What Is Life Like in a Wilderness Camp?

Tough but fair, caring but challenging would be two ways to describe life in a wilderness camp. They are not boot camps with a military style of discipline and they are not long-term boarding schools with a great deal of attention paid to the academic side of life. A good description is that a wilderness camp is a summer camp with therapy.

The average period a troubled teen stays at a wilderness camp is 8 to 10 weeks. The wilderness experience is longer than a summer camp but not as long as a boarding school which can be a year or longer in duration.

Parents with worries about the safety of their teen while in camp can be assured that wilderness camps do not accept everyone. They do not accept teens who are in serious trouble with the law or who have a record of self-harm, etc. The aim is to find like-minded teens who need direction and inspiration in their life. And the academic side of a wilderness camp is in most cases able to be transferred back to the teen’s school as credit.

The mix of therapy and outdoor activities is the staple of most wilderness camps. A great deal of work goes into assessing the teen before they arrive. The aim is to discover their needs and weaknesses and so be able to address these problems in therapy sessions.

These sessions are one on one with the therapist usually on a daily basis and then group therapy sessions are conducted regularly as well. But then the outdoor education component kicks in. This can involve hiking, camping, kayaking, climbing and handling animals such as horses. Each camp varies but generally the great outdoors becomes a focal point of the camp.

In fact it can be said that the wilderness itself is a form of therapy for the teens particularly for those who come from an urban environment.

The wilderness camp is not a holiday camp. The teens learn the skills necessary to survive in the outback. They go on an extended hike which can be up to a fortnight in duration. They learn to make their own fire and cook their own food. It’s often a life-changing experience. Many teens who are in a rut and depressed turn their life around and discover new inner strengths.

Most wilderness camps require your teen to bring almost nothing bar the essentials. If your child is on medication then that of course must be brought with them but all these matters are explained before your child moves to the camp.

It’s easy to see why wilderness camps have grown in popularity over the years. The setting is magnificent, the balance between work and play seems almost perfect and the success stories from those who have attended continue to surprise and delight parents and the teens.
It’s easy to discover what goes on at a wilderness camp by visiting their web site. Most sites contain photos and testimonials. Some even have video clips and the camps themselves are only too happy to explain their operation.

Here are additional resources you might be interested in:

Information on Wilderness Camps

The benefits of Wilderness Camps