Wilderness camps are brilliant. Troubled teens who attend such a camp go home refreshed, revitalized and changed. But like so many things in life, it’s the follow-up which is vitally important. It’s a waste of time and money if a teen does well at a camp and then returns home to an unhealthy environment or one which makes it easy for the teen to fall back into their old ways.
Most wilderness camps for troubled teens run for 30 to 60 days. And because every teen is different, some are ready to go home sooner than others. That’s where the communication between the parents and the camp officials is so important. No matter how much the parents may be missing their son or daughter, it might be in everyone’s interests, and particularly so for the teen, to extend their stay at the camp.
It depends on the seriousness of their problem, on their willingness to get back on track, on the amount and type of therapy on offer and other things as well. The basic rule is if the teen needs more time in camp, give it to them.
But then comes the return to home. And this is where the parents have to have been in training almost as much as their child. Things have to change. We now know the problem or problems faced by the teen. We need to make sure the home environment is perfect for the troubled but now changed teen to come home to. Are the parents in the best position to guide their child through the first days back at home? Are they able to prevent the mistakes made by their child when they got into trouble? It all needs careful preparation.
If the parents are not united on how the teen will be treated when they come home, then the good work may go to waste. If the parents are hoping that the time in the wilderness camp is all that is needed then the teen is facing a dicey future. The parents need almost as much training as their child.
All this is helped and developed by the parents communicating with the wilderness camp. What rules will now be put in place? How will we handle our child when he or she comes home? It’s the follow-up procedures and the degree of commitment from the parents and the troubled teen which will determine the success or otherwise of the entire venture.
If they haven’t done so before then the whole family will need to meet and have a heart to heart on what needs to be done from here on out. Be united, have specific rules, let love dominate and everyone should benefit.
It may have taken a great deal of research and planning to get your child into a wilderness camp. And it may take almost as much to have them re-enter the home. What about their schooling? The same school? At what level? And will the family make use of community resources to help their child settle back into family life. There is a lot to think about but never forget that the follow-up actions and attitudes are hugely important to make your troubled teen truly benefit from their stay in camp.
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