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FEATURED WILDERNESS PROGRAMS

Outback Expeditions
Outback’s wilderness program for teens ages 13 to 17 blends the best of the “ancient cultural systems” with the most

Phoenix Outdoor
Phoenix Outdoor is a therapeutic wilderness program for teens ages 13 to 17 who are struggling with substance

Wilderness Programs & Summer Camps for Troubled Teens

Parents who are struggling with a pre adolescent or teen often find that change is difficult as long as the child remains in the home environment. Influences outside the home impact behavior, often more than the family does. Young adults struggling with substance abuse issues can also find the pressures and influences of their daily environment make it difficult to develop healthy coping skills. For this reason, residential programs can effect profound changes in troubled youth and young adults by removing them from the school and neighborhood and putting them in a healthy and controlled environment where they can focus on behavioral change. Outdoor education, also known as wilderness therapy, is a unique alternative to longer term residential schools and treatment programs. These programs have proven to be highly effective in dealing with issues such as oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD-related behavioral struggles, and substance abuse problems.
When parents and young adults begin to explore such treatment options, they often feel confused and overwhelmed. There are so many types of therapy and programs. How do you know which one is best for your adolescent? The most publicized programs tend to be boot camps. The highly structured boot camp environments emphasize stern discipline that will supposedly get your kid “back in line.” While a military school or boot camp might seem like a good idea if you are angry and fed up with your troubled teen, most likely this environment is far from truly therapeutic in nature. How often have you yelled at your child and not seen any result?

Why Wilderness?

The destructive power of nature is a staple on many television news broadcasts and Internet sites, with shaky videos of raging tornadoes or heartbreaking footage of a hurricane’s aftermath making for compelling viewing.

But professionals working in an innovative and effective branch of the adolescent therapy field have discovered that the awe-inspiring effects of the natural world aren’t limited to destruction and devastation. For decades, wilderness therapists and outdoor educators have been incorporating the healing and restorative powers of nature into programs designed to help troubled adolescents overcome personal challenges, regain control over their lives, and put themselves back on the path to health and happiness.

And though experts have yet to agree on exactly why the wilderness experience works so well, years of case histories and several studies have documented the dramatic effectiveness of properly managed and operated therapeutic wilderness education programs. As Dr. Keith C. Russell of the University of Idaho’s Wilderness Research Center wrote in a 2000 paper entitled “Why Wilderness Therapy Works,” the field has developed “a growing reputation for economy and therapeutic efficacy when compared with other mental health services.
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Why Nature is Therapeutic
There is a strong body of research confirming that direct contact with nature increases mental health and psychological and spiritual development.
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Should I Send My Daughter to a Wilderness Program?
Wilderness Programs are not just only for boys. Considering placing your daughter in a wilderness treatment program?
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Keeping a Troubled Teen at Home
For decades, wilderness therapists and outdoor educators have been incorporating the healing and restorative powers of nature into programs
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