Twelve-year-old dies at troubled teen wilderness camp

LAKE TOXAWAY, NC – A 12-year-old boy tragically passed away at a controversial wilderness camp in North Carolina, just one day after his enrollment. The cause of the youngster’s unanticipated death, which occurred last Saturday, remains under investigation by the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office.

Trails Carolina, the camp where the incident occurred, has expressed profound sorrow over the tragedy. They offered their condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased while pledging to uphold the investigation’s integrity.

Located 35 miles southwest of Asheville in Lake Toxaway, Trails Carolina was established in 2008 to provide a “nature-based therapy program” for children and teenagers aged between 10 and 17. Despite their proclaimed commitment to compassionate methodologies and leveraging the healing benefits of outdoor behavioral care, the camp has come under previous scrutiny and is known to have experienced its fair share of controversy.

In 2014, a 17-year-old named Alec Lansing passed away from hypothermia after fleeing the program. Further, Trails Carolina faced criticism in 2020 when Jonathan Hyde, a wilderness field instructor at the camp, revealed what he saw as the startling lack of professional treatment offered to the emotionally distressed youth enrolled at the camp, raising concerns over staffing issues and questionable practices.

This incident contributes to a growing list of concerns raised against similar facilities treating “troubled teens.” Indeed, in recent years, numerous facilities have been held to account for allegations of abuse against residents. As an example, the Diamond Ranch Academy, a Utah-based residential treatment center, was forced to shut its doors after the revelation of several child deaths on its premises.