Wilderness camp for troubled teens - Drug rehab programs
There are many wilderness camp drug rehab programs and they feature participation in rugged outdoor activities designed as metaphors for everyday living.
A key emphasis in wilderness training approaches is the stress on cooperation among the participants in order to accomplish some difficult task (EG: building a makeshift bridge over a turbulent river tributary or gathering firewood to protect against the cold) which must be completed for the comfort and safety of the group.
These programs concentrate on building self esteem and confidence as well as group affiliation and respect for authority. There are also opportunities to experiment with leadership roles.
The length of the wilderness camp experience is variable and it may last anywhere from a few days to as long as several months. They are staffed by well trained and heavily experienced individuals both in outdoor survival skills and behavioral management of troubled teenagers.
The programs are most often conducted in wilderness areas remote from accessible towns and cities in order to build awareness of the skills necessary to survive in relative comfort under often trying weather and topographical conditions.
Regular referrals to these programs are made by juvenile justice systems, social service programs, mental health departments, residential and substance abuse treatment facilities, private and public school systems and individual practitioners.
An especially attractive feature of wilderness training programs is that they eliminate exposure to those stimuli most often associated with repeated relapse into substance abuse. There are no negative friends, disturbed family members, easily accessible drug dealers and liquor stores and no television programs featuring drug and alcohol related content. Thus all attention is focused on the needs and tasks of the moment in order to ensure survival and comfort via intense individual and cooperative group effort.
Depending upon the quality, duration and intensity of the wilderness experience the teenager often emerges with a renewed sense of self respect and independence as well as a resolve not to relapse into self destructive substance abuse involvement.
Initial impressions of the effectiveness of these programs are that they result in significant behavioral changes at least in the short term. Repeated experience in wilderness training programs is probably necessary in order to consolidate observed short term gains.