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Trails Carolina camp death and the troubled teen industry

WBTV Trails Carolina footage
WBTV Trails Carolina footage

Earlier this month, a 12-year-old camper at a North Carolina wilderness camp was found dead in a cabin at the camp.

Shortly after the boy’s death, all children were removed from the camp. This was not the first time a death occurred at the Trails Carolina camp, which is the focus of a yearslong investigation by WBTV.

And injuries and deaths are more common at many youth wilderness camps nationwide. So, why are so many kids attending wilderness camps like Trails Carolina?

We’ll talk about the mission behind wilderness camps for youth — or residential treatment camps — what causes families to send their children there, and hear the stories of some campers.

We’ll also hear about the investigation at Trails Carolina and what conditions may have led to the camper’s death there this month.


  • Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s executive producer for investigations & chief investigative reporter
  • Meg Appelgate, co-founder and CEO of Unsilenced
  • Alan Mortensen, attorney with Mortensen & Milne Law
  • Nicolle Okoren, journalist who wrote about residential treatment camps for The Guardian
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Charlotte Talks Executive Producer Wendy Herkey has been with WFAE since 1998, beginning in the membership department, and has been on the Charlotte Talks staff since 1999.