As a documentary living up to its title in nearly every way imaginable, Netflix’s ‘Hell Camp: Teen Nightmare’ can only be described as equal parts baffling, intriguing, haunting, and shocking. That’s because it delves deep into the tale of Steve Cartisano as he evolved from an Air Force officer to the pioneer of wilderness survival camps for troubled teens before utterly falling from grace. Amongst those to thus share their side of the story with him here is Kinney Drellich Edlinger — and now, if you simply wish to learn more about her, we’ve got the necessary details for you.
Who is Kinney?
It was back in 1988 when Walnut Creek, California, native Kinney’s whole world turned upside down as she was sent to join the Challenger Foundation program in Utah at the tender age of 13. The truth is she was really struggling at the time in terms of her emotions: “My mother and I were constantly arguing,” she candidly stated in the original production. “I was not doing well in school. In the month after my father passed away, I did attempt taking my own life.” However, unlike many others, she initially liked the entire chaos, dirt, and energy of the therapy camp owing to the sole fact it was giving her a small sense of purpose while she felt very alone.
“Given everything that was going on in my life… I didn’t mind that it was hard and dusty and dirty, and we all smelled terrible,” Kinney said. “This felt different. There was a different energy about the group. There wasn’t a lot of time to really think about my life. I was purely in survival mode at that point in time. That was comforting for me… I thrived. I really, really enjoyed being there… I felt accomplished. At the end of every single day, I felt accomplished.” She could hence practically see herself turning over a new leaf, making her all the more excited to continue with the program.
But alas, everything internally changed for Kinney when she did the “solo” part of her survival journey because that’s when owner-director Steve Cartisano apparently sexually assaulted her. He’d told her to contact him directly through a walkie-talkie if she felt afraid at any point in her lone hike, and when she did, asking him to bring loti on since her skin was so dry it was peeling, he did. Yet then he allegedly convinced the 13-year-old to let him apply it not just on her back but also her front — fondling her breasts — all the while ignoring her pushes and telling her “it was not a big deal.”
Kinney didn’t say anything back then owing to genuine fear, only to sadly be dismissed when she finally gained the courage a couple of years later to explain a bit of her trauma to her mother. “Not in detail, for sure.” she expressed in the production. “I did tell her he had touched me; he had been sexual with me,” yet the latter didn’t report it because “she thought he was doing something good for the kids and she didn’t want to… ‘upset the apple cart.'” Therefore, it wasn’t until this alleged victim learned of his 2019 passing that she publicly came forward, also admitting it was just recently she realized he was grooming her through manipulation too.
Where is Kinney Now?
Looking back at old footage of Steve these days as an adult, it strikes Kinney “how much he used the word manipulative or how often he described the children as master manipulators.. [when] he was the most masterful manipulator of them all.” Nevertheless, despite every heinous thing this Northgate High graduate has been through, it appears as if she has truly managed to move on from the past to the best of her abilities. In fact, from what we can tell, she currently resides in Vineyard, Utah, where she’s essentially thriving as a single mom of five, an optimist, an animal lover, as well as a full-time employee at Breeze Airways.