How Can a Wilderness Program Help With an ADD/ADHD Teen?

For parents of teens with ADD/ADHD, the approaching summer break can be something that causes concern. Teens with this condition who are stuck at home with not much to do while their parents work often get into trouble. Many teens that have to deal with ADHD get into drugs, alcoholism, experiment with sex, get involved with the wrong crowd and gangs, and engage in dangerous activities. Teens who are more inclined to stay home focus too much on video games, which has a detrimental effect as well. Parents who have children that had spent too much time on video games find that these teens become addicted to gaming, have shorter attention span on other things, have more trouble socializing with other people, and more.

For parents looking for an alternative that works, enrolling teens into a specialized wilderness program might help.

How can it help?

Nature and physical activity has always been proven to help calm down people with ADD/ADHD. It’s a safer, more natural way to “take the edge off” so to speak; something that teens with ADD/ADHD are looking for when they turn to drugs, alcohol, or risky behavior. The great thing about therapeutic wilderness programs for ADD/ADHD teens is that they take this idyllic backdrop together with activities specially designed to help teens face their challenges.

For example, one of the most prevalent issues that ADD/ADHD teens have is dealing with poor social skills. They’re often impulsive, insensitive to unwritten social rules, or are too shy to reach out to kids their age. Therapeutic wilderness programs aim to have teens participate in physical activities that will help nurture them and foster camaraderie between campers. Even casual interaction on camp grounds are geared towards teaching teens this very important tool in life. Camp counselors are always on the lookout for ways to break the ice and encourage interaction, especially since these teens are less likely to push themselves to do it without help.

Wilderness programs also aim to help teens develop a more positive relationship with their family. Parents are encouraged to learn more about their children’s condition and how they can foster a more nurturing home life.

Can wilderness skills be beneficial for ADHD teens?

Some people are skeptical about how learning how to make fire without matches will make ADD/ADHD teens will help with their development. On one hand, it’s a useful survival tool that may come in handy someday. On the other hand, it’s a physical activity that promotes setting achievable goals in a nurturing environment. This positive kind of goal-setting may be fun in a wilderness camp setting, but the values it instills in the minds of ADD/ADHD teens is something that they can take with them even after they’re done with wilderness programs.

Many wilderness activities teaches campers how to be responsible for themselves. They are given chores and their own areas to maintain. More teens learn how to take ownership of themselves by learning the value of being responsible in wilderness camp. Hiking, camping, and other group activities teach teens how to cooperate and participate in a team. This may be something that they can conveniently avoid in school by staying in the background or simply tuning out their teachers and classmates. Water rafting, for example, teaches campers how to communicate well with each other if they all want to reach a common destination.

Even non-physical activities can be helpful for ADD/ADHD teens. They can do arts and crafts, play music, tell stories, and the likes. All geared towards making the teens feel they are in a safe environment where they will be accepted and where they will not be judged.

Wilderness camps not only teach skills and help campers spend the summer break productively. They also contribute to helping ADD/ADHD teens develop the necessary tools to help them become more participative and communicative when school starts again. Teens who regularly go to wilderness camp can also adjust better to the demands of college life.