Boot Camps for Troubled Teens

Doing Push-Ups

Boot camp programs are designed to help teens who are experiencing behavioral trouble in school or at home. These camps typically emphasize military-style tasks and training to correct behavioral problems. There aren't a lot of true 'boot camp' options remaining, because the majority of residential programs for troubled teens have expanded to focus on long-term therapeutic solutions.

Hoosier Youth ChalleNGe Academy

The Hoosier Youth ChalleNGE Academy is operated by the Indiana National Guard. It is a 17½ month quasi-military training academy for high-school age students in Indiana who have dropped out or been expelled from school. The program is designed to help "instill confidence, foster ambition and increase employment opportunities" for at-risk youth.

The program includes a 5½ months residential phase and a 12-month post-residential phase. Teens are assisted in the development of life and academic skills. Those who qualify can attain a Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC).

Admission and Details

The program is open to Indiana teens between the ages of 16 and 18 who are not currently attending school. They must register voluntarily and not have a job. They also cannot have any pending court cases, felony convictions or use drugs.

Costs

This program is free to participants and parents who are residents of Indiana. For more information about this camp, call 1-866-477-0156.

Camp Victory

Camp Victory is a military-style camp is for boys ages 8 to 17 who lack confidence or are experiencing behavioral issues. It is an extremely intensive military style camp that runs on a 46-hour weekend schedule. It is located in St. Lucie, Florida.

This is an intensive camp during which campers are required to complete physical tasks in extreme situations. Although parents seem pleased with this camp, it is a good idea to team with a therapist to make sure your child can handle the stress of an intensive camp.

Campers learn skills such as:

  • Wilderness skills for food procurement and preparation in a primitive setting
  • Identifying and building good outdoor shelters
  • Constructing and building fires
  • Personal and field hygiene
  • Identification and awareness of various plants and animals

Cost

The cost to attend this camp varies, but if registering early, expect to pay between $2,000 and $2,500, depending upon your child's age, for a 3-week session. There were no camps scheduled for the years 2016-2017, but you can enroll and get more information about future camps by calling 1-877-502-5832.

Midcourse Correction

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. It now serves Eaton and Shiawassee County Juvenile Courts, a variety of youth 'assistance programs,' the local schools and takes private referrals. The camp takes kids from 11 to 17 years of age, and will also accept an 18-year-old 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:

  • Calisthenics
  • Adventure courses with both high and low ropes
  • Marching
  • 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.

Level Ground

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, which gives the child an idea of what could become of them if they continue on the path they are currently on.

Cost

The cost to attend a weekend at Midcourse Correction is $425.00 per camper. Payment is required before a slot is reserved for the child. There are some limited financial assistance scenarios for those in need.

Local Options

There may be other options in your state or region. If your child is currently in school, consider asking your child's guidance counselor for recommendations. You can also call the Family & Youth Services Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or your state's to ask for suggestions of where to turn in or near your local area. While HHS doesn't offer direct services, they may be able to direct you to resources that can be of assistance.

Boot Camp Concerns

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, there are some serious concerns over boot camp programs and other residential treatment options for troubled youth. This is why true boot camp programs are less common now than in the past. Allegations that have been brought to the attention of state agencies and HHS include claims of abuse and even death.

Options and Professional Advice

If you aren't sure whether or not a boot camp will help your teen, you might consider alternatives such as wilderness therapeutic programs and Christian retreats, which are also designed to help troubled teens and children. Do your own research and consult with medical and/or mental health professionals before sending your child to one of these camps, or any kind of treatment program. It is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to getting help for your troubled teen.

Boot Camps for Troubled Teens