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Teen Boot Camps

Teen Boot Camps in the United States were initially an alternative to juvenile detention centers for non-violent youth offenders. In the 1980s and 90s, boot camps became a popular option for desperate parents of out of control teens. Boot camps use military-style, shock treatment, and behavior modification techniques that have been proven to cause more harm than good.

Residential Treatment with Therapy and Academics

 Residential Treatment Programs for Teens struggling with behavioral issues, emotional, mental health disorders, or substance abuse are proven to help troubled teens.  Look for a therapeutic model that provides a life-changing environment and relies on proven therapeutic elements like Wilderness Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and offers a certified and accredited academic program.

Find a Troubled Teen Therapeutic Program NOT a Teen Boot Camp

You will not find a "good boot camp for troubled teens." "Good" boot camps for teens do not exist today. Boot Camps for troubled teenagers have a poor reputation and were proven ineffective, which is why most were shut down. Teen boot camps cause more harm than good.

What your struggling teenager needs is an intensive therapeutic program designed to help teenagers struggling with behavioral issues. If your child ignores curfews, is angry, defiant, resentful, has terrible grades, or is failing school. If your son or daughter is obsessed with video games, social media, or technology, your child needs more than military-style discipline.

Medical conditions like ADHD, anxiety, or depression are mental health issues that impact a child's behavior. Getting to the root problem and helping your teenager learn how to control their behavior requires intensive therapy by professionals in a residential program or therapeutic school. We can help you narrow down your options and create a plan to help your child. Contact us today and see how we can help your family.
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Our Story: Troubled Teen Boot Camps

In 2003, we launched the original Teen Boot Camps website.  Our purpose was to help parents seeking information about boot camps for troubled teens. Our mission then and now is to help you understand the options available to you.

Many parents struggling with their teenager, start their Google search with “boot camps” related terms. But, what most parents today don’t know is that boot camps are not effective.

We want to provide you with the most accurate information about boot camp programs: what they are and how they work.  We also want you to provide you with valuable information on the most effective and proven therapies available today to help your troubled teen.  Learn more about us.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Teen Boot Camp? 

In the United States, Teen Boot Camps are an alternative to juvenile detention centers for non-violent youth offenders. The concept is based in military-style boot camps and uses tough and often dangerous tactics to “break” down teens using harsh physical and mental discipline.   These teen boot camps are not affiliated with the military or the government, most are independently operator.   Many boot camps have been closed due to abuse, neglect, and harm caused to participants.  Teenagers who attend teen boot camps often suffer from PTSD for years after.  To learn more about the effectiveness see the 10 Important Juvenile Boot Camp Statistics 

What is Teen Wilderness Programs? 

Wilderness programs for teens who are struggling with mental health disorders are a better alternative than juvenile boot camps.  Wilderness therapy offers intervention,  adventure-based therapy along with mental health strategies, and a supportive environment to help troubled teens to learn new skills and learn to manage their emotions.  

What does Teen Wilderness Programs Offer?

Wilderness Therapy Programs for teens offer interventions and various therapeutic options. These programs also remove teens from the negative environment offering them more opportunities for personal growth. 

What are the Benefits of Teen Wilderness Programs? 

Distraction-Free Environment, Outdoor Adventure Challenging Experience, and Clinically Proven Healing Techniques. 



What is the difference between a teen boot camp and a behavioral modification program? 

Some teen boot camps rebranded themselves as behavioral modification programs for troubled teens.  Yet, they still follow the same outdated practices: harsh discipline and neglectful tactics.  The staff does not have psychological or educational training.  There are no clinical personnel on staff and the “counselors” are not certified.  

Unlike behavioral modification programs and teen boot camps, therapeutic programs offer treatment for the whole child.  There’s a focus on the child’s emotional, mental, behavioral health, and academic life.  

What is a “Boot Camp for Troubled Teens” like?  

The typical day in a juvenile boot camp is busy with exercise and other physical challenges. Many of those challenges will call upon the teenagers in the camp to work together or they cannot make it through what they must do. 

Should parents send troubled teens to a boot camp?

Due to the military style, shock-treatment, and behavior modification techniques used by teen boot camp. Boot camps for troubled teens were proven to cause more harm than good.  While Teen Wilderness Programs are more effective and offers more proven therapeutic options. Wilderness programs also removes your troubled teen from their negative environment giving your child the opportunity for personal growth without familiar distractions. In short, wilderness programs are proven to be more effective than boot camps. 

Does My Teen Need Help?

As parents, many times we wonder whether our adolescent children are in need of help. We created an interactive quiz to help you identify if your teenager needs immediate intervention. To see if your troubled teenager is an out-of-control teen.  You can visit our Assessment Test Page.

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Do you believe your child needs help, does he or she need "a lesson" or "to get some discipline"?
Boot Camps for Troubled Teens Are Not the Answer.
We DO NOT endorse teen boot camps because they were proven ineffective and dangerous. Learn More!

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We understand this is a difficult time for you.   Sadly we do not know of any free programs.  

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