Since my initial post on the New Warriors Training Adventure, I have been asking around for reactions to the weekend. Also, I have been in contact with a large group of people who have attended one of the initiations. There is much secrecy surrounding this organization and the tone often borders on fear. I plan a series of posts on this topic to provide some information about what has been a fairly popular recommendation within reparative therapy circles. In fact, a couple of years ago, there was a significant rift in the New Warriors about a local branch that hosted a talk by Joseph Nicolosi. More on that in a later post.
I start with an account by an alum of the weekend and the follow up program, used by permission but anonymously. This describes reactions to the “welcome” offered by the staff of NWTA.
When you arrive at the NWTA all your possessions are taken away from you and searched. I didn’t want to hand over my camera because it cost a lot of money back then and I didn’t want them to have it.
They asked me if I had a camera and I said no. Then they opened my duffle bag and emptied everything on the floor and searched it. They opened my sleeping bag too. They found the camera and were angry that I lied to them. They took everything away, including tooth brush and tooth paste. (You know after all these years it’s still a little painful to remember this.) The only thing we were allowed to keep was an extra change of clothing, extra shoes, sleeping bag and pillow. Everything else was violently taken away from us.
After they searched my belongings, then they searched me. They did a pat down frisk, like the police do to a criminal. I was told to give up wallet, car keys, cell phone, money, jewelry, wedding ring, everything. We were not allowed to keep one thing on our bodies except our clothing.
I felt like a common criminal. The whole time they yelled at us, degraded us. They wouldn’t let us look at the other men. We could only look where they told us too look. The whole time this was done by men who were dressed in total black. They also had black makeup on their faces to conceal their identities.
After this we were all taken to a small damp room and instructed to sit on a damp concrete floor. This was some kind of storage shed. There was no heat. This was in November. There was only one candle for light. After all the men were taken into this room, someone came in and yelled and cussed at us and he kicked over the candle, putting it out. We were then locked in this dark, totally lightless room for several hours.
I was cold and I was in pain sitting on the concrete floor. I didn’t know who was around me. I was separated from my friend that I came to the NWTA with. I didn’t know where he was and I wasn’t allowed to be by him. I began to cry. At last a door opened and we were allowed to go out. It was night and there was total darkness in the sky. We arrived at the NWTA at about 5 pm and it was light. Now it was after 9 pm and dark. Four hours in that lightless room. It was like I was kidnapped by a gang of terrorists.
I am aware this program is controversial and some who like NWTA might say that this is an unfair negative appraisal. However, the consistency of those who I am in contact with is significant and matches the stories of others who are more positive about the weekend. I provide this and future posts for information purposes.
Another blog that analyzes human potential groups has picked up on this issue a bit here…