Wilderness Programs for Troubled Youth

Parents sometimes find themselves at their wits’ end when dealing with a difficult teenager. When families are in crisis because of a teen’s problematic behavior, a major intervention is necessary.

Wilderness programs for troubled teens provide a safe place for your teen to receive treatment while you and your family recover. Although parents sometimes feel guilty for sending their teens away, it’s often the best solution for everyone in the family.

Know When It’s Time for Help

Raising a typical teenager is difficult enough. Dealing with a troubled teen is a nightmare. If any of these scenarios sound like your family, it’s time to investigate wilderness programs for troubled youth:

  • Your family walks on eggshells every time your teen is home.
  • Younger siblings avoid public areas of your house because they’re afraid of your troubled teenager.
  • You’re getting repeated calls from your teen’s school about significant behavioral problems, or you’re missing work because your teen is always suspended from school.
  • You’re not paying enough attention to your other children because everything you do revolves around your teenager’s problems.
  • You’ve tried multiple psychologists, psychiatrists, and behavioral specialists, but nothing seems to work.
  • Your marriage is under significant strain because of all of the problems with your teen.
  • Your teen has a substance abuse problem or behaves unpredictably in ways that make your home unsafe.
  • You feel like you don’t want to come home from work because you don’t want to see your teen.
  • Every time the phone rings, you wonder whether your teen is injured or in jail.

These stressors, on top of the normal stressors of work and raising other children, can have devastating results for families. Unrelenting pressure can cause depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and even physical illness. Because of the constant unhappiness of having a troubled teen at home, parents may think about separation or even divorce.

Troubled teens put not only their own futures in jeopardy. They also put the entire family at risk. Wilderness programs for troubled youth might seem like an extreme step, but sending your teen to a remote treatment location gives your family room to rest, regroup, and heal.

‘I Feel Like I’m Abandoning My Child’

It’s only natural for parents to want to stand by a troubled teen. It’s also natural for parents to think they’re the ones who know best what to do for their children. Some problems, however, are beyond a parent’s ability to cope. Big problems like criminal behavior and substance abuse require immediate intervention.

Not every teen, however, has these kinds of dramatic problems. If these behaviors describe your teen, and you don’t know what to do, you’re not alone:

  • Laziness
  • Skipping school
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Poor grades
  • Disrespectful language
  • Stealing money or belongings from family members
  • Severe mood swings
  • Carelessness with valuable belongings (e.g., has wrecked the family car three times because of careless driving)
  • Self-harm

Talk to a mental health professional about potential problems, like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder. Then, talk to teachers about potential learning disabilities. If you’ve tried everything you can think of, and problems persist, it’s OK to admit you don’t have the answers.

Outdoor Programs for Troubled Youth: How to Spot a Good One

Although wilderness programs for troubled teens have their own unique offerings, the best programs have these characteristics:

  • Accredited academics. You don’t want your teen to fall behind or risk not completing high school. That’s why good programs focus on education in addition to behavior change. Their classes can transfer back to your child’s hometown school. They can also transfer to other schools and colleges if your family decides to move or if your teen graduates.
  • Opportunities to build a good work ethic. Parents look at wilderness programs for troubled youth because they see a chance for their teens to learn the meaning of hard work. Teens should have responsibilities both around the grounds and within their dorms. They should have to work to earn privileges or promotion within the program.
  • Trained therapists, teachers, and supervisors. Troubled teens need qualified professionals, not amateurs, to help them overcome their challenges. They need access to therapists, both individually and in group sessions, and they need supervisors trained to recognize potentially explosive or self-harming behavior.
  • Structured outdoor activities. Good wilderness programs give teens the chance to spend time outdoors, whether they’re playing sports, doing chores, or participating in therapeutic activities. For example, Diamond Ranch Academy offers equine therapy, teaching teens social skills and work ethic while they care for horses alongside other students.

For Parents Seeking Relief

Diamond Ranch Academy, a wilderness school for troubled youth, offers accredited academics, extracurriculars, and therapeutic activities on a 55-acre working ranch in beautiful Hurricane, Utah. Visit our facility or request a free information packet. Discover how Diamond Ranch heals families, one youth at a time.