What is a Boot Camp for Troubled Teens?

A boot camp for troubled teens is normally thought of as camp-type setting with a strict, regimented, militaristic style of discipline and “tough-love” approach. Visions of barracks, drill sergeants, group exercises and exhausting wilderness hikes often come to mind. These places exist and appeal to parents who are seeking a quick-fix or want their children to appreciate what they have at home or want to use the program as a disciplinary measure.

What are the Benefits of a Boot Camp for Troubled Teens?

A boot camp for troubled teens, operated according to approved and best practice standards may benefit participants in several ways. Benefits may include, an increased level of fitness, detoxification from harmful substances, an increased sense of self worth, and upon program completion, the intent by a young person to do well once back in the family home. Boot camps can be a catalyst for change but usually do not provide a long-term solution.

What is the Downfall of a Boot Camp for Troubled Teens?

The problem with a boot camp is that participants are provided with therapeutic interventions that may be effective in the wilderness or isolated environment in which the program is run but have virtually no transferability or long-term impact once the youth has left the program. As one excited wilderness program leader explained “one of our students demonstrated his problem solving skills by making a toilet seat out of twigs and branches”. What the instructor failed to mention was that this learned skill had little use for the student once he was back in his regular home and school environment. The supposed problem solving skills are not relevant to the young person’s life once out of the program.

Boot camps for troubled teens or military schools for troubled teens are set in an isolated or artificial environment, which is not conducive for skill transference.

Many youths do well in these types of programs and that they should. There’s no access to drugs, pressures of a public school environment or freedom to make independent choices. The days are usually programmed from sunrise to sunset. But what happens when it’s time to go home to the “real world”? Well-intentioned youth and hopeful parents may experience a crash more sudden than the factors which contributed to the placement at the boot camp in the first place.

Does Venture Academy Provide a Boot Camp for Troubled Teens?

Venture Academy receives many inquiries from parents looking for a boot camp – a quick fix to troubles that have been emerging either recently or over a long period of time. Although Venture Academy does provide therapeutic wilderness excursions as a small pert of the programming, the organization does not provide a boot camp. Venture Academy implements residential treatment programs as an effective alternative to boot camp for troubled teens in Canada or boarding schools for troubled teens in Canada.

Disclaimer: For the purpose of the these questions and answers provided above, the term “boot camp” for troubled teens is used as loose terminology for “wilderness treatment” for troubled teens or “military school” for troubled teens. Various programs for troubled teens may or may not classify themselves as boot camps.