If you've just heard that you are on your way to a wilderness camp or you're a parent who wonders if the wilderness camp experience will change your troubled teen's direction, meet Dillon. Dillon is a graduate of a wilderness camp, and LoveToKnow had the chance to hear about his struggles and triumphs and how he changed his life for the better.
Dillon's Road to Wilderness Camp
LoveToKnow (LTK): What made you go to a wilderness camp?
Dillon (D): I was on probation for doing drugs at school. I was on probation and went to DT. Every time I got out I messed up again. I was doing drugs, so I got into trouble with probation, and then I ran away. They put me into the wilderness camp.
LTK: What were some of your thoughts before entering the treatment at the wilderness camp?
D: 45 days is going to take forever. I hope I pass the program and am not locked up again after this. I didn't really want to cut my hair. I liked my hair long. If I didn't cut my hair, I would fail the program and get locked up in DT, so I let them shave my head.
About Dillon's Wilderness Camp Experience
LTK: What was a normal day like at the camp?
D: Wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, put on overalls and a cowboy hat and boots. We wore a uniform under overalls. We would go to breakfast, stand in line, and say our goals of the day and the ten cowboy ethics. The ones I remember are:
- Know where to draw the line.
- Always finish what you start.
- Be tough, but fair.
We fed horses, cows, chickens and lamas hay and gave them water to drink. We milked cows and shoveled cow poop. Sometimes during free time we were able to ride horses. We had group therapy at night.
LTK: What surprised you the most about the wilderness camp?
D: How much we had to hike on the trek. How much I could handle that I didn't think I could handle. I felt really good about myself afterwards.
LTK: What are some other experiences you would like to share?
D: Sleeping in caves, drinking from rivers, and being out in nature gave me a lot of alone time think about things. Group therapy helped me learn about people and teamwork. It was spiritual, and many of the boys ended up in tears.
Support from Staff and Family
LTK: Who did you find to be the most supportive to you?
D: My guide because he helped with all my questions and assignments.
LTK: How was your family involved in your treatment?
D: My mom and grandpa went up to visit me a couple times. We had family therapy so I could get along with them better. We would talk stuff out and work stuff out that we were going through.
LTK: Did you make friends with anyone at the wilderness camp? Do you keep in touch with them now?
D: Yeah, sometimes I stay in touch on the Internet. There is one person I still talk to about once a week.
Reflections on the Experience
LTK: What were some of the most important lessons you learned at the wilderness camp?
D: I learned to be a hard worker. I also learned how to deal with things better without doing drugs. I realized how I hurt people.
LTK: Do you believe that the experience has positively affected your life?
D: I remember what I learned. Sometimes I wish I could go back and do it over again.
LTK: What do you think would have happened if you weren't court ordered to the wilderness camp?
D: I probably would have kept partying and stayed on drugs.
Tips for Troubled Teens
LTK: Do you have any tips for teens who are about to attend a wilderness camp?
D: It may seem like it's hard. You might not want to do it and follow the rules, but it's worth it. You will find that it's fun after awhile. It's good to be away from druggy friends.
LTK: What are some tips for teens who are not going into a wilderness camp but may be headed in that direction.
D: I want to say that a life of partying and all that isn't worth it. It may seem fine now, but it's not in the end. You'll lose friends, become homeless, and drop out of school because of drugs. Most of the time you will have medical issues because of your dependence on the drugs. Drugs will affect your memory, and you'll be haunted by bad memories. Drugs also affect your sleep by giving you nightmares.
A Gracious Thank You
LoveToKnow Teens would like to thank Dillon for taking the time to share his experience and wishes him the best in his future.