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types of camps for troubled teens

Troubled teens can need a lot of help as they navigate their own mental and emotional boundaries on the path to wellness. Sometimes these needs can be met through family therapy, school counseling, or religious help. Other times, some more intense external help is necessary. Here are some of the options available to help your troubled teen.

Wilderness Camps 

These are short-term therapeutic camps that can run for a few weeks to a few months. They aim to immerse teens in a more natural setting performing a lot of outdoors-related activities such as camping and hiking. Exercise to get out extra energy couples with mental health professionals to direct teens’ emotional and physical energy into constructive habits. One example is Trails Carolina where students are able to spend a lot of time developing new outdoor skills and work on both therapy and school work in a wilderness setting.

Wilderness camps are short-term therapeutic programs.  Over the course of a few weeks to a few months, teens are immersed in outdoor activities including camping and hiking.   These activities are guided by licensed mental health professionals who give teens the skills to direct their emotional and physical energy into healthier and more constructive habits.  Trails Carolina is a leading Wilderness Therapy program that combines new wilderness skills with therapeutic growth and an opportunity to earn academic credits while in a wilderness setting.

Behavior Boot Camps

These kinds of camps take more of a military-based approach to the correction of teens’ behaviors. They implement strict schedules and regimens for teens and often maintain harsh punitive measures to try and ensure compliance and internalization of standard operating procedures. These types of programs have been around the longest and often get the worst press for how strict they are.  

Behavior boot camps take a military-based approach to correcting teen behavior.  These camps often look for compliance through punishing teens for problematic behaviors.  Due to the strict and punitive approach to troubled teens, these camps tend to receive negative press.  More therapeutic programs have evolved from behavioral boot camps to address the underlying issues of “bad behavior” more effectively.

Residential Treatment Centers

These allow teens to live there for longer periods of time such as several months to even a year or longer. They focus more on treatment in controlled settings while giving teens the opportunity to work, take classes, and socialize while still living in a safe environment. This allows them to minimize external disruptive influences and give the parents the opportunity to collect themselves and regroup.

Residential Treatment Centers tend to be longer-term programs, lasting anywhere from several months to more than a year.  Treatment happens in a controlled setting where teens can work, attend school, and socialize in a supervised environment.  This supervision minimizes external disruptive influences and gives parents the opportunity to build new skills alongside their teens.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools

These have more of an emphasis on the school side of helping kids. Think of them as a school with enhanced therapy and mental health resources. They place a large emphasis on re-socializing the teens so that with strict schedules and controls to the outside world, they can relearn proper behavior under special guidance.

Therapeutic Boarding Schools emphasize meeting teens’ academic needs alongside their therapeutic needs. These schools offer enhanced mental health resources in comparison to traditional boarding schools.  Teens are provided an opportunity to learn social skills and participate in therapy while attending school.

Not all programs are created equally and most of them offer unique benefits and drawbacks based on what is available. Depending on the nature of the issues with your teen, we recommend discussing with a mental health professional before making a big decision. 

Let Us Help. Contact one of our staff to discuss options that might be suitable for your individual situation.