Fact Sheet Index

Therapeutic wilderness programs and boarding schools or residential treatment programs are much more effective in working with behaviorally and emotionally troubled teens than juvenile boot camps.

You are angry. You are sick and tired of your child’s attitude. You have screamed at them, taken away their privileges, grounded them, forced them to go to Boy Scouts or join a sports team. Nothing is working. Your anger grows with each passing day. Every time you pass their room and hear that music you think, “What am I going to do with this kid?” Often this anger inspires parents to find more effective punishments. Maybe you start to threaten the child with military school. Today, many parents find the idea of short-term alternative of military-style juvenile boot camps appealing. Before you send your child to a juvenile boot camp, ask yourself if this is truly the treatment your struggling teen needs.

The theory behind many boot camps is that if you scream enough at children and discipline them, they will “get in line.” Angry, defiant, oppositional teenagers may fall in line while in the intensely overwhelming, military-like environment of a boot camp, but in most cases these short-term “scream camps” do not create lasting changes in troubled teens. It is more likely this type of setting will create more hostility and resentment toward authority figures. When adolescents are struggling to find their place in the world, they need to learn how to act in the world. The world is not a boot camp. It is a tough place at times, and does require cooperation, kindness, reliability, and other positive behavioral qualities, but we hope the lesson your child learns is not, “The loudest and meanest wins!” Aren’t we essentially teaching children this when we send them to a military-style boot camp? Most troubled teens need structure, strong guidance, therapy, and the discovery of natural consequences of behavior. For this reason, if your adolescent is truly struggling with behavior, emotions, and academics, they need something that is more sophisticated and sensitive then a tough drill sergeant in his or her face.

Juvenile boot camps do not emphasize therapy. They do not deal with emotional issues that underlie many adolescent behavioral problems. They emphasize discipline and authoritarian control. They resemble jails more than therapeutic interventions. Although your anger might be so great that you think the kid just needs a good “kick in the pants,” juvenile boot camps rarely effect long-term, significant changes in troubled adolescents. The child may alter his or her behavior to avoid the threat of being sent back to such boot camps, this is not a true behavioral change and most likely will not create the kind of significant changes that are necessary for your child to lead a responsible, productive adult life.

Aspen Education Group has a number of programs that can help pre-adolescent and adolescent children who have self-defeating behaviors. These intensive programs can quickly narrow down the issues your child is experiencing to help him or her on a positive life path. They are a therapeutic and effective alternative to juvenile boot camps.

SUWS of the Carolinas is a therapeutic camping program that uses the outdoors as an alternative to conventional treatment environments. This unique clinical treatment approach has proven to be highly effective in helping students identify their limiting emotional beliefs and destructive behavioral habits. Talk to a program representative for more information.

Turnabout Ranch offers a residential program utilizing the benefits of a ranch environment to help struggling youths achieve needed changes in their lives. It is a short-term, high-impact therapy program that emphasizes family values and relationships utilizing a phased approach. Counselors are with students 24 hours a day and are able to address negative behavior immediately. Talk to a program representative for more information.

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions is a character development program that promotes personal growth through a focus on insight-oriented experiences. The forested, mountain setting removes urban distractions and simplifies options to help students gain insight into their core values and accept responsibility for their choices. Our program’s nurturing approach helps participants address personal issues, achieve success in a safe environment, and develop their leadership potential. Talk to a program representative for more information.

Our Assessment Test can help you determine if a residential program might be best for your particular child.