When parents make that decision to research sending a troubled teenager to a juvenile boot camp, it is important that the parents retain their sense of control and decision making about the process. Now, if the courts have ordered a teenager to go to a specific teen boot camp, the responsibility of parents is reduced.
But even in that situation, to look for ways to turn the experience into a positive one for the long term good of the youth is important. One good way to help your child get the most out of a juvenile boot camp experience is to be supportive and loving and to encourage the young person that he or she can succeed in the tough course they are about to take on and that you are proud of them.
What to Look For
It is not smart to simply sign your child up for the first teen boot camp you come across. Like any other kind of business, there is a lot of variety in how juvenile boot camps are run and how successful they are. Your teenager will live under harsh and demanding circumstances and in the care of boot camp trainers can have a powerful effect on your youngster for the better or for the worse. It is up to parents to make sure that the juvenile boot camp you select has a good reputation and that the camp is able to achieve your objectives for your son or daughter both philosophically and in actual execution of their program.
We make that distinction purposefully. It is easy for a juvenile boot camp to have a very well crafted and high minded statement of purpose. That mission statement may express the vision of the founders. But a mission statement like that is also written as a marketing tool to help convince parents that their juvenile boot camp will be the best choice for what you want for your teenager. It is one thing to write a lofty mission statement. It is quite another to be able to deliver that vision and live up to those lofty goals. The juvenile boot camp that you pay good money to help your troubled teenager must do both.
The process to verify that the juvenile boot camp you select will be the best choice for your child resembles how you might “check out” any business. Check how long they have been in business and look at the details of how they run their organization. How many staff people do they have and do they have a lot of turnover? If you can visit the camp and watch the training take place, take advantage of that opportunity. Above all look closely at the daily schedule of the kids that are in the juvenile boot camp with a focus on how much time is dedicated to physical training, group interaction and private counseling.
Every juvenile boot camp will have a different approach to their philosophy of helping kids turn their lives around. As parents, you have two objectives. One is to understand exactly what your teenager needs when he or she goes to a juvenile boot camp. The second priority lies in your own objectives in finding a juvenile boot camp you can trust with your child. Much of that will be intuitive based on that feeling of trust you build when you visit the boot camp.
But other factors may include their affiliation with your teenager’s school or your church, recommendations of friends or your child’s counselors and proximity to your home as well as costs. Use all of these factors and take your time in finding the perfect juvenile boot camp for your youngster. You will probably only make this decision once in your life so get it right the first time.
What to Expect
An ideal outcome of a teenager’s time in a juvenile boot camp is to come away from the experience with a new outlook on life and a renewed enthusiasm to work within the system to achieve lofty goals and dream big dreams. A juvenile boot camp will instill in successful graduates a new discipline and a higher value on physical fitness simply because the daily routine in a boot camp setting is aggressively physical and tremendously challenging.
Many times a troubled youth has difficulty with social situations and lives as a loner to wallow in those internal emotional struggles that he or she feels are private. In a juvenile boot camp, those inner wars are broken down through the intense boot camp experience. The weeks and months in a juvenile boot camp are often quite emotional and if they kids are allowed to call home, you may hear some desperate pleas to take them home. Unless the appeal reflects that the child is in danger, don’t give in. The boot camp is intentionally creating that feeling of desperation to guide your child to “rock bottom” so the youngster can find new self esteem in the activities that will go on during his or her time in the boot camp.
The changes you see in your youngster during his or her time in a juvenile boot camp should be long lasting. Most good juvenile boot camps conduct follow up interviews and meetings so the good changes that set in during the time in camp do not disappear when a teenager rejoins the “civilian” world.
Your son or daughter will also come out of a juvenile boot camp with strong friendships that were forged in the “trenches” as troubled youth learned to work together to succeed. These friendships can also provide a valuable support group for your teenager. And when you see an ambitious and changed teenager come home instead of the troubled, brooding and defiant one you sent to juvenile boot camp, you will be happy you took the risk and made the investment in the long term health of your child.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in:
What Kind of Kid Should Go to a Juvenile Boot Camp?