The answer is “it depends”. What you as a parent need to understand are two things; (a) what is wrong with your troubled teen and (b) what is the purpose of the different programs on offer.
A teen boot camp is more of a punishment center, a venue where discipline is strict and residents don’t get to ask how high when told to jump.
Therapy in a wilderness center is designed to explore the problems endured by the teen and work at removing the hurt and other obstacles which have made them the way they are.
So if your teen needs a metaphorical boot up the backside and a short sharp jolt to bring them back to the real world, a boot camp may be ideal. But if your teen has a negative attitude to life, is possibly depressed and needs professional therapy, then a wilderness camp seems ideal.
Here is a breakdown of what each facility has to offer.
A boot camp operates with a military style structure and promotes the following characteristics: fear of authority, being told what to do, being required to obey all commands, not being given the chance to speak, possibly becoming resentful and being given strict rules and structures in which to exist.
A wilderness facility is located in a picturesque part of the country, far from the madding crowd and promotes the following characteristics: respect of authority, learning to co-operate, taking responsibility for your own actions, becoming self-disciplined and having your self-esteem and self-confidence boosted.
It’s obvious the two programs are vastly different. But it’s a horses for courses situation. It all gets back to what is wrong with your troubled teen. Mind you making the wrong choice could be disastrous. In fact your troubled teen could return from the wrong program even more troubled than when they left for the camp. Choose wisely and correctly.
If your teen attends a boot camp they are likely to become relatively fit and learn how to carry heavy objects from point A to point B. This might be just what is required. They may have become lazy and their school grades are falling. They may think it’s cool to hang around with people who are on the fringes of crime and lack moral strength and goals. Boot camp seems a good choice.
If your teen is depressed, spending long hours alone in their bedroom or the bathroom, there may well be an underlying cause. It could be a poor body image and a low self-esteem. They may have lost confidence and even be in danger of self-harm. What they may well need is time away from home, a life in the glorious outdoors, a challenge to do new and worthwhile things and to discuss their problems with trained professionals. A wilderness therapy program does seem an ideal choice.
As was mentioned at the beginning, the right choice is vital As the parent of a troubled teen, you owe it to your child and to yourself to examine the possibilities and make the right choice.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in:
Do Boot Camps for Teens Really Work?