Student shares mental health experiences and colorful camper

Oct. 6, 2014

Samantha Morley, Kyle Guthrie
[email protected], [email protected]

UFO enthusiast, belly dancer and former cocaine addict Elise Eagle has been spotted traveling around campus in a colorful camper.

Affectionately deemed the “Camper Caper,” the vehicle is covered in inspirational bumper stickers, a map of the United States and colorful handprints.

Eagle said she began collecting handprints in Salida, Colo.

Rafters would come off the river and she would ask them to put their painted handprints on the camper. Hers and some of her friends’ hands are also on the vehicle. The tires, mirror frames, bumpers, window frames and the spare tire cover are decked out with colorful hands and peace signs.

“[The camper] was so bland and dull and I didn’t want to paint it but I wanted something fun,” Eagle said.

The camper was originally her mother’s. It was sold, repurchased and then Eagle’s mother went on a trip to the Philippines to visit her half-brother. Her mother didn’t return and Eagle got to keep the camper.

A map of the United States on the side of the vehicle shows where her mother traveled. Almost all of the states are filled in. “It’s kind of like my happy camper,” she said.

The camper has, however, gotten Eagle into some trouble.

Four years ago, Eagle was in Penrose, Colo. and drove the camper into a car wash. She underestimated the height and got the vehicle stuck. Police officials came to the scene, charged her with felony mischief and a DUI. She was on mental medication at the time.

“I didn’t do any felony mischief. It was an accident,” Eagle said.

She ended up spending time in solitary confinement, a month in the state hospital and time in jail. She went through two trials and a third was scheduled. The last trial was dismissed due to a biased jury about six months ago.

Since then, Eagle has returned to school and is now a graduate public administration student.

Eagle has also written books about her fascination with UFOs and her experience with mental health problems. Her book “Journey to Heaven by Way of Hell” details her life. It is an exploration about how she developed her life filters as well as overcoming her mental illness to live happier.

“How does a well-bred, well-educated successful engineer fall from grace and end up a crack whore?” she wrote as the opening line of her book. “I am a free spirit with a big mouth,” Eagle wrote in chapter one.

Eagle takes medical marijuana to cope with her mental state. “

Medical marijuana is the one drug that actually helps me cope with my mental illness,” she wrote in chapter twelve.

When she isn’t at school, Eagle spends most of her time in Manitou Springs participating in belly dancing events and drum groups.