Therapy programs can include individual and group counseling, education in such subjects as substance abuse, therapy covering problem solving, self esteem and life education and outdoor activities such as rope climbing, hiking and kayaking.
The word wilderness means the camp is located in an isolated region where solitude and freedom from distractions of the bright city lights is guaranteed. Participants get every opportunity to commune with nature, to energize their spirits and give their bodies a healthy workout. All these things form part of the total program.
There is a distinction regarding wilderness therapy. In some cases it means that the wilderness is the therapy, that being in the great outdoors is what gives the troubled teen a dose of reality. Then there is the actual therapy such as lectures, one on one counseling, etc but which happens to take place in a remote location – the wilderness.
It’s important every parent understands this distinction because your child could finish up in an excellent wilderness camp but the wrong one. If your child needs therapy regardless of location, make sure they are not going to a camp where the wilderness is the therapy.
One characteristic of any good wilderness program is measurement. The participants are graded before they begin then measured as the camp progresses. They are assessed in such fields as emotional growth, physical skills, leadership qualities, co-operation and teamwork skills, communication skills and self-awareness.
By camp’s end it is easy to see the pattern of growth achieved by each participant. Because assessment is an on-going thing, staff are able to address areas of weakness mid-stream thus shoring up the chances of each teen being a success.
Any worthwhile wilderness camp program will be created and run by licensed professionals. Registration by the appropriate State body is also a prerequisite. Any parent considering a camp should verify if all staff and the camp itself are recognized by the authorities.
One of the main benefits of a wilderness camp is its location. Being isolated and surrounded by the beauty of nature, the programs on offer build on this location. Teens find that the challenges provided by a remote location are the making of their character. Check that the programs take full advantage of the natural terrain, flora and fauna.
Camp programs should help remove anger and replace it with being assertive. Being in the wilderness provides the teen with a chance to reflect on their life. What have they achieved, has it been worthwhile and what can they do in the future? A good program will cater for the overall development of your troubled teen.
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