A wilderness camp or any type of camp for that matter needs to be well chosen. Your teen may be in a delicate state. If they are in trouble they obviously need help. But the wrong type of camp could fail to completely turn around your teen’s behavior. There’s your child’s health at stake here not to mention quite a tidy sum of money. Choose the right type of wilderness camp for your troubled teen.
This sounds like hard work and usually is. You need to research the various possible wilderness camps. Some have more emphasis on academic work than others. Is that important for your teen at this time in their life? Is your teen quite bright but facing problem with drugs or alcohol? In that situation you would be better off with a challenging outdoor adventure camp with appropriate therapy knowing your bright teen should have little trouble in catching up academically?
But it’s not enough checking out various programs online or by telephone. You really do need to make a visit in person. Meet the staff, ask questions based on the needs of your teen and see what sorts of people are running the programs. If you live a fair way away or lack transport, you could ask for a video of the facilities and for contact details of any parents who have written referrals about how their teen reacted after a stay at the camp.
Honesty is arguably the best trait in all forms of therapy and that follows when you are informing the staff about your teen. They must know what is wrong with your child and why you think he or she is in need of a wilderness camp experience. The staff wants to be able to help but they must be well informed. You want your teen to be honest with you so you must be honest with the staff at the camp. Is there an eating disorder? Has your teen ever carried out any threats of self-harm? You are the best person to tell it like it is so please do exactly that.
Hard data is important. You need to know such things as the qualifications of the staff particularly the therapists. Where did they do their training, how experienced are they and how long have they worked in the field of therapy which is relevant to your child?
Then there is the history of the camp itself. How long has it been in operation? When was it last inspected by state authorities? Have there been any incidents or trouble at the camp requiring outside medical assistance? What are the medical facilities on site?
Finally check out the financial situation. What are the fees being charged, how easy is it to get to and from the camp and does your insurance cover pay some or all of the costs at this particular facility?
It sounds like a lot of work which falls on your shoulders and it is. But you may have some luck in the form of a trusted friend or colleague who can give a personal recommendation. But whatever the case, finding the right wilderness program for your troubled teen is an absolute top priority.
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