Wilderness Programs For Troubled Teens
Wilderness programs are usually short term.
They seem to have a definite impact on the teen. Typically the teen while
in the program sincerely feels the need to change and may even admit that
he or she needs to change their behaviors.
In most cases education consultants will recommend a wilderness to prepare
a teen for a long term placement. Usually the wilderness placement alone
is not long enough to make lasting changes in the teens life.
Again short term is a great place to start but usually needs to be followed
up by something longer in length. Some programs include a wilderness component
into their regular program. Some have more rustic type living for teens
that first come into a program, and then with appropriate choices they
move into nicer living conditions.
Wilderness programs are usually not academically accredited, because of
their short duration. There are usually some credits available that would
correspond to time in spent out in nature, but it is not a given that
they will be accepted. For this reason timing is an important factor involved
with this type of placement. If you are taking a teen out of school and
sending them to a Wilderness Program, they will fall further behind in
school. In most cases the teen is not applying themselves in school anyway
so this is not a huge factor. But in the case where the teen is still
doing well in school, this should be taken into consideration.
If academics are still important to them and you put them in an impossible
to catch up situation, you will have to deal with other issues. They can
include lowering of self esteem for being held back or just failing classes,
and the teen having to explain where they have been upon their return
While some teens will find it cool to having been taken away for a while,
there are others that will be embarrassed for having to explain their
absence. Other considerations of Wilderness Programs are the elements
themselves, and the ability of teens to run away. While the majority of
programs have things well planned out there have been cases where teens
have been able to overpower staff, and run from their camping spot. This
is less likely to happen in a set location. The elements of course there
is now way to plan on how they will cooperate.
There is always the danger of extreme weather conditions, and the problems
encompassed therein. On the other hand Wilderness Programs have had a
place in overall plan for years, and there are definite benefits from
having a teen get back to basics in this way.
As you know there is something to be said about being out in nature. There
is a tendency in this setting to have more quiet time to reflect on what
is really important, and what course they are on. Quiet time around the
campfire at night is almost a spiritual experience and a great time for
teaching a tired youth.
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