offs or anything outside the agreements somehow) was told Monday wed and friday that i was a “freak, weird, stupid, smelly and very muched disliked” by all the students (peers) i lived with. So, i stopped interacting. i started playing chess – i ws good no one could beat me not the students and not the counselors. what do you think happened – i was put on bans from chess. then i was put on bans from reading, then isolation all together.

    the day i graduated my uncle tom (peice of shit bastard) took me out to lunch and then brought me back — AND JUST IN TIME FOR A GROUP SESSION! where i was told that i belonged there. and when i said i didn’t i was told “obviously that proves that you are” When i asked why did i graduate then i was told that i still wasn’t finished. and what do you think happened?
    A bunch of kids who didnt even know me started bashing me about my attitude- 3 hours after i had just god damn graduated and watched all my peers go home.

    the high school kids weren’t very nice to me. I was treated horrid by all i was younger, angier and had fully given up pretty much all my sanity.

    I dont remember a lot i have blocked it out,. I remember finally planning to leave. i spent 6 weeks in the library in the main hall by the door to the offices, i had a atlas under my chair and would read a novel. I waited and waited until finally a counselor would walk out. i would block the locking mechanism and run in to photocopy a page before they got back. I did this for 6 weeks.

    When i finally got a home visit i took all the maps with me and my brother caught me packing one night. I said i was leaving. He talked me out of it and my grandparents (who were paying) said they would take me out at the beginning of summer.

    I left Cedu on a table. i was told at my last group therepy that i was never going to succeed, never be happy and never have friends just like i didn’t while i was there by faculty and peers.

    I am so glad that this documentary had been made thank you.

    I can finally show someone, anyone that i know what really went on there. I finally can have some sort of witness to give me closure.

    • I went to RMA in Idaho from 97-98. I was told by a psychiatrist that my parents were sending me there. I walked out of his office and lived on the street as a runaway for about three months. My parents had a private detective and the police searching for me. I ended up taking a bus to Eugene, Or. That’s where runaways go. Right? I sold drugs and lived on the street for almost a week until I was robbed by one of the other dealers.

      I ended up calling my parents and was guaranteed to have a fresh start if I came home. My mom wanted to get me in a hotel and fly out to get me. Which I viewed as strange but was agreeable to almost anything seeing how rotten my situation was. Sure enough, I was taken at 3 AM by two strange men whom I convinced cuffs weren’t necessary.

      Started out at Ascent, the “bootcamp” program. Completed my six weeks there and proceeded to RMA. At RMA I was quite,not involved and spooked out. It worked out well because I showed no sign of emotion and just blended in to the background eventually. Now, I had to endure the occasional bashing by staff, because of my aloofness, but they would soon loose interest and get back into a sadistic abuse of a sexually confused girl. Never seen anything like that place. It made A Brave New World look humane.

      I am impressed by everyone’s memory of the terms… I built a wall, sat in isolation for a good two weeks or so. There was this Vietnamese gangster that never showed emotion. Kind of a Chief Broom type. I kind of followed his lead and it worked well. I was very concerned that my parents would opt. for extended custody and I would eventually be put in the looney bin for life. I new the silent treatment wouldn’t fly forever.

      So I planned an escape with a class mate, Marcus, and, after much planning and a few proverbial dry fires we made our break. Leaving during movie time on Friday we ran at an unbelievable rate, down the road, through icy streams and eventually into town. Marcus was a brilliant kid and somehow created a friendship with a staff member, designed conversation in order to get the guys pin number for his check card. He then pick pocketed the guy and here we are, in town, asking some locals where the nearest ATM might be. We had to hitchhike to the other end of town, which was dangerous because we obviously went to RMA and the town is bribed to assist in detaining RMA runaways to the tune of a cash reward…

      We made it to the ATM. Told the inhabitants of the vehicle that we were hippies following the rainbow people or something. Emptied the guys check card. Gave the driver $100 to get us to Spokane and spent the other $200 on bus tickets to Billings, Montana. We had to leave Spokane because people had been arrested as runaways there. Billings wasn’t on their radar.

      Once in Billings we Checked into a hotel under the name Arnold Murphy and let the paranoia sink in. We both had money wired from friends and split our separate ways. Marcus went to St.Louis where he is from and I to Jackson, Mississippi where my friend was in college. I stayed in his dorm for about a week and really enjoyed those beers and shameless existence. I had to go somewhere else. I had no ID and really didn’t have a clue.

      John gave me some cash and i went back my hometown, Oklahoma City. I couch surfed for good couple months. I ended up driving through my parents neighborhood and had this urge to just go home. Can’t really explain it, I wasn’t very worried they would send me off again.They were happy I was alive, being that I had been missing for around 4 months. Anyway, I went back to my old school and lived with the parents. The dynamics between my parents and I 360’d and I had complete freedom.

      The arbitrary authority that started this self fulfilling prophecy was but a memory. I was so grateful to be free that I barely held a grudge. Not until my mid twenties did I come to terms with my outrage towards my parents and RMA. Which I still don’t fully comprehend. My rage for the injustice and recklessness of those times seems to grow as I get farther from childhood and view it more objectively. I would like to be more involved with helping to stop schools like Cedu. So there’s my story.

    • Just a thought – I know most of my cedu friends on my facebook page still reference trauma suffered at those schools. Has anyone thought about a class action lawsuit? Is there even anyone left to sue?

  2. Liam,

    Out of nothing more than pure curiosity, I’m wondering what this experience has been like for you? I’m sure on some level you made the Cedu documentary to answer questions for yourself about what it was the all went through while spending time in Running Springs. However, you have clearly tapped a nerve for a rather large amount of former Cedu students who were unresolved with their own experiences at the “school.” Since none of us really had the opportunity to process our time at Cedu post our stay, the viewing of your videos and chance to reply to the interviews seems to be serving former students as a therapeutic detox if you will. Just interested in whether or not this what your documentary was intended to do? Finally, did any former “Family Heads” even reply to your offer for an interview? Thanks again for you work on this subject.

    • Beautiful and kind question, Ben…In brief, and a more complete answer to come:

      Short answer – no, no ‘family heads’ agreed to be interviewed, most didn’t respond… Dennis Dockstader was the only major staff who agreed to talk – and I commend and appreciate his openness in doing so.

      Yes, a ‘for us, by us’ project was what I always had in mind – a place to put the history on the map for us to recall and, indeed, process; as you rightly point out, we hadn’t, and haven’t, really. The culture at large is not aware of these strange places, except in very very rare passing reference in a very few pieces of fiction or biography, or film….

      I’m just hoping to keep it from the memory hole, you know?

  3. And, if a few parents who are considering sending a kid to one of these places can see and hear what they are about, and understand that other programs are based on the same models as CEDU, perhaps a few teens are saved from such a traumatic experience before ever having to experience such a place first hand.

    That would be a nice added benefit of these videos, along with helping us survivors show others what we went through and give ourselves something to help cope with it all.

  4. Liam,

    I find it interesting that you use the term, “keeping the memory whole.” I say this b/c on a personal level this was not something that I was at all interested in doing prior to seeing your films. In fact, I had done a rather decent job of convincing others, and to some extent myself, that I had simply attended a boarding school in Southern California b/c I wasn’t taking care of my academics and a strict preparatory environment was what my family felt to be necessary in order to turn things around. I worked this angle b/c of the incredible amount shame I carried after leaving Cedu as I did not have a means for self-process, I took the more simplistic route of manipulating the experience to others and myself to fit a more normalized model of boarding school life.

    I always knew on some level what the truth was regarding my stay on the mountain, but how on earth does somebody explain staying up all night while your mentally broken down, being banned from looking another student in the eyes or what it meant to not be allowed to date yet having male staff attempt to run their fingers through your hair? On top of this, I was a college athlete at the time and much of what I had experienced at Cedu would have been beyond taboo to discuss.

    When I saw your documentaries for the first time I was not at all stoked but admit not being able to turn away. I watched each one alone at my house while my wife and daughter were visiting family and then proceed to get pretty tossed on bottle of half decent Kentucky bourbon. I wasn’t ready to fully feel my anger at what I was watching or the return of a great deal of embarrassment around the truth about my life during that time.

    However, what this opened up for me has been a real blessing, hence the initial post. I confronted my parents for the first time about why they had chosen Cedu, what I had truly experienced in my stay there and how incredibly angry I still was at my feelings of emotional violation.

    To her credit, my Mom chose to watch your documentary after we spoke. She shared with me how manipulated she felt and how it was the mid-90’s and radical emotional growth therapy was all the rage for upper middle class families such as my own.

    She knew Mel on a semi-personal level and admitted that she would have sold the house, the car and emptied the family portfolio to have her kid be a part of the Cedu Family of Services. Mel had her convinced that Cedu was the only way to save her son and that play on the most organic of all parental instincts was beyond effective.

    I asked about the Family Heads b/c I feel like if what they sold us was good enough then, why not now? They seemed to believe so strongly in what they were selling and put us through hell and back in order to get us to buy it. Has so much changed that they no longer believe in Cedu system of rehabilitating America’s youth regardless of whether the school closed or not? Where is the righteousness? Where have the soap boxes gone?

    So, like many of your posts this one has become lengthy as the feelings that come up seem to transfer into writing. Again, I appreciate your work on the Cedu schools b/c frankly, what else do those of us who went through those places have as a means of understanding? In any case, thanks for giving some providing an outlet.

  5. Ben Says:

    Sorry Liam. Just saw the “memory hole” of course beind differnt than keeping the “memory whole” though my response probably was not have been much different.

  6. Ben – beautiful stuff, that’s the idea exactly – keeping the memory whole, saving it from the memory hole…

    thank you for talking about it… I will write more, I think it’s something I should probably do anyway – explain how the process has been a bit. More soon,


  7. I’m not sure where to ask this question??? So, I am putting it here.

    Have you found any real therapists who are working with the alumni? I have been unable to find anyone who can grasp where I came from. It would be great if all of this information could lead some of us to find help in sorting out the issues that the school left us with.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      thank you for the great comments and insights on the various threads. This is a good question!

      I think some post-traumatic-stress therapy is necessary for all of us who went through an experience like this. I’ve sought out counseling at times for specific issues, and I did talk about Cedu, but I never did go to a specialist in this sort of thing.

      I had a major split with the place, in my own worldview, about 7 or 8 months after I got out, in a rather dramatic long weekend where I more or less decided to give everything away in order to ‘make the world a better place.’ And I mean, everything-everything. Everything I owned.

      Fortunately, my mother, in a rare moment of reasonable dialog, convinced me to think about it for a few days, at the end of which, I realized that most everything I had been told inside that place had no bearing on life outside of that place. It was a caustic realization, to be sure. I was absolutely beside myself, angry, bitter, enraged, and really, you know, confused about what the place had been.

      I was 19 at the time. Soon after that weekend, I got on the phone (there was no internet), called law enforcement, called a few numbers asking for some help in determining if something was a cult. (I’d never said the word “cult” in my life, except in reading a news story, or maybe talking about a kind of movie or rock band). Within three phone calls – that’s all it took – I was put in touch with something called “CAN,” or the Cult Awareness Network.

      A nice lady got on the line and I started to explain, “I think I might have been in a cult. It was supposed to be a school, but I don’t think…it was in the mountains, California, called CEDU.”

      “Oh, CEDU!” She broke in, “Yes, it’s a cult, an offshoot of the Church of Synanon, Charles E. Dederich, broken up by the California State Supreme Court, they put a rattlesnake in the lawyer’s mailbox that was exposing them.”

      Well…I mean. At 19, what can you do? I went up to my mother, and said, “What is wrong with you? It took me three phone calls – three, and I’m 19, and I’ve been locked up on a mountaintop for 2 years and 3 months.”

      Well, that tells you a lot. She continued to consult her attorneys vino rosso and blanco. So, not much changed there.

      (Oh, I almost forgot – “CAN” – the Cult Awareness Network, was later sued into ruin by Scientology, who took over the name and intellectual property. So, if you call the Cult Awareness Network now, that’s who you talk to. You think there’s a movie in all of this??)

      Back to me at 19; I couldn’t really handle the fact that this had happened. I wanted to talk about it, but what do you say? “I was in a cult and a bloody didn’t want to be? There are very wicked child abusers getting paid a lot to do very weird things to teens in California?”

      Well, what’s new? Right? I mean, they put us in danger, they abused us, they taught us to abuse each other. But it wasn’t clearly an active sex-farm. There were incidents, sure. If you put hidden cameras in there, and put it on TV, it certainly would have been broken up and shut down. But I didn’t know that, I didn’t know anybody. I knew other 19 and 20 somethings, who were telling me how important Grunge was. What do you do? I made a deal with myself – a promise – that I would get back to it one day, and tell the story, when I had figured out a way to do so.

      And it seems I’m not alone in this…and what a strange, strange story it is.

      So, thanks Jennifer, and everybody, really. Glad we finally get to talk about it.

  8. Wow, RMA 86-89. I’ll have to compose my thoughts. You do not know how important that documentary was for me!

  9. Hi all,

    I’m a graduate of a new school called Carlbrook. Based on your wonderful documentary, it is extremely clear that Carlbrook is a *slightly* watered down version of CEDU. Besides the terms used to describe them, the activities sound very similar. They have omitted a few. The program is shorter than yours – students are there anywhere from 14 to 24 months. If a student does not cooperate, their graduation date will be pushed back and they have to serve more time.

    One way that Carlbrook has intensified the program is with the “full times.” We call this suspension at our school. The setup seems the same – sitting in a desk staring straight ahead from 7:45am to 9:45pm. Sometimes kids went to school but often times they were in OSS (out of school suspension). The difference is with the amount of time someone might be serving one of these punishments. I have heard of students being in the suspension room for up to 6 months in a row. Another thing that has developed since I left the school is that nearly every student will serve time in suspension as a therapeutic exercise. You don’t have to break a rule to be put in this room and from what I hear, there is no way around it.

    I need to do some more research – but I am sure that there are some staff members who worked at your school that are currently working at mine. Tim Brace is an example. He’s the headmaster of Carlbrook.

    Anyway – we have read a lot about your school and have used your blogs/documentary as support. It’s amazing to me that so many people could be speaking out against these programs yet they are still in business!

  10. Hey,
    I am really grateful for this documentary. I was a graduate from Cascade Allgood’s spinoff of CEDU 00-02. I left a year or two before it was shut down. It has been a long process of disillusionment for me, I think in large part because I did come out a better person after those two years in many ways. What I have realized is that in many ways that is despite the program instead of because of it.

    I think it is important when we construct the argument against the school we focus on the fundamental flaws in their approach to therapy. As horrific as some personal testimonies are of specific instances of abuse, I think they are not an effective approach to ending this form of abuse. These specific instances can be used to get specific staff fired and or specific institutions shut down or fined, but the problem is that these schools can always just reinvent themselves. i.e. CEDU–>CASCADE—>Carlbrook.

    I want to be clear that I am not dismissing instances of physical or sexual abuse, I fully believe that events like that can and did place. It’s just that I feel the schools philosophy, ripped straight from Synanon, is an ungrounded form of pop psychology, and we only by exposing it for the sham that it is can we ever hope to shut them down for good. I find it to be not at all surprising that these schools place such a high emphasis on not divulging its secrets, because if you could actually explain what it was like (which this video finally does) I believe most intelligent people would not condone its existence.

  11. That’s the problem is the lack of intelligent people. We are trying to convince the same people that either agree with slighting and abuse or are indifferent to it. The book Help At Any Cost seems like a good step and this forum existing hopefully gets a few google hits. I volunteered at, where they’re trying to pass laws to regulate residential programs.

  12. CEDU/Hilltop 84-86

    I left during the I & Me because I was intimate with a girl (who was also in the propheet and confessed under extreme pressure) and my punishment was imminent. I was 18 and already had my diploma so off I went to college. I have a mixed bag of feelings about attending CEDU and would be open to talking about them when I have more time. I may be one of the rare ones who didn’t have a very horrible time there.

  13. I went to RMA in 1984 and graduated in 86. I was 16 at the time I went up there and had a decent idea what the program would be like from what my parents said. Although, who could possibly have imagined that a place like that existed. My parents took me to a high school placement counselor in Atlanta who told me she wasn’t sure she had found a place for me at that time. Then a month or so later, my parents said they were sending me to a wilderness school in Idaho where the counselors were really nice and they didn’t allow any violence between the students and they had group sessions where you could talk about your feelings. I knew my parents. I could fill in the blanks.

    I have no mixed feelings about the program. Sure I did some cool things while I was there. I had some good experiences, learned a lot and made some good friends. I was 18 when I left, and, yes, I was a lot more mature and experienced, then, than when I arrived.

    RMA,CEDU, et al were the product of a self-indulgent furniture salesman’s idea that what’s right for a drug addict strung out in the gutter is right for a teen who’s having trouble coping with school or growing up. The program was run by a bunch of abusive, self indulgent, narcissists/sadists who loved staying on top of us students as close to 24/7 as they could–prying into every aspect of our personal lives, subjecting us to theirs, and expecting us to smoosh with them, WHAT THE HELL? I liked smooshing with girls, but I can’t say I ever did it with a guy unless someone, often a staff member, wanted me to. Well, there was always something you were expected you to be doing. Don’t get me wrong. I think being close to your friends is wonderful, but that just never seemed natural to me. If it did to you, great!

    In raps, the staff expected that we all had all these things that we felt bad about. I copped to a few things I actually felt bad about and, apparently, they just weren’t extreme enough for the drug addict, ex-con, ex-gang member, etc. staff. The stuff they expected, most of which, I hadn’t done, and the few things I had, I didn’t feel bad about, but that would be actual honesty. They wanted their usual, sick, over the top stuff. I’d never lit anyone on fire, prostituted myself, or had sex with animals, for instance. (I still haven’t, incidentally.) People who do interrogations seem to say if you push someone hard enough, they will give you information (of some sort or other).

    Well, that’s my rant. With respect to Melissa’s post, I took a look at Carlbrook’s website and found quite a few familiar names on the faculty list, eg.:

    Glen Bender
    Tim Brace
    Justin Merritt

  14. Natalie Schell

    Hi, I was sent to Cedu in Running Springs in 1975-76. I was 15 Yrs. Old. 3 months prior to arriving I was arrested at Magic Mtn amusement park…I lite up an Angel dust “pinner” while waiting in line for the Revolution ride. The older man that I was there with, stashed a 1/4 baggie of dust in my purse and I took the rap charge so he didn’t get any time. I had a long rap sheet for mostly petty charges, except for the time I made the 2nd page of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook newspaper at the age of 15, for leading 16 police and peace officers along w a helicopter on a 8 mile chase! I served 3 months in Juvie and was given a choice of going to a Convent, Y.A. (Youth Authority) or Cedu. My probation officer picked me up and took me there. Once I arrived I was taken upstairs and was given an interview upon which I passed and was told that I had to sign a “Contract” with many rules. Then they pretty much put a bowl over my head an chopped all my luxurious, gorgeous long hair off. This was standard proceedures for all the girls, the boys all got buzz cuts.

    So we were all under “contract” and you were either there on Probation (Court/Government/Taxpayyers, paid), or you were a Private paid. I was court paid…My Dad was a fairly well off self employed(printing repairman specialist, Navy Veteran), longhaired hippie…After 6 ish months, parents were allowed to visit, my Dad was not allowed due to his long hair, it was against their rules for him to be on the property!!!

    I was always getting blown away in Raps groups and must have been on what they called “dishpan” at least 3 times. Dishpan consisted of putting on what they called a “Monkeysuit” which was what typically car mechanics wear. It’s usually dark blue or grey and it’s an oversized, one size fits all funky one piece suit with a long zipper up the front. While wearing the suit, I couldn’t talk to anybody, just work in the hot humid kitchen washing up and sanitizing everything after dinner and 2-4 hours later whoever else that was on dishpan too…could sit in there own separate dining room table until one of what they called then, Familtheads”, or Facilitators and/or some upper ranked students decieded to show you some human kindness if they deemed you worthy enough to come over to you and talk to you. It was extremely humilitating but I could really care less because I knew I was just serving my time and going along with the court system.

    This wasn’t the first time I got hauled off to som program and I wasn’t about to kiss too much butt to anyone there unless I damn well pleased. I’m sure those Communist tactic Aholes knew my hard assed mindset and it pissed them all off to no end. They (students included) were all cold blooded and viciously, verbally put me though hell and in my opinion they couldn’t give a shit about my “feelings” which when they constantly put me on the “hotseat” in the rap groups and tried to get me to “get in touch with my feelings”s eventually they would get me to cry so hard the snot would be streaming down my face by “blowing my ass away” and then they would take turns screaming harder at me and tell me to “sink into my feelings” it was like the book The Lord of the Flies” they would all start building up there voices in a frenzy and get off on crushing every fiber of my being into submission and then go on to the next person and the next.

    Some students they went lighter on but on any given Raps group anyone was fair game fodder. I have to admitt, I too indulged in the “blow away” game they taught us. When in Rome, do as the Romans do? It all was so dramatic and ridiculous at the same time. I never bought into that bullshit there…it never felt like a safe environment to me and there was alot of status, clicky, kindergarten jockeying for position going on there. When it was my 16th birthday they smashed my face down into a hardened cake. My probation terms were 18 months. Everybody starts out in the Genisis family group, after 3 or more months you get divided into anouther family called Quest, train for a few months on the ropes course for a 3 week Outward Bound, loved that part but got into some trouble for something and was excluded from getting to go on our reward trip (after the Outward Bound) to climb San Gorgonio? Mt.

    I was heartbroken about that!!! I pretty much lost all heart and gave up on trying after that…went into the “Kitchen family” enjoyed that ok. Did something…maybe gave a blow job but probably just bragged about giving one to some Celebrity from my past, well anyways…I was the only girl who ever got banned from talking to the boys. Then I got put on what they call “a Shitter” which meant I had to wake up 2 hrs earlier and work alone in the kitchen prepping for breakfast and not allowed to talk to anyone 24/7 UNLESS I was priveledged to be spoken to by someone that may be allowed to speak to me. I was treated like a black sheep and most anyone that I was interested in, avoided me like the plauge lest they be judged as guilty through association with me.

    I am sure I had a bad additude to start with but all this was way too much for me at the time because I had no interest in getting sober yet and my disposition and willingness to comply only became worst after 3 continuous weeks on “the shitter” so I Awol’d outta there…my best buddie Kelly Campbell (Glenn Campbell’s daughter) begged to go with me but I was dead set on not going so low as to drag someone else into my shit by breaking “contract” with anouther as so many before me had done…it was so bittersweet when little Micky Schlafer came running down the road after me calling Natalie! Don’t gooo, don’t goooo and I had to look back at him with a big smile and say “Go back, don’t get yourself in trouble for going out of bounds after me! Nooo,I’m leaving, I have to leave”! I high tailed it out of there after only serving 14 months of my time and once I got to the main road, stuck my thumb out and hitched a ride back to Santa Monica.

    I managed to stay out of Juvie till I turned 18…went though the School of hard knocks, school of rock and University of life. I have many mixed feelings about Cedu, I like to remember the good parts though. After searching the web a bit on my limited access Smartphone and not yet seen Cedu movie/documentary but read many funky stories of past surviving students, I can only just guess or imagine if during the mid 70’s when I was there, if it was better or worst in the mid 80’s and beyond??? I’m so very curious now!!!! Where are all my peers from that earlier era??? I’d love to hear their take on those days!!! Where have all the flowers gone??? (just kidding), that was one of the songs they played over and over. Btw: I’m proud to say that this April 2011, I will be celebrating 25 Continuous years of being Clean and Sober 🙂 Statisics say that I fall into the “1” percent bracket of staying clean after having come from a drug related family background :))) Good Memories…

  15. Natalie Schell

    Hi, I just finished watching most of the Doc clips here and it sort of answered my question about if the 70’s were run better than the 80’s and beyond…it seems we in the 70’s may, have had an easier time but not exactly sure about that…I found it fasinating to hear all the things being said and I honestly thought that my Cedu experience played a part in saving my life but now beginning to suspect that it hindered my personal development more than helped. Also I want to add this one other factor, at the time I was there, any age person could be allowed in, from incorrigable 14 yr olds to full grown men in their 40’s or 50’s who were hard core heroin junkies!!! P.S. Is it Liam? The producer(s) of this Docu are by all means welcome to contact me for my experience and input for your Docu. In fact either way, please email me to let me know when and how I can expect to see the finished Docu and where it’s going to be released.

    Also wondering if any or many of the other people from my era have come forward to offer their stories…I’m sure there have been many and would be interested in seeing and hearing their stories as well, are you doing any of that in your Docu? The 70’s? Anyways I also didn’t mention it but by the time I entered in there I was already a hard core drug addict and I already did alot of so many different drugs…when they told us that we were lucky to be alive and that if we didn’t change that our only destination after this would be jail, a mental hospital or death…I really believed them but after I split from there I proceeded to blaze a path of destruction and went on into a very dark place deep in my soul, shoting up mostly cocaine and Dilatute but, by a miracle I made it to A/A when I was 25 going on 26 yrs. That was 10 years after, (not the band 10 yrs after, no pun intended). Although it is ironic that my sobriety date is April 1st. Especially if you knew me a what a gooball, sillyfool I was before I got sober.

    I can stil reference and here it ringing in my ears how they said that most people will never change, Man O’ Man talk about personal growth and self help and transformation…I am the epitome of positive change and I’ve come along way Baby!!!! but, I have to admit I still f’ed up in some aspects and I feel isolated and alone I think it’s because I still have a bad habit of “telling my story” or parts of it to people and it’s too much to soon and puts them off, it’s too deep and intense for people but when I was young it worked for me as a coping skill to tell my story, sort of a self help street smart strategy but in the last dozen-ish yrs have found that as an late blooming adult, I find this bad habit completely gets in my way of developing new lasting friendships and even I find it to be inappropriate but, it’s a hard bad habit to break, telling my story causes many people to take my kindness for weakness and that hurts alot. Btw:

    I still find myself using the languaging I learned there at Cedu and I try to refrain from using the word survive here, instead I say “cope” whenever possible because Cedu people pounded into my brain that to survive was a dismal state of existence and should be avoided at all costs but, in this day and age with the way the world is going I can completely thank my lucky stars and God that I have the survivors skills to make it through the hard times that we are all going through nowadays. Blessings, thank you and Well Wishes on your Documentary.

  16. Hi Liam,

    I have really enjoyed this documentary. It has made me laugh out loud as well as feel sad for the many kids that went there but didn’t get the help they needed. I share your views – that the kids being sent to these schools were usually a result of lazy and/or naive parents- It’s something that I understand but cannot ever imagine doing. I was at RMA (the “rock” as we called it) from Sept. 87 to March 90. We seemed to have been part of a strange period when there was a strong push, mostly from the student body and parents, towards improved academics. It prompted the building of a new academic facility as well as the hiring (although it proved to be temporary) of some “teachers”. Most of whom left shortly after sitting through a few raps or propheets.

    My point is that we had a strong group of guys that were very smart, very competitive and for the most part, very normal. We had all been caught skipping school, smoking pot, etc. All the stuff my buddies at home, who are now doctors, lawyers and businessmen, were doing on a daily basis. They had parents who had a little more time and a little less money than mine did.

    Anyway, almost all of these RMAers have gone on to succesful lives. We’re lucky that a number of us still stay in touch. Though I wouldn’t trade my experience, I would never wish it on anyone else. I’ll always remember the day that my folks left me at RMA as the lowest of my life. The feeling that I was so bad, my folks had to ship me from Georgia to Idaho, at 15, was sad. It’s something I could never do to my children.

    I have an unbelieveable memory and would love to provide you with any info you might find useful if you decide to do another documentary or add on to this one. We have also begun a screenplay surrounding the Idaho years. It will be geared towards humor, but will be incredibly accurate. Good luck in your career and well done on the NIH CT’s.

    Mac Young. Class of 90′

  17. Holly Rocwell-Pullman

    Beautiful work Liam! I am an Art Director and my husband does lighting. I would love to catch up with you and also be of any help possible in the production. Please email me asap. Much love.

  18. Ran away from Hilltop in 1992…Hilltop was my after-care from Sierra Tuscon Adolescent Center. My experience still haunts me but not like the CEDU stories. I think there’s a big difference between the two Running Springs locations ….we fought for me to go to Hilltop so I could go to college while there (I turned 18 at Hilltop). Sierra Tuscon taught me how to live with my issues (and cope), Hilltop completely destroyed everything STAC built up 😦

  19. I was at Cedu for 6 months starting in summer 03 going into my freshman year. And after 6 months completed the Ascent program.

    I was the youngest at Cedu HS. I had just lost my mom and my dad had been in prison since I was three. A short stay with my aunt after she passed and then a little while with my grandpa who is a great man but had a major drinking problem at the time. Before I found myself back at my aunts in San Diego and not fitting in too well.

    My aunt sounds convinced she was looking for help for me, not for her (I kind of feel I didn’t fit into her relationship as her girlfriend was sort of a b****). She looked into military school and other programs, all of which involved sending me away. She was pulled in by the Cedu manipulation and happy looking brochure.

    The two year tour is what they call it, I didnt know this yet of course. So I packed my things, it wasn’t much because unlike most kids at Cedu I didnt come from a home that could afford the tuition at Cedu, the things I had were all I had as small as they seemed. I remember the car ride there with all my stuff, and her scripted, planned out story about the tour that was to come.

    After meeting some sad souls that worked in the main office by Cedu middle school and setting my one large bag with my stuff in it down. We were ready for this tour. They would show me the boy’s dorms where my aunt could not come because females are not allowed there of course. After distracting me long enough for my aunt to start her trip back down the mountain they brought me back to the main office to explain the “agreements” that none of us had any choice to disagree upon. Explained my aunt was gone, took all my stuff and said it was “out of agreement”, and then threw me to my peers to finish the tour of my new playground. A sick mental theme park for perverted staff members residing in the wholesome San Bernadino community.

    During your first following conversation with your parents, I think at least a week later you get a chance to tell them all the things that they have already been convinced are lies by the staff at Cedu. I dont think anyone was able to convince their parents to bring them home on the first phone call.

    I was told do the program for 3 months and if you dont like it than you can come home. With no other option I conformed, stupidly I did what I thought would get me out.

    After a duration of complete bullshit, watching these staff members and seemingly mind washed seniors in the program just hammer a new victim multiple times weekly for something like making excuses as to why they think their older brother touched them when they were young. Just edging along slowly feeding the bullshit I thought they needed to keep myself off the radar. It had finally been 3 months..

    I was told if three months has done you this much good, it cant be that bad, whats another 3 months going to do. Those following three months I did everything I could to rebel. From immature childish things, to showing new kids how to run or convincing them to refuse like me.

    Eventually 3 months later, it was clear I wasn’t going to budge. And I had yet to do anything they could kick me out for, I was just causing caos. And actually provoked a staff member named Russ to smash my face into the tile multiple times untill I was bleeding and had a growth coming off my forehead.

    So my aunt got a discount on sending me to Ascent, even drove me there herself while I was begging her the whole way to take me home.

    At Ascent I had an opportunity to prove myself a little in my aunts eyes, by being a leader in my course group. This was easy for me as I was the strongest and responded better to the keep your mouth shut environment than the deeply disturbing mental shit that came out of the raps and profeets of Cedu. I was skilled in sliding by in these emotional growth groups by the time I got to Ascent, and had no problem with the less intrusive style of the staff there.

    During graduation I was able to convince my aunt to take me home instead of sending me to RMA, and I think my course instructor may have helped to influence that.

    My issues that root from this experience are deep trust issues formed because of my aunt and the lies and manipulation Cedu assured her was best for me. I am very angry as well. changed my outlook on the world at a pretty young age when I realized that people could do these things to other people, that these staff members go home at night and dont lose a wink.

    I slowly learned to mourn my mother and have faced all of my issues coming from the tragedy of her death. After learning to be a man without a father. And becoming the man I am today despite all other odds. I still have no fully escaped the feeling that Cedu gave me, the hopelessness, the fear. Its even caused medical problems for me.

    If I saw Russ around being as im not a kid now, im sure I would have a talk with him. None of us will forget this place. Most of us want to. If there was ever anything I could do to insure this would never happen anybody again, that other young lives wouldnt be slowly strangled into a lifetime of depression. I can assure you I would

  20. Its bizzarre for me to think about this time in my life. this is the first time in over 10 years I have spoke about my experience. I started at ascent and then was transfered to running springs in ’97. After 1 year at cedu high, I made a complaint to my parents and the school head about abuse that had happened to me On a movie night in the house by a staff member. 1 week later I was taken in hand cuffs to ascent for another 6 weeks of fun.

    The staff had heard about the allegations made and made sure i paid for them. I then landed at RMA. by that point, I was completly broken. I have close to no memories of the entire two years in the program. I happened to remember some details this morning, and thats what led me here.

    Since I left on my 18th birthday (im 30 now) i have had a successful life. I made it through college and on to a good carreer. Its strange that i spent so much time in one place but cannot remember any specific details about the experience.

  21. I am also a graduate of Carlbrook School in Virginia, and am absolutely positive that Carlbrook is essentially CEDU with a few names of activities and exercises changed and a few practices omitted and a few added. Something needs to be done about Carlbrook, and soon, because I know that while I may have had some issues before attending Carlbrook, I firmly believe I may have grown out of them like many troubled teens do, and I certainly would not be as much of a mess as I am now having gone to Carlbrook. I was there for 20 months, not as long as some CEDU kids but pretty long for a Carlbrook kid. I should add that the stays are getting longer, anywhere from 22 to 29 months now. Tim Brace worked at Running Springs with the two men that sexually assaulted all those children. There are many other staff that either went to CEDU or Cascade or worked there. The founders of the school, Grant Price and Justin Merritt went to Cascade in the 70’s. There is also a former therapist at Carlbrook named Angela Caine who worked for the Lifespring Cult before working at Carlbook. I am trying to get a serious lawsuit going here, along with a few other people who graduated. Help us spread the word about Carlbrook and keep people away from these schools!

    • Thanks for your post. I almost had a nephew go to Carlbrook and if it weren’t for you and other student’s posts, he would be there right now. Educating parents is the best thing you can do for other kids. Thank you.

      How are things coming to ensure changes at Carlbrook?

    • Jules T Easterby

      Justin Merritt and Grant Price were with me at the cascade school in the mid 1983 to 1985… Just to correct you … It was grants mother who convinced my parents to send me to the cascade school…

  22. Hi. I went to BCA from 2000 – 2003 and to be honest, not a whole lot had changed from the 80’s/90’s. Watching this documentary was bitter sweet. Bitter because it brought up a lot of memories that I try so hard to forget, and sweet because it’s being put out there what people go through in CEDU. To every one out there who got sent to CEDU and ASCENT or any other school that was similar, you are not alone, and my heart goes out to all of you, but at the end of the day we all have at least one major thing in common, the pains of CEDU to endure for the rest of our lives. I hope this documentary will bring to justice those who did us wrong….they know who they are….

  23. Liam,

    I want to thank you for publishing this website and letting everyone know the s**t we all had to go through. I spent four years at Boulder Creek Academy in the late 90’s and a few weeks before graduation finally got myself kicked out. That is one thing I can honestly say I was proud of. I was told I would never succeed in life, “if only those same people could see me now”

  24. Robin Goodrich

    Hello Liam,

    Fisrt off, thank you for making this documentary…people just have no idea the reality that was CEDU. I was a student at RMA (for 8 months in 2000). I also had two cousins who attended CEDU schools (RMA and NWA), as well as the Ascent program. I was also sent to Ascent (near NWA) after getting in trouble at RMA, and was just wondering if you have gathered any information on this extreme outdoor bootcamp program affiliated with the CEDU schools? I am not sure if you are still interested in gathering information but I have a box of papers, pictures, and documents from my time at RMA and Ascent that I would be glad to share.

    On a side note, does anyone remember the “mandatory” 72 hours you were required to spend in the psychiatric hospital in Coeur d’ Alene upon returning from a home visit? Or am I correct in assuming that I was unnecessarily subjected to a locked-down mental facility for no reason other than just to be shown how much control CEDU had over my life?

    Looking back, I can’t believe I was a part of something like this…that I was essentially part of a cult!

  25. Carlbrook School in Southern Virginia…. Is anyone working on effecting change there? They have changed the names of the workshops and techiques, but it’s still the same CEDU-type school with former staff of Mount Bachelor and Academy of Swift River.

  26. I am a canadian and was taken to boulder creek academy in dec 96 and bounced around between Accent and Pine Crest hospitol in couer de lane for a year. where i left in 98 and was transfered to provo canyon in utah.. Cedu was a nightmare and even 15 years later it still burns. I experienced wrongful medicating, so much verbal/emotional and physical abuse and neglect. I would be more than happy to help with anything for the documentary. I have alot to say about it now that i have graduated university to work in residential schools/centres to make sure they dont treat others like we were treated!! I wish i could do more and would like to connect with more people!

  27. I attended Ascent first, from October 24th 1995 to ~November 5th 1995, then CEDU High School from ~November 5th to August 8th 1996. My last propheet was the Brothers, and I completed Wilderness Challenge.

    I just came across this project. Thanks to whomever is responsible for it.

    CEDU pisses me off a lot less than it has in the past, and now I can look upon it with humor, but what a black pit of despair that place was. I can’t imagine all the poor kids in CEDU Middle School that were turned into robots. I was appalled at what was going on there and I was 15.

    The only thing that kept me going at CEDU was a small group of friends. We’d hang out in the woods and disregard all rules, chatting about whatever we would normally. It brought some sense of normalcy. We never discussed that fact that we were “getting dirty” with each other, or what we would do if ever forced to do a “dirt list”. Somehow none of us ever sold each other out. This included students 2 Discovery, 3 Quest, and 1 Summit student. The head counselor doinks like Pam and Guy Bonanno continually tried to break us, but when no one sells each other out, there’s not much they can do. I’ll thank those gents for keeping me sane until the day I die.

    Jake H
    Alex T
    Anthony M
    Tim Z
    Joe C
    Eric B

  28. I’d also like to add that the music they play during propheets is rather cryptic for lack of a better term. I had been looking for one song in particular for the last 15 years. I finally found it today which is what eventually led me to your site. The song is played during the crazy partner scream in the childrens propheet. You know, the one where they give you honey and lemons to help soothe your throat from all the loony screaming? Here is the song. Try not to start screaming.

    Children One and All
    by Mary Travers

  29. I attended Cedu from 1976 to 1978. Most participants were sent via the juvenile court system and most had a history of drug use and petty crimes. I certainly developed a good work ethic and my self confidence improved considerably. One of the highlights for me was the Outward Bound program that many of the students participated in. We certainly had our share of raps , where the screaming was ear piercing. Negatives? Why of course, but I can’t say that I witnessed anything that was unlawful or abusive. I am not supporting Cedu, just sharing my experience. When I left the program it was pretty much resume party back at home. A call out to any of my peers that were there at the same time I was—where are you? Anyone else please comment or ask questions.

  30. Name Christina Mac Donald

    I went to CEDU in the early 90s. Went to the Running Springs one. I still have nightmares about that place. I never forgave my parents for sending me there and haven’t talk to them much since. I just wanted to say thank you for this site. It helps knowing others had such a bad experience there too. It not just me. I don’t like to think of that place much brings tears to my eyes. Unfortunately I remember everything. Thanks..

  31. Hi there,

    I am really happy to have found your super helpful and interesting documentary and blog! I m a filmmaker and I am making a film about a few alumni and myself who attended the Oakley School in Utah in the 90’s. What stage is your film in?

    thank you for this work!

  32. Tomorrow marks 16 years since I woke up and was taken from my home, to CEDU. 16 years and it still haunts me. Fuck.

  33. I went to Cendu in Runging Springs, I will never forget when my mother told me that one off the staff told her that the tended to grab a knife out of the kitchen. I was soo mad. Haw can they lie.

  34. To hell with cedu and the staff that work there. I left RMA in 99. it was nothing more then a place for rich people to dump their kids off at.we had staff members who talked about raping people in their disclosures and then walking a 15 year old girl through her rape disclosures that place was a joke. I just wish that they would burn all those schools to the ground. I haven’t met one person who didn’t come out worse than when they went in. How many of us ended up in a hospital or prison, I did both.the truth will not set you free it only gets you more medication and strange looks from your friends and family. Some kids had no issues that weren’t solvable at home. But their families were lazy and wanted somebody else to save them.when I was there the brown schools were taking over they sent A cameraman to film us we had to lie to our families that we wanted to stay after the age of 18 because the judge in town would grant them extended custody with the help of the school and force us to finish the school. I got lucky and told my mom and dad I loved it there and wanted to finish. And then I bounced after turning 18.

  35. Love the site! I went to NWA in 2002 I believe for a year. I walked off the mountain shortly after turning 18! It was terrifying but I left with a friend. I made it home but she didn’t! It was the worst experience ever! When I came home I used drugs and became very permiscious which I never did before. Horrible place and thank you for making this site! I’ve wanted to write a book for sooo long… But never did! However finding your documentary is almost just as gratifying.

  36. Lisa Pliner-Decker

    Wow! I haven’t thought about Cedu in years. I came across all this online in a random way. I’ve never really processed what I experienced there, I mean who would understand besides someone else who went through it. Guess I wanted to just put it behind me. I was at Cedu from 1985 to 1987. Took me a few years of growing up to figure out how brainwashing that experience was. Surprised the school lasted as long as it did. I saw shit go down there that would have shut it down in the modern era of lawsuits. Things were definitely different in the 80’s. I’m still trying to figure out how I got a high school diploma. I don’t remember taking many classes and I was there my sophomore, junior, and senior year.

  37. In 1980-1981 I was a student at Cedu. This is such an incredible true account of the life at the Cedu school. Finally a group of people who feel and felt the way I did at this school. Just opened this for the first time. Thank you all, and more power to social media! And by the way I’ve been informed that the school burned down in the forest fire a few years ago. Such a shame for the beautiful main house however, as it was a work of art. Cedu had closed already when the fire occured

  38. Hilltop ’87. Any other survivors from the same time frame? I seriously have not opened up about my memories there in a very long time. It’s like a scab has been ripped off reading some of these comments. Had some crazy times in those CA mountains.

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