If you’re looking for a boot camp for your troubled teen, it might be natural to try and find one in your home state. However, it’s important to look at the school’s reputation and academic program as well as their behavioral management philosophy, instead. No matter where the school is, a boot camp boarding school will generally have a policy that prevents emotional disruptions by having specific visiting hours, and being in the same state won’t make a lick of difference. In fact, close proximity to other friends and family members might make it more difficult for your child. Imagine, knowing your parents are less than an hour and haven’t “rescued” you from what you perceive as an unfair situation.The fact is, change is difficult, and you’d be hard pressed to find a teen that jumped for joy and said “I’m going to boarding school, yippee!” Most teens are initially very upset by the decision, and it’s important to impress upon them that the decision isn’t based upon abandonment, but commitment. Teens will play upon parental emotions and accuse you of all sorts of horrible things. Most boot camps have counselors hat help the parents understand the predictable responses that teens can have.
Teens in turmoil have a habit of not taking responsibility for their own actions. Instead of feeling like they’re in control of their future, they often feel like they’re behaving defensively and that parents, teachers and law enforcement officers are “messing with” them or otherwise victimizing them. Being “shipped off” to boot camp won’t be immediately recognized as a decision to help them, they’ll think you’re trying to ruin their life. Surely, that’s no surprise.
Teen boot camps exist all over the country. The most successful ones allow teens to experience a natural environment, whether it’s the mountains and lakes or the plains. Being able to commune with nature, in an environment that’s far from home, helps kids make a fresh start. In another world, anything is possible. Knowing that they’re “on their own” and that they won’t be “rescued” empowers kids to make their own decisions, and to begin calling the shots in their own lives, instead of following their friends or simply “reacting” in a negative way at every turn. The opportunity to reinvent oneself is a blessing, at any age.
For parents, the ability to let go and allow their child to become their own person is very valuable. With a local boarding school, it’s too tempting to just “drive by” on occasion, and to fixate upon their well-being. When the weather is cold, you wonder if they’re wearing a jacket. When a storm comes, you wonder if the school has enough food in their storm shelter. A local boarding school doesn’t allow for some of the emotional growth that is necessary for a positive experience at boot camp. Instead, look for a superb academic program, one on one counseling, opportunities to participate in group projects, and to enjoy the natural world, regardless of where in the world that school happens to be.