Boot Camps vs. Wilderness Therapy: Which is Right for Your Child

Boot camps and wilderness therapy differ drastically, not only in their methods, but in the way each perceives the individuals they welcome into their programs. Boot camp for teenagers is designed to force discipline and should be approached with discretion, perhaps even as a last resort. Wilderness therapy is intended to inspire self-reflection, according to Wood Creek Academy.

Boot camps tend to show improvements in behavior and attitude, however many of the results are short-term, and programs do not promise lasting results. Part of the reason young offenders are sent to these camps is to reduce the cost of maintaining state prison and correctional facilities. As parents, you should closely examine the strategic methods of prospective camps, since reports show a general lack of operational standard among them. Although the focus of juvenile boot camp lifestyle is aimed at increasing discipline rather than integration back into society, overall results have shown improvements where prisons and detention centers have failed.

One major difference between wilderness therapy and other rehabilitation programs is their focus on social interaction, similar to an all boys boarding school. These environments place emphasis on healing and making good choices over obedience. They are driven by the belief that people began to show improvement once they are removed from negative environments. Similar to boot camps they strive to reduce idle behavior, but favor education over rigorous conditioning. Studies conducted by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council show the program to be less successful for violent and younger students than those with drug addictions and behavioral problems.