Is a Boot Camp or a Wilderness Camp a Good Idea?

Sep 07, 2014

Some considerations when thinking about Wilderness Camps or Boot Camps for at-risk or out of control youth:

  • There are no published randomized clinical trials showing these programs work to reduce out of control behaviors or mental health disorders.
  • There is little federal or state over-site of these programs. There are no training requirements for staff.
  • Children have been abused and have died participating in Wilderness Programs due to extreme or unsafe interventions implemented by untrained staff.
  • The Wilderness camps do not address factors in the youth’s  day-to-day life such as peers, school, community or family factors that may be contributing to negative behaviors or may be a resource to help address negative behaviors.
  • Wilderness Programs and Boot Camps tend to be expensive.  Not everyone can afford them.

Boot Camp for.png

Why we prefer family- focused therapy for at risk youth:

  • No program will ever care as much about your child as you do, or want to protect and help your child as much as you do.
  • Family therapy allows the therapist and family to work together to make changes in the youth’s day to day environment that can make all the difference in the youth’s ability to follow rules and respond positively to parents and caretakers.
  • The family therapist can help the youth and parents work with schools, coaches, and  employers to support success.
  • At Embark we are trained in evidenced based practice such as Multisystemic Therapy and others, which clinical trials demonstrate are effective.
  • The cost is far less, making it more affordable for families.

Helpful resource:

Boot Camp statment.pdf


Diane Melancon

Diane is a Partner with Embark Counseling get in touch with her at

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