Northstar Expeditions

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Information
Current status Closed
Image:Detainees.gif Capacity ?
Checked October 23, 2010
Image:Open.gif Opened 1994
Image:Close.gif Closed 1996

Northstar Expeditions was a shortlived wilderness therapy program located in Utah. While it was only in operation for a year and the methods used was nothing out of the ordinary compared to the mainline trend of wilderness programs in that decade, it gained notability due to the tragic death of Aaron Bacon.

The length of the program was 63-days [1]

Their company motto was Adapt, Improvise, Overcome [2].

Contents

Program structure

The wilderness program operated with levels, which the teenagers had to pass in order to graduate the program [3]

  • A-team, which was an orientation/holding area for youth entering the program
  • Primitive, in which the children were taken out into the Escalante River basin with backpacks, sleeping bags, and modest amounts of food;
  • Handcarts, in which the students learned to work together as a team
  • Llamas, the final section of the program, in which the students learned to care for animals and also prepared to return to their homes.

The primitive level start with a two-day fast called "Impact". The regulations for wilderness programs in Utah at that time allowed such a period.

Death of Aaron Bacon

Sixteen-year-old Aaron Bacon was sent to Northstar on February 28, 1994, by his parents. Bacon had been removed from his Phoenix home early that morning where Northstar employees provided the service youth transport firms do today and escorted to Escalante in Utah. This operation took place with his parents' consent--and escorted to Escalante, Utah

During the primitive level he fell ill and his illness was neglected. He lost weight - 131 pounds to 108 pounds, a 17% loss of body mass. He died March 31, 1994, while the employees were making fun of his illness while he was seated in a car waiting to go to medical care.

Several of the employees at the wilderness program was charged with neglect.

His father - Robert Bacon made an opening statement at a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor hearing concerning cases of child neglect and abuse at private residential treatment facilities.

One of defendent - Brent Brewer - agreed to a plea bargain[4]

Some of the employees continued to work in the industry. One staff member Eric Henry moved to the wilderness program Sagewalk

The owners Lance Jagger and William Henry did later plead guilty to failure to train and supervise their wilderness therapy staff [5]. A supervisor Georgette Costigan plead guilty to the same offense.

In the end only Craig Fisher did end up serving time. The rest of the charged employees as well as the owners of the program received fines and probation [6]. He tried to appeal the sentence but it was turned down.

2009 Movie

In 2009 a movie covering the death and aftermath of Aaron Bacons death was released. It was directed by Nick Gaglia and Stephen Michael Kane played Aaron Bacon [7]

External Links

Info pages

Survivor Groups

Message boards

References

  1. The call of the wild, by Anne Palmer Donohoe and Sharon E. Epperson, Time Magazine, June 26, 1995
  2. NORTH STAR AGAIN UNDER SCRUTINY, Deseret News, September 9, 1994 (pay-pr-view)
  3. Bacon Court Document, a thread on the Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora
  4. Northstar Counselor Plea-Bargains, by Christopher Smith, The Salt Lake Tribune, January 19, 1996 (pay-pr-view)
  5. 3 PLEAD GUILTY TO NEGLIGENCE IN TEEN'S DEATH, By Jason Swensen, Deseret News, September 28, 1996
  6. Conviction in '94 death of teen camper upheld Court rejects appeal by former counselor on trek, By Joe Costanzo, Deseret News, December 29, 1998
  7. Aaron Bacon on the Internet movie Database
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