Boot Camp Memories

Me? After a week on the job I found another truck driving job in the hopes of steering clear of as much of the world as I could.

Photo by Will Truettner on Unsplash

It’s not just Trump and it has been going on for a very long time.

Remember boot camps for troubled teens? I guess it was about 25 years ago I took a job as a camp councilor in a boot camp for troubled boys as I felt I needed some time away from the road, and thought I might make some child’s life better. Never mind that I had no training, no experience, and had only worked construction and drove trucks for a living. Never mind that I had never been to college. I enjoyed being outdoors so they hired me on the spot, and put me to work the day I applied, living and working with the boys. They didn’t even do a criminal background check before inviting me to come to work immediately.

Most of the boys were about the same age as my own son.

So what was their idea of teaching boys discipline and hard work? They had a giant pile of gravel and every day no matter what the weather, it was my job to oversee the boys as they graveled the trails throughout the many acres of the facility.

And when they were finished building the gravel trails they raked up, shoveled up, and wheeled away wheelbarrow loads of the same gravel in order to rebuild the giant gravel pile. One day they built trails, the next day they built the pile six days a week. They worked like dogs beginning their days before sunrise.

Then they got cleaned up before Bible study began.

After Bible Study they went to school. The 3 Rs, Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic, nothing more. No job training, no life skills, no computers. I was so happy that my own son was learning coding in public school. It would be well into the night before they finally were allowed to return to their tents to sleep, too tired to cause any trouble. There were no hot dogs roasted on sticks, no singing around the camp fire, no bond fires, and no marshmallow and chocolate s’mores.

I talked with many of the boys. Most had never done anything other boys didn’t do. Most had never done anything I never did when I was a kid. Most had never been in trouble with the law. And while there were a handful of court ordered minority boys whose expenses were being paid by North Carolina taxpayers the vast majority were white, upper middle class boys whose parents just didn’t want to be bothered with them.

I made it from Monday until Friday, picked up my pay check on Friday evening and never went back. I just couldn’t stomach being a part of treating children this way.

It didn’t begin with Trump. Trump just brought them out of hiding. The boys I spent a week with are 40 and older now, raising families of their own. Some of them swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Others rejected everything about that place. Ideologically they are complete opposites. There will be no story book ending for any of them. Of this I am sure.

Me? After a week on the job I found another truck driving job in the hopes of steering clear of as much of the world as I could.

Were all the boot camps that way? I can’t say but one in North Carolina sure was.

I have chosen to write outside the Medium paywall thus making my poems, stories, and articles available to more readers. My writing is supported entirely via your donations via Ko-Fi. If you’d like to read more of my works you can always find me at Thank you for reading and sharing. -Billy

I'm just a retired long-haul trucker who exchanged his rig for pen, paper, and keyboard. Read more at