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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Elayna is reluctantly taking a practice PSAT. The amount of "but how… 
11th-Oct-2011 02:53 pm
B5: Hostility of the Universe
Elayna is reluctantly taking a practice PSAT. The amount of "but how do I doooo itttt" has provoked massive eyerolls from me and sindrian.


Elayna: "I don't know how this works. I mean, which one of us has taken the PSAT before? I'm pretty sure it's not me."

Me: "Or me."

Elayna: "How have you never taken the PSAT?"

Me: "...because I spent my junior year killing snakes in the Utah desert to get a little protein in my cornmeal mush?"

Elayna: "...that's a joke, right?"

Me: "Uh, no. I have told you about the wilderness survival camp before!"

Elayna: "But - during the school year?!?"

Me: *cracking up* "It wasn't a vacation!"

I needed the extra protein because of the miles of daily hiking and, later, pulling handcarts all over the mountains outside of Cedar City and St. George. We had crappy sleeping bags, and our "tents" were lean-tos made with plain blue tarps. Yes, this was in winter. Yes, I was from Florida. We had "solar showers" - bags of unheated water. Breakfast was oatmeal or mush cooked in blue metal cups at the campfire, lunch was sunflower seeds and raisins; dinner was rice with lentils and, in the last third of the "experience", some Veg-All. The "counselors" were pretty much the types of power-trippers you'd expect. The "camp" had been shut down in its previous incarnation because some "campers" died. The version I was in got shut down two years after I left for the same reason.

That's how I spent my junior year. Child better not whine at me any more about having to take a practice test. Child has clean clothes, central heating, a bed, and no adults in her life who are actively trying to break her; her adults just want her to try the casserole they just made. Sheeeee-it, as sindrian and I would say.
11th-Oct-2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
I had no idea that you did this, or even that such things existed. What was the camp called?
11th-Oct-2011 07:28 pm (UTC)

I was in one of the Challenger offshots (Sequoia). The regular length of the program is two months, but I got held back and had to repeat the first month both times they sent me (I was deemed not cured enough after the first time, and was sent back after two weeks at home), so I was in for a total of six months.

I now have serious zombie apocalypse survival skills.
11th-Oct-2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
Holy shit! So the best way to deal with emotional problems is to dehydrate and starve kids! Holy ... I... I don't even have words.

And you survived that. It's like... Whoa.

11th-Oct-2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
So the best way to deal with emotional problems is to dehydrate and starve kids!

That isn't obvious to you? Clearly you are too soft.

(These people scare me.)
11th-Oct-2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
The theory, so far as I can tell, was that if you break the kids, they'll stop "acting out".

I think the out gay kids had it worst. Massive torture from the counselors and fellow campers.

I've written about this before, but a while ago and in bits and pieces, so the posts are hard to find... I really should write up the definitive post on the topic!
11th-Oct-2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
please do! this is all new information to me (and probably to others of your readers and fans)

I've heard of 'Outward Bound', but as far as I know that's an entirely voluntary program, unlike what you described here.

Edited at 2011-10-11 08:03 pm (UTC)
11th-Oct-2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
Very different!!! I went to the Outdoor Academy in the Pisgah Forest (near Brevard, NC, about an hour from Asheville) and THAT program is very much about learning natural history and environmental studies, ways to live WELL with the earth while doing the things you do, strengthening its students on their own and their connections with classmates and fellow man in general. While OA wasn't overly keen on body modifications, gay students were respected just as much as straight ones. (Or bi, or confused, etc.) Sexuality was something that could be discussed, but your orientation was irrelevant--the semester there was not for hanky panky! Heh. There was some crossover between people who went to OA with me (or work there) and folks who've done Outward Bound. From my understanding, the only overlap between either program and the %#@ place Song went to is that they both happen to involve some sort of camping and doing a lot outside.
11th-Oct-2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
Holy... no words. (Followed both links. Am horrified. I have no words at all.)
11th-Oct-2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
Truthfully, the camps are just the tip of the iceberg. The schools are just as horrifying.
11th-Oct-2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
Whoa Nellie! Holy mind-bogglement! How'd it come to pass that you did this?!


(But wow, you must have an amazing sense of accomplishment at the end of it... not that that's worth risking death for, though--jeez!)

(Okay, I see from the article above that this was not some fun adventure you chose for yourself. Jesus H. Christ, the things people will subject kids to. )

Edited at 2011-10-11 07:33 pm (UTC)
11th-Oct-2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
I remember you mentioning this to me once.

Also, you can tell her I never did PSAT either. (I moved to Canada and they didn't use it here.)
11th-Oct-2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
I took the PSAT with a 104 degree fever, because no-one in my house had ever taken one before and none of us knew that I could have arranged to take it the next weekend over at the local Catholic school. As a result, I only got the Commendation Letter, instead of getting the SERIOUS REAL $$$ SCHOLARSHIP money that is riding on this test.

Just because they call it a "P", Pre or Practice test, doesn't mean it isn't real. Good grades on this can be worth a few thousand bucks.

11th-Oct-2011 08:13 pm (UTC)
As a result, I only got the Commendation Letter, instead of getting the SERIOUS REAL $$$ SCHOLARSHIP money that is riding on this test.

AUUUUGH. Seriously, the National Merit Scholarships ride on this, IIRC. BIG DEAL. Even being a runnerup, as I was, got me some Very Nice Offers from colleges, and a vast quantity of college literature pouring into my mailbox.
11th-Oct-2011 08:23 pm (UTC) - Yup.
When I took it it was called the PSAT-NMSQT, National Merit Semi-Qualifying Test. This is where big scholarship money was. (Scholarships: I haz'd it?)
11th-Oct-2011 08:45 pm (UTC) - Re: Yup.
Yeah, that's what it was called when I took it, too. Back in the early 90s.
11th-Oct-2011 08:57 pm (UTC) - Re: Yup.
Same for me, and I took it in the early 1970s.
12th-Oct-2011 04:27 pm (UTC) - Re: Yup.
Wow, great memory.
11th-Oct-2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Has the kid never taken standardized tests before? o.O It's really not that hard of a deal. The PSAT will simply let her know what to expect on the SAT and what to study for.
11th-Oct-2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, she has! She's just having an attack of the don't-wannas.
11th-Oct-2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
If she treats it as just another standardized test, she'll do fine except this one is sort of a jumping-off point for college placement. While I always did well on such tests, for some reason I scored relatively low on the SAT (my older sister got something like 1100 combined, mine was only 900). I'm very bright, I just tend to over-think things and that was my downfall on a timed test such as this. That may be a good bit of advice for her: don't overanalyze. From what I recall, no answer weighs the same as a wrong answer so try to go with your gut and complete as much as possible.
11th-Oct-2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
Is the PSAT still just a multiple-choice test? If so, tell her its like all the other insufferable multiple-choice tests she's been subjected to, the format's just a little different.

And I think your junior year beats most people's "up the hill in the snow both ways" stories.
11th-Oct-2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
The subject of boot camps and the abuse they deal to kids came up on one of the blogs I was reading on the weekend. I thought of you. I'm glad you survived.
11th-Oct-2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
What I don't understand is why they sent you there in the first place. I get that it's for kids who supposedly "act out" but what did you do or what did they say you did?

(not saying it was your fault just trying to understand)
11th-Oct-2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that a scholarship depended on the thing--I thought that it was JUST a practice test. I was utterly nonplussed about it since I'd taken the SAT in 7th grade. I actually didn't realize WHEN it was until the day of, at school. I'd stayed up late working on other projects for class. I found out about the scholarship AFTER the test was administered. >_
12th-Oct-2011 12:34 am (UTC)
I never took the PSAT, for entirely different reasons: took the SAT at 13, dropped out of high school due to my sleep disorder and started community college at 14. Got my GED at 19, well after my first (and second) job.

Why yes, I do have a tendency to do things backwards, why do you ask?

12th-Oct-2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
The PSAT is basically (unless it's changed since the 90's) a multiple-choice test of stuff you either know or you don't know. If you don't know it, you can make your best guess (if you're not solid on what the answer is, but have a guess) or just skip it (if you have NO clue at all).
12th-Oct-2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
It is mostly multiple choice, with a few math problems where one is supposed to give numerical answers (in the world's most annoying way.) I'm working as a math tutor, and helping some kids prepare for the math part of the exam.
12th-Oct-2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
Has the SAT adding an essay portion and stuff changed the PSAT?
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