• How a Teen Wilderness Program Can Help Your Son or Daughter

    How a Teen Wilderness Program Can Help Your Son or Daughter

    While not exactly a summer camp, teen wilderness programs for at-risk youths is a proven and effective means for parents to deal with their son or daughter in a manageable manner. For many parents, there rarely are many other alternatives than to remove the youth from the home, however, an overriding concern in most parent’s minds is whether the teen wilderness program will result in the outcomes desired, which can range from sobriety, behavioral modification, addressing issues related to co-dependency, and even, traditional psychological and psychiatric issues as well. These wilderness programs deploy the notion that removing the teen from his or her current environment is the best means possible for isolating problematic behaviors and addressing these issues. However, teen wilderness programs also couple this approach with an understanding of the value of physical involvement in the therapeutic process (praxis) for youth, as well as deploy nature itself as a clinical setting to assist with cognitive and behavioral breakthroughs.

    What are Teen Wilderness Programs?

    All programs will vary, but the programs attempt to address those issues often associated with teens, which can include defiance-opposition disorder, technology addiction, lack of motivation relating to school, behavioral and conduct issues, as well as co-dependency and self-entitlement issues. In this sense, any at-risk behaviors previously exhibited or relied upon by the teen are no longer compatible with their surroundings. Generally, change in behavior and thinking can occur rather quickly as individuals learn to adapt and integrate themselves into their new surroundings.

    For many parents, these programs provided the added benefit of placing the teen in a safe, yet completely foreign context, thus forcing the teen to truly depend on themselves at times. Admittedly, these programs are accredited, staffed by traditional psychological professionals, and offer a number of traditional therapeutic programs staffed by professional clinicians, but generally, try to cater to those teens that are simply still not “getting it.

    Why Not Traditional Rehab or Inpatient Programs?

    Most teen at-risk behavior rarely meets the criteria for in-patient treatment long-term in a psychiatric sense. Moreover, traditional rehab facilities are oftentimes geared towards serious substance abuse in individuals that are definitively suffering from addiction or alcoholism. Although not always, most teen issues revolve around at-risk behaviors, which have caused some problems, but are reversible, if the teen learns to correct their behavior and thinking. This type of revolutionary change in the mind, body, and spirit of the patient is not always best facilitated by traditional in-house treatment options, which lack the isolation and reductionist approach favored by the teen wilderness camps. For teens, which despite perhaps a current lack of interest in outdoor activities, being active physically can be an essential component forcing the mental and emotional breakthroughs necessary to see their prior patterns of behavior in a different light.

    Give Yourself a Break, Too!

    More than most populations, teen at-risk behavior places significant strain on parents and siblings, and many cases stretches the coping capabilities of parents, while interfering with their own lives and the lives of their other children. Simply put: having an uncontrollable teen is exhausting and carries a significant burden on the entire family. Teen wilderness camps provide a period of reprieve for parents as well, in that with the teen removed from the home, parents can take the time to rebuild their lives as well. This break from the on-going problems with your son or daughter is not exactly easy, but given that the child is still under excellent clinical care, many parents find the time apart as essential for rehabbing their own lives, which have been detrimentally changed by their son or daughter’s behavior.


    Liemann Valdimar is a writer residing in Florida with over nine years of recovery. He has experienced the heavy hand of both alcohol and substance abuse and is grateful to be where he is today. As a sponsor in AA, he retains his anonymity by writing under a pen name.


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