Popular camp has a horrible secret

Popular camp has a horrible secret

Aby Fiddler, Senior Reporter

Lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Association for Research and Enlightenment on Wednesday, 28th 2021 for years of sexual assault at the hands of camp staff. 

Association for Research and Enlightenment is a 90-year-old organization that teaches the young campers about the meaning of life, meditation, and holistic health. The founder of ARE was Edgar Cayce, who was a psychiatrist, who practiced in 1931. Cayce was described as the “father of holistic medicine” and was also the “most documented psychic of the 20th century.” 

Located in Rural Retreat, Virginia, the camp opened in the 1960s. Many many years of sexual assault followed. The abusers’ ages ranged from late teens to at least 40s. The staff would teach the girls to give unconditional love and forgiveness towards the older staff members even to the ones who had assaulted the young girls. 

Some adult male staff members would abuse the girls with impunity. 

“The organization made a rape culture possible,” said Lysney Doe, a victim of the assaults at the camp, in a vurtual news conference. Doe told the camp manager that she was raped at age 13.

The first time I was raped by an adult counselor, I was 13. I reported it to the camp manager and nothing was done.”  A male counselor, age 18 or 19, forced Doe to play “Spin the Bottle” when she was 12. During the game the counselor had assaulted Doe and digitally raped her. 

When Doe returned at age 17 for the young adult retreat she was forced to forgive her abuser. 

“I returned to camp and I was forced to participate in a so-called ‘Forgiveness Circle,’ which meant I had to hug my abuser and say I forgave him. It was a horrible, degrading experience.” 

Hannah Furbush is another victim who came forward and said she was assaulted, harassed, and raped over 100 times while being at that camp. 

Furbush had been coerced into participating in an event they called “Liberated Underwear Movement” where the female campers would run around in their underwear. She also spoke about a “Goddess Night” where female campers would also run around naked and the male campers would yell at them from the hilltop. 

At 20, Furbush was assaulted by a camp director who had massaged her and tried to kiss her against her will. She reported this assault and another assault that occurred to her and nothing happened to either staff member. 

“It was my job as the victim to meditate or go to healing prayer or journal my trauma away while these dangerous men were given promotions and allowed to stay.” said Furbush. 

Doe also said to sources that, “A.R.E spiritual teachings set the stage for a silent epidemic of sexual assault and violence against young children and women, including myself.” 

“I feel like this is a powerful quote. It’s really true because yes we see all these court cases about sexual assault but there is that very silent epidemic that haven’t come forward.” said Leah, a student at Naugatuck High school. 

Reading into the articles, one had mentioned that there were more than 20 identified as victims, this was said by the spokesman for the law firm Ed Vasquez. Some of the cases of assault and harassment date back to the 1970s and as early as three years ago or less. 

The lawsuit they have against the camp has been around since possibly Wednesday, April 28th 2021. There are two lawsuits and there also might be another lawsuit too.