Dream Camp Became My Nightmare

October 1998
One Mother's Story about Friends Landing

I went to "Dream Camp" at "Friends Landing" to experience personal growth and to be with my son. I was excited about going and nervous at the same time. I knew the information would be new to me, but I welcomed the chance to learn about the things my son believes. I had some uncomfortable feelings about the leader, WhiteWind Swan Fisher, formerly known as Susan Kilborne Musumeci, which I didn't completely understand at first. My worst fears became a living nightmare. I have come to realize that my son is not thinking critically and appears to be a victim of some type of mind control.

Here is my story

My son asked me to attend Dream Camp at Friends Landing in the summer of 1998. It is advertised as an "imaginative educational experience". Every time we talked, he told me how wonderful it would be--how it changes peoples' lives. He described it as a "spiritual event" and I expected to be introduced to many new ideas. I was flattered that my son, whom I have always had a close relationship with--wanted to share his way of living with me. I am also interested in self-improvement and personal growth. Over the years I have read many self-improvement, communication, and child development books. All of these factors helped me decide to spend $1,750.00--the cost for twelve days at Dream Camp. My son was very excited that I would attend.

The leader for Dream Camp and of Friends Landing, WhiteWind Swan Fisher--wanted to meet with me before the camp began to be sure my goals were clear and to answer any questions I had. I paid $60.00 for an hour session and $90.00 for another--to satisfy that preparation requirement.

I wrote in my journal on June 14th--"I'm nervous about it [Dream Camp] as I have no idea really what it will be like. I trust my son that it would be something I would like…for the past few months as he urged me to go. WhiteWind seems to be a kind person and I trust that she wants people to lead happy lives. . . looking forward to a shared experience with my son".

During my stay at Dream Camp--several things confused me. Why did it appear that everything centered on WhiteWind's needs? Why did people wait on her and seem intimidated by her? Why was it okay for her to joke around and yet when other people did, it was called a distraction? There appeared to be a double standard of acceptable behavior. My son had told me WhiteWind was someone with the highest of integrity, but I began to have doubts about that.

On the first day of Dream Camp, I was very emotional all day. My son explained that many people get like this--because of the "energy" there. They call it a "release". I honestly told him I was not completely happy he was part of such an unusual alternative group. However, I went on to make new friends and tried to keep an open mind to all these new experiences.

Overall, Dream Camp was relaxing, but the reservations I had about the leader, WhiteWind--kept me from feeling the same positive regard towards her that I felt towards her followers in the group. While they were kind, loving and honest--she was at times temperamental. I felt WhiteWind did not fulfill my expectations of a spiritual leader. This bothered me because I wanted to believe my son's mentor was everything he thought she was. I found myself making rationalizations to calm my fears and convince myself that things were okay.

I remember joking with the group that I felt like a foreign exchange student--their environment, customs and language were so alien to me. I was encouraged not to wear a watch, read or listen to the news--but rather to "feel" what was happening next. They assured me that I would get into the "rhythm". I really wanted to understand their terminology. The language they used was so different. People would say "ho" when in agreement with what others were saying. There were many references to "releases", "witnessing" people or feelings, "expressing" and especially "conditioning". I heard these terms over and over. They said everything came from "conditioning", which was usually referred to negatively. To be real and "awake", I was told--one had to get rid of the "conditioning". It was unclear to me why we needed this new language to grow spiritually.

There was a ritual where camp participants could get up and "express" (mostly to other participants role-playing their relatives) in the circle, anything that he/she was angry about. All such activities were video taped. One woman called on people in the circle to represent her uncles, who abused her as a child. She yelled and screamed at them. Other people she chose in the circle stood at her side to support her. There was so much extreme emotion expressed. I wondered why some group members, after so many years--still had so much anger to express.


Again--there were many times that I felt WhiteWind did not behave consistent with my expectations of a spiritual leader. But I have always been an extremely trusting person--so I tried to rationalize my fears and convince myself that everything was really all right.


Other things bothered me at Dream Camp, but since I was one of the few newcomers, I felt more comfortable observing the group and not commenting. It was very disturbing though when WhiteWind would yell at someone and humiliate him/her in front of the group--in the name of "teaching".

When she asked the group if they understood why she had to do that, they all nodded in agreement. It seemed that I was not the only one who felt uncomfortable. When I asked my son about this later, he defended WhiteWind and said--she was being a friend to each person that she yelled at. It made me sad that he tolerated such behavior so blindly--which would never be so easily accepted in our family.

One night when we were at circle, a couple of men who live on the property were doing some burning. Several people in the circle voiced concern that the fire was getting too big. A neighbor must have reported it--because a fire truck soon came up the driveway. WhiteWind ran over, and as if surprised, said to the firemen that she didn't know if there was a fire, but to go ahead up the driveway and take a look. I felt a twinge in my stomach--wondering how on earth she didn't know there was a fire when members who expressed concern that it was getting out of control had mentioned it. A person with high integrity does not evade the truth.

There were several dogs on the property. I enjoyed them, but they were in and out of the circle meeting room and barking whenever someone came up the driveway. Since meditation was a new practice for me, I asked if we could keep the dogs out of the room for a quieter environment that might be more conducive to better meditation. The dogs made it hard for me to concentrate. WhiteWind said they would keep the dogs out of the room and asked if everyone else would like that. Almost everyone raised his or her hand, which seemed to surprise her.

Several evenings later, the dogs all ran barking to see who was pulling up on the driveway. WhiteWind said, "Be careful, she (pointing me out) already has kennel papers drawn up on the dogs." In some situations it might have been a funny comment, but within this context it felt passive-aggressive. A sensitive leader would not single out a person and ridicule them under the guise of humor.

Another troubling incident occurred one evening when WhiteWind went to dinner. She harshly reprimanded the kitchen staff because the salt and pepper shakers were put twelve inches away from where she had instructed them to be placed. In a group that claims and values higher consciousness and spiritual growth-- how could this trivial oversight be met with such a harsh response? These were not the signs of an enlightened leader and spiritual counselor and "Shaman"/guide.

An odd, but common thing within the group-was that almost anything happening to someone was explained as being caused by something spiritual and/or supernatural. More obvious explanations such as personal responsibility seemed to be constantly overlooked in favor of something mystical instead. For example, good things that happened to someone while at Dream Camp--would be attributed to the "great energy" of the people and our location. Bad things, like an infection in a dog's eye--were attributed to old "conditioning" or holding in feelings. Old conditioning somehow caused something negative (e.g. infection) to arise somewhere else. All this seemed to gather resonance in the group and may have had more than a little affect on suggestible minds--it seemed to affect me that way. Again--I continued to feel nagging reservations about WhiteWind--as a spiritual leader and as my son's and his fellow member's mentor.

In early August, I returned to Oregon with my youngest son, my grandmother and two nephews. It was a long trip but we were eager to visit my son who was living at Friends Landing. Later, that day we were invited to "the porch" for a visit with WhiteWind and her mother. During that visit my younger son told WhiteWind that he had touched the electric fence, which surrounds the property and was shocked badly. We were both surprised by her reaction--she didn't show any real concern or compassion.

During that visit I noted a pattern in WhiteWind's behavior. In one instance, she asked my oldest son to bring some water for her--explaining it was too difficult for her due to pain in her knees. However, later I watched WhiteWind walk briskly to a garage about 100 yards away. A bit later she moved quickly to take a phone call in another room. Another example of this pattern of behavior occurred about 1: 00 AM one morning. A younger member of WhiteWind's family who was extremely distressed over personal problems wanted cigarettes in the middle of the night. WhiteWind advised her go wake up my son to fetch cigarettes. He promptly dressed and drove to a store ten miles away--so the young girl would not be without cigarettes that night. This left me with a large "clang" in my stomach.

I expressed to my grandmother that I didn't understand why I felt more comfortable with WhiteWind's mother than I did with WhiteWind. My 90 year-old grandmother, whom I had not discussed any of my uneasy feelings with said--"Well, it's just a business for her (WhiteWind) isn't it"? When I talked to my son about my unsettling feelings--he admitted that sometimes he felt this way himself. WhiteWind taught him to deal with such feelings by directly confronting the source/ person. Certainly in an ideal setting this would be good, but such a confrontation can be entirely manipulated. After we left, my son discussed his misgivings with WhiteWind--he was easily satisfied by her answers and explanations.

During my visit, my son asked if my husband and I would fund or loan him money for a "Spherical Reality" course, which WhiteWind was giving. The cost was $5,000.00 for ten weekend seminars. I told him we wouldn't. We wholeheartedly financially support his college education, but this seemed like an extravagant and questionable expense to us.

When I returned home, I felt an extremely strong urge to call my son and say--"get out of there." I told my husband that I wasn't sure why, but my intuition told me things were not as they seemed. I saw and felt subtle changes in my son that were not positive or in his best interest.

My son called me at home the next week and told me that WhiteWind had suggested that he ask his relatives for money to pay her for the course. I told him I was uncomfortable with this idea--why couldn't he just wait and take the class when he was out of school? What was the urgency? My husband agreed with me and called our son. Our son suggested he speak directly to WhiteWind. My husband called her, as suggested-- her response was an explosion of insults about my husband, my son and me.

Our concerns about WhiteWind and Friends Landing continued to grow. We wanted more information about healthy and unhealthy group structures and sought that information through the Internet. We contacted several experts on cultic behavior and researched public records. My worst fears were magnified when I discovered that WhiteWind had used four different names in her life, owed delinquent taxes with her former husband and owes taxes for Friends Landing too. Moreover, she and her mother have a history of bankruptcy.

Then I discovered a malpractice suit brought against WhiteWind regarding her conduct as a MFCC therapist in 1994. I was told this suit was later dismissed with prejudice due to the statute of limitations and because Susan Kilborne (aka WhiteWind) had no malpractice insurance. What struck me while reading the malpractice court case was the nature of the allegations against Susan Kilborne Musumeci--now known as WhiteWind. Much of what was claimed seemed familiar to me through my experiences at Dream Camp and with my son.

WhiteWind has an incredible amount of influence over my son. He rents a trailer from her, works on her property and for her businesses. She instructs him on fiscal responsibility and he holds her in the highest regard--getting defensive over any criticism of her or her ideas. He tells her everything, which is discussed with him. She is his teacher, therapist, "Shaman", friend, and employer. Where are any meaningful boundaries in this relationship?

My son refused to deal with our concerns. He is so much under WhiteWind's influence--he says he will not "hear" them. We have advised our son regarding our concerns as best we could--such as financial exploitation and manipulation. He only becomes extremely defensive and seems to be able to rationalize anything WhiteWind does. He says that suspicion and judgment are not acceptable in his world. This is confusing to us and seems irrational.

A caring spiritual leader would respond to parental concerns with understanding and compassion--facilitate a meaningful dialogue for working together to keep our family intact. Instead, I have received vaguely threatening letters from WhiteWind's brother--who is a lawyer. He advises that I should have no further written or oral contact with WhiteWind, her family or Friends Landing. This certainly doesn't sound like the "conscious" spiritual way of communication--but it does remind me of my grandmother's observation that WhiteWind is running a business.

We have told our story to many people. Several experts in the field of "destructive group behaviors" said that Friends Landing did not sound like a healthy group. There is a seeming lack of meaningful checks and balances, which provide for accountability and safety.

We organized an intervention for our son to educate him regarding such issues of concern. This occurred when he came home for a visit (actually he was in the area for WhiteWind's Spherical Reality course). He had lost weight and looked extremely thin and tired. Weeks earlier he said he only spent $40.00 for three weeks of groceries. He seems to be giving a large part of his money to Friends Landing--at the expense of his health and physical well being.

I love my son very much. I hope that one day, very soon, he will be able to see how Friends Landing has affected his life. I miss my son--our long discussions about everything. He used to be so open, non-judgmental and never so defensive. We could discuss anything and share our opinions--still accepting and loving one another despite our differences.

I am waiting for him to let us know where he lives and when he will see us again. We are anxious to reunite him with our family--so we will be whole again. That day will be my dream come true!

Copyright © 1998 The Rick Ross Institute.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.