Wilderness therapy camps and programs are designed for troubled teens who are out of control and unreachable. Parents placing their troubled boy or troubled girl into a Wilderness therapy program is asking, “what in the heck has gone wrong with my child.”
Somehow the wheels have suddenly come off and my once bright and happy child has become a monster. Parents placing their troubled teen into a wilderness program has no idea what is going on, but they are determined to find out and get their child the specialized therapeutic help they need.
Wilderness Therapy Programs are utilized by Educational Consultants. Some Educational Consultants won’t work with a family to place a child in a therapeutic boarding school until the have first been assessed through a wilderness program. Wilderness therapy is not a fix-all, where kids go to get turned around and placed back on track.
The widlerness program is designed to “get to the bottom of things” so we know what to do next. These camps are out in the wilderness where there is no distractions. Just a few kids, a couple of camp counselors, and a therapist. Once the child is out in the wilderness they seem to “get real”. They begin to open up and devulge information that they would not normally share.
Its the wilderness environment and their dependence on trust staff counselors that gets them to the place where they are willing to “share all”. The camp counselors are the lifeline for the campers. The counselors are mentors, life coaches, and survival experts. The counselors teach the campers how to stay dry, warm (or cool), and how to keep safe in an hostile environment. The campers become utterly dependent on the counselors and a deep level of trust is built.
The campers are required to hike everyday, carry their own packs loaded with water, food, sleeping bag and tent. The campers learn to start their own camp fires (without matches) and cook their own hot meals. Once that trust is built the campers open up and share their guts. The counselors pass this information along to the therapists, who then meet with the camper at least once a week for a therapy session. This is where the real work is done. The drawback to wilderness programs is obvious.
There’s lots of physical danger. Kids can be seriously hurt in wilderness, and even die. The wilderness is ungiving, untamed, and unforgiving. The troubled teen cannot con his/her way in the wilderness. Their street smarts don’t impress the wilderness. Its is as real as it gets. Once the wilderness experience is over (6 weeks to 90 days) the Educational Consultant will take the assessment and diagnosis from the wilderness therapist and start looking for the ideal boarding school placement, which is the second and most important phase of restoration.