Please hear me out. I am very willing to fully acknowledge the potential of positive influence and inspiration and skills fostered to many past campers over the years. I will even go so far as to say that Spence Dickinson has on the whole, to the best of his mindful and functional ability, genuinely cared to devote his life and contribute well to the community and to new generations. It has been long said that Mr. Spence is a Horse Whisperer. And the CRAFTS of Partnership is well-meaning. However the principle of this matter at hand does not regard those very limited aspects of Spence's Farm.
This particular trajectory of a flare-up has been a long-time-coming to this establishment and was in all plausibility, very inevitable. For anyone who has even a bit payed attention, Spence's Farm has had a very long recurring pattern of *many* employees quitting at the same time. As far as anyone who has discussed with others who have known it's dealings first-hand, Spence's Farm has virtually always been operating in crisis-mode.
Perhaps this would be an obvious tell-tale sign. Even with the understanding that this has been an educational farm, It will be interesting to see just how many folks will happen to hear of this particular published de-evolution, of which will come forth to mention their own personal account of their child becoming seriously injured, etc. From the little I know, there has been some pretty scary shit, on a much too regular basis. Ie: Neglect for the Horses and other animals, though I will say no more about that. I was told that the owner has PTSD from Vietnam, which was theorized as to why he has been capable of such severity in neglect for himself; of which in turn, renders the level of inflexibility, disfunction and lack of successful management or care for his constantly rotating cast of staffers and campers of the program at large.
Regarding the long string of factual corporate cult pressuring of employees to include: The (probably-illegal) use of business credit cards to pay for mind bridge's/legacy center's costly 'trainings' (please google for the endless accounts of the horrible black-listed scheme) and have that docked and pro-rated out of future paychecks, Not paying for any over-time work, Unfair treatment of Employees, Mistreatment of Employees who stand their ground in their choice not to participate in the corporate cult in which Mr. Spence has been involved with, and Being defensive-on-the-offense towards staffers who expect,implore or demand reasonable improvements to ensure basic standards for workable conditions, etc.
With the understanding that this has been an educational farm, and is a great rustic, old-fashioned, nature-oriented opportunity for learning experiences, it does understandably come with the territory of increased risk for some outdoorsy injuries. That is to be anticipated and possibly, within reason, expected. That is one thing. But in addition to Mr. Spence's denial for regard for common-sensical safety precautions, or even to his audacious, seemingly-arbitrary refusal to comply with the fundamental need for some very obvious and most basic child-safety standards, mind even improvements of the facilities and grounds: Let's just say that there have in fact been many serious injuries to our community's children over the years that could have been easily prevented, had the Farm been open enough to listen to suggestions, requests and earnest advice from those various voices of concern over the years. Sadly, the Safety Issue at this Educational Kids Farm is Nothing New.
In addition to hiring some great local students, graduates and educational counselors and professionals, Spence has also been known to pride himself on taking in people in need to the point of sometimes hiring drug addicts, alcoholics, some of which have been warned against as even being inappropriate or unsafe to be around children. Yes, I finally wrote this. I might guess that the 'saviour' type of complex seems to be about an inferiority-complex, but more importantly, a problem with control. The continued co-dependence and disgusting lack of boundaries (on all fronts!) has been one of the largest monstrosities of the program.
Crazy-Making: No consistency for the staffers. With all due respect,: It has been literally traumatic for more than a few individuals. A vortex that ask for everything you have to give, then asks for more. Always crisis-mode. It would seem that Spence's Farm for Kids really does have so much potential. But unfortunately, and I'm sorry to say, that that timeless-glorified potential, is all it's ever had to bait.
From what little I knew from so many years ago, Spence never seemed too-dangerously off... But in hindsight, while remembering more of the *BIG* 'little' things, it's actually pretty clear that there were enough detections of it being actually, pretty bad, even way back when. (Ie: Sometimes it is convenient for the mind to deal with severely negative things, by forgetting those more disturbing occurrences. I really wish I'd found a way to communicate this unsettling subject matter sooner.)
UPSETTING: Sadly, It does seem that the Indy's well-written, informative article speaks for itself. OF the little I do know for sure, I will attest that 100% of the listed complaints in the article, (including the physical force) do completely resonate with everything I either know or have strongly suspected were within the realm of unsafe supervision or inappropriate, mindless behavior. Especially based on past behavior. WHETHER UNCONSCIOUS BEHAVIOUR OR OTHERWISE. I say this in no way to defame the person whatsoever, but rather to state a very basic, informative point for example: HYPOTHETICALLY: A very important mindful discernment about whether or not I would ever dare entrust the lives of my kids' at that place: The answer is clearly NEVER.
For anyone who actually does know this owner personally: Based on even a tenth of the quoted exchanges from this article, I would bet that you will find that in more recent decades/years, Spence Dickinson's increased level of sheer denial of reality as ego defense mechanism for his dysfunctions and failings of his magnum opus, aka the Farm, to be likely clinically severe at this time. I would like to forgive this person for what he hasn't been capable to do decently or better for our community due to his hardships.... For 'what he knows not what he does'....Professionally and beyond. And honestly, though I have compassion for this person, I am glad to have written what I have for the sake of feeling the need to prevent anyone from risking any mistaken, blind, ignorant trust in a 'less-than-nurturing' farm experience in future.
I am saddened to see this go down in this way. I hope that, in addition specifically that the individuals deeply recently affected by the scary stuff find peace from that, that Spence too finds some real healing.
Thanks for this New Feature.
Be sure to see the documentary,: "SLUDGE DIET"
Many of your likely question might then be answered, about: "What's the deal with Sludge!?" ~ even if it presents even bigger questions about it in general. . .
At least Informed Consumers [relatively] Have A Say. We are the consumers, anyway.
And either way, we might as well become aware of what, we have already begun, being subjected to. . . We might as well know, now ~ to make our own appropriate decisions, personally; We certainly deserve that much.
Thanks again, INDYWEEK, for including this.
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