When you're not sure what to do with your teenager for the summer because you're afraid he will get into trouble, summer camp may be the solution to your anxiety. Summer camps designed to help troubled youth can work with your teen to find out what lead him in the wrong direction and give him guidance on how to turn himself around.
Eight Camps for Troubled Youth
Many of these summer camps have all the components of regular ones, such as the fun outdoor and socialization activities. However, troubled teen camps have a staff of therapists and peer counselors that lead individual and group therapy to identify problems and work on ways to resolve them.
Aspen Achievement Academy
This wilderness program is located at various locations in North Carolina and Utah. It offers therapeutic programs for troubled teens ages 13 to 17, including:
- Individual and group counseling
- Counselors who have a Master's or Doctorate
- Wilderness or Individual programming
Admission and Details
Aspen also has a rolling admission and a flexible length of stay to cater to the needs of the at-risk youth. This program also emphasizes the involvement of family and has weekly family counseling sessions as well as parent education programs.
When enrolling your teen in this wilderness program, you won't have to worry about his safety because he will have medical staff onsite. Additionally, the organization provides clothing and all the equipment needed for activities.
The cost of the camp varies per camper, but they offer financial assistance and financing options, stating that payments can be as low as $400 per month. The total cost of the programs is listed as "From $6,700.00 to $63,000.00," but it is noted that some insurance companies will pay part of the cost.
For more information about this camp, call 1-888-972-7736 or visit the Aspen Education Group website to chat with an advisor online or send a message.
Outboard Bound has four programs for at risk youth: Intercept, FINS, STEP, and Delta Centers.
- The Intercept program received the Society for Adolescent Medicine's 2009 Hillary E.C. Millar for Innovative Approaches to Adolescent Health Care award. This program enrolls teens starting at age 12 and young adults to age 20. This program helps troubled teens who have strayed down the wrong path change direction through therapy, as well as focusing on developing and strengthening leadership and teamwork skills.
- The FINS program helps teens and their families learn the skills needed to keep teens from delinquency, academic failure, and substance abuse.
- The STEP program is for juvenile delinquents as an alternative to incarceration. They emphasize social responsibility, character development and academic achievement.
- Delta Centers are located in at-risk communities and help reduce the factors that lead teens to delinquency, high dropout rates, and substance abuse.
To enroll your teen into one of the programs, the website has a personalized course search that allows you to choose your teenager's age range, which activities he would like to participate in, such as:
- Desert Backpacking
- Rock Climbing
Also choose where you would like him to go:
Tuition rates are based on the length of the child's stay. Different programs are available on different dates, which are listed each year on the website. For example, a 28-day camp runs $6595 in tuition, while a 50-day camp costs $10,545.
Bald Eagle Boys Camp
Bald Eagle Boys Camp is a therapeutic wilderness camp for teen boys located in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania. It is located on 520 wooded acres. Facilities on the property include:
- Dining hall
- Staff housing
- Tent cabins for campers
This camp focuses on positive attitudes and learning important life skills. They come right out and state that they avoid the "reward/punishment" philosophy of other troubled youth camps. It is a Christian camp with Jesus at the center of all they do.
Bald Eagle Boys Camp has an interesting concept where the campers stay at a campsite. Each tent at the site has a specific purpose and the boys are required to do different tasks.
- Cooking tent
- Eating tent
- Sleeping tents
A price is not listed on the website and at the time of publication calls had not been returned, but information on this educational facility and costs can be obtained by contacting them at 1-570-748-4543.
Midcourse Correction is based in Otisville, Michigan and started out by serving Livingston County Juvenile Court system. Since then, the camp has expanded its reach and serves Eaton and Shiawassee County Juvenile Courts, a variety of youth "assistance programs", the local schools and takes private referrals. The camp takes kids ages 11 to 17 and will accept an 18 year old if that child is still in secondary school.
One of the unique aspects of this program is that it is a weekend program that runs for 46 hours. During that time, students will participate in:
- Adventure courses with both high and low ropes
- Teamwork initiatives
- Work projects
In addition, youth go to breakout sessions and seminars meant to teach them about the consequences of their decisions and respectful behavior.
Midcourse offers a program for children under 11 who show extreme unruly tendencies. The program is only for Friday and uses a "Scared Straight" approach. Children are shown what will become of them if they continue on the path they are currently on.
The cost to attend a weekend at Midcourse Correction is $425.00 per camper. The payment is required before a slot is reserved for the child. There are some limited financial assistance scenarios for those in need.
US Camp Victory
This military style camp is for boys ages 7 to 17 with severe behavioral issues. It is an extremely intensive military style camp that runs on a 46-hour weekend schedule. Camp Victory is located in St. Lucie, Florida. The camp offers three programs.
- The Wilderness Trek program is aimed at ages 12 to 17.
- Weekend Warrior is a 46-hour program for younger kids in the 7 to 11 year old range.
- Pathfinder Course Correction is a condensed, 24-hour camp for ages 7 to 14.
Be warned that this is an intensive military style camp. Your child will be forced to complete physical tasks and be put in extreme situations. Although parents seem pleased with this camp and we found no complaints at the time of publication, it is a good idea to team with a therapist to make sure your child can handle the stress a more intensive camp puts him under. That said, these camps can be very effective at showing troubled teens another path.
Goals of the Camp
The camp is a wilderness survival camp that helps boys learn:
- Survival skills (building shelter, finding food)
- Physical activities
The camp is set on 18,000 acres and is Bible based.
The cost to attend this camp varies, but if registering early, expect to pay between $1800 and $2000, depending upon your child's age range. If registering after the early registration deadline, which occurs in mid-May each year, the rates are between $2000 and $2400.
Fire Mountain Programs
Fire Mountain is aimed at teens from 12 to 17. The camp is licensed through the Colorado Department of Human Services (Division of Child Care) and is also monitored and administered by the same agency. It is located in Boulder, Colorado.
The camp helps teens with everything from behavior issues to substance abuse. For those with more severe issues, Fire Mountain also offers a residential treatment facility.
Fire Mountain has two different camps over the summer that would benefit troubled teens:
- Warrior Summer Camp is for both boys and girls. The focus is on developing strong minds and hearts, helping children accept themselves and helping teens set some goals for the future.
- Rite of Passage Camp is for boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17. The focus is on personal awareness, personal growth and a look at some of the issues teens face with drugs, alcohol, addictions, recklessness and rebellion.
Their summer camp program is called Warrior Summer Camp. It is for both boys and girls.
The camp runs from Tuesday to Friday. Register before May 15th for $650 and after May 15th for $750 per child.
Resolution Ranch is for teen boys aged 13 to 17. The ranch specializes in getting boys away from negative influences that have led to addictions.
It is located on 500 acres of Texas land and is 30 miles to the southeast of Temple, near the town of Cameron. It is a mid-point between Dallas, Austin and Houston.
The ranch uses a modified 12-step approach to overcoming addictions. The modified steps are aimed directly at what works for teens.
Unique, Therapeutic Approach
Resolution Ranch utilizes trained therapists to help your child overcome issues such as depression, addiction, or violence. When your child first arrives, the director will assess his needs and come up with a plan of action to help him.
The student must then progress through five stages called "R.A.N.C.H." to successfully complete the camp experience. While there, the child will work with animals and nature to learn more about himself and the world around him.
The ranch offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The child connects with a horse, cares for the horse and works through issues while learning to care for and ride the animal. This enhances emotional growth while at the camp.
The camp is set up on a rolling admission. Your child can arrive when he needs to and stay as long as necessary. Thus, the cost for a stay at Resolution Ranch can vary widely. Some insurance companies may cover part of the cost as well. For information on the process to assess the child and come up with a plan, contact the ranch at (254) 718-3364.
RedCliff Ascent is a wilderness therapy program for teens who are troubled. It is located in Southern Utah and helps teens between the ages of 13 and 17. They do offer a young adult program for troubled young adults 18 and up. This camp is unique because the trained clinical therapists use the outdoors as a tool to help teens become better.
The program is founded on the premise that no matter what the underlying problems are, there is a developmental stall in the stages the child goes through on the way to becoming an adult. They first focus on disrupting negative behavior patterns. Then, they introduce the child into the development level they should be at.
The camp is run on an open enrollment concept, with teens coming in as needed and staying as long as that individual teen needs to get on the right developmental path. The camp requires a minimum stay of 30 days and the rate is $485.00 per day, which includes everything from assessment to counseling to the wilderness therapy to food and care. Insurance does not usually cover the cost of this program, because it is considered outdoor therapy.
Concerns About the Troubled Teen Industry
According to the US Government Accountability Office, there are some concerns over programs for troubled youth. Allegations that have been brought to the attention of state agencies and the Department of Health and Human Services include claims of abuse and even death. However, this also includes residential treatment facilities for youth, so it's impossible to say how many incidents directly involved youth camps.
The camps above have been checked for any serious complaints and cross-checked for reputation. However, it is smart to do your own research before sending your child to one of these camps. Ownership changes, who the current camp counselors are and a variety of other factors can impact how a camp is run.
Always trust your gut. If you get an unsettled feeling about a camp or program, there are many others available where you can send your child instead. It is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to getting help for your troubled teen.
Sending Your Teen Away Can Help
While you may be hesitant to send your teen far away to summer camp, it may be beneficial to do so. When you remove a teen from his environment, you take him out of his comfort zone. This causes him to become uncomfortable and vulnerable, which forces him to come up with new coping skills. These coping skills will help him learn how to approach future challenges in a positive and effective way.