May 26, 2005

Girls becoming like men, and other side effects

A legacy of the early 19th-century Romantic movement is the idea that wilderness is good for you, that contemplating "sublime" landscapes will make you morally a better person.

In practice, that believe has spawned wilderness camps for "troubled" teenagers. "63 Days" is a sort of reconstructed blog by a writer who says she was "kidnapped from her bed" at age 15 and sent to Challenger, a camp in southern Utah. (Utah has the market cornered in wilderness rehabilitation: rigid Mormon values plus lots of public land.)

Sometimes on rests, the girls would sit together talking about how they wanted to make traps to kill mice and eat them. They’d sit perched on rocks, knees apart, elbows leaning on them. They were becoming almost like men.

It's a long, absorbing read.

(Thanks to Zero Boss.)

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