Scared straight programs and boot camps for kids can do more harm than good. Wilderness therapy programs like Outback Therapeutic Expeditions are a better alternative and ARE NOT the same as a scared straight program or a boot camp for kids.
Outback is located in Lehi, Utah. As parents in Texas consider different therapy programs for their troubled teens, we encourage them to consider Outback’s effective treatment methods. A big part of wilderness therapy requires removing teens from their comfort zones.Taking kids from their homes in Texas and putting them into the Utah wilderness is an effective first step.
When compared to juvenile detention, wilderness therapy programs have been shown to be more efficient and provide better treatment to participants. Wilderness therapy programs are also more beneficial than boot camps or scared straight programs in Texas or elsewhere.
Boot camps for troubled youth and scared straight programs are very different from wilderness therapy programs.
Boot camps and scared straight programs are structured to change bad behavior through exhaustion, hard labor, and punishment. They operate under the assumption that teens will change their behavior to avoid returning to the camp.
These camps work to end bad behavior, but neither emphasize replacing bad behavior with positive behavior and actions. Many teens (and their families) struggle to understand how to resolve personal conflict and benefit from having trained therapists available.
Because boot camps and scared straight programs rely on punishment to change behavior, they usually have unintended consequences. Participants in these programs tend to hide their bad behaviors to avoid punishment, but don’t actually change. This creates bigger problems for teens and their families when the camps are over. Camps like this emphasize that attendance in the program is a personal problem, and the only way to avoid the consequence is to avoid bad behavior.
Conversely, wilderness therapy programs strive to educate that bad behavior is the problem and healthy life skills are the solution. At wilderness therapy camps, the focus is not on punishment. The therapists in wilderness therapy camps help teens change their behaviors, by teaching them how to deal with their problems and replace bad behavior with good behavior. This is much better than the teens learning to hide bad behaviors to avoid negative consequences.
Research has shown wilderness survival camps achieve better results with troubled youth than boot camps and scared straight programs.
Wilderness therapy operates on a simple idea: take teens out of their comfortable spaces and teach them life lessons through survival skills and other object lessons. Taking kids out of Texas and putting them into a wilderness therapy program in Utah is an easy way to accomplish this.
Wilderness therapy programs provide fresh starts for its participants. They are able to be themselves and not worry about preconceived notions from their peers.
These teens learn survival lessons individually and in groups. Camp counselors provide mediation and friendship to all the participants and help them problem solve as they learn to work together. These problem-solving lessons apply to the camp, but also apply outside of the camp. These lessons help teens differentiate between good and bad behaviors. They learn how to develop meaningful relationships, and how to effectively problem solve and reduce conflict.
Anyone can benefit from wilderness therapy. Troubled teens, no matter where they are from, have thrived in Outback’s Therapeutic Expedition program. The program has benefited kids with depression, those whose academic performance is struggling, and those involved in dangerous activities.
Outback has a history of successfully helping teens develop tools and life skills to repair broken relationships, develop positive relationships, become more social, and improve their outlook on life.
Teens don’t need a court order, or to get in trouble to attend wilderness therapy. Anyone struggling to make good life choices, or dealing with negative behaviors should seek out wilderness therapy. Wilderness therapy helps teens dealing with addictions (drugs, alcohol, video games, etc.), poor academic performance, those who struggle to make friends, and many others.
Anyone concerned about the path their teen is on should contact Outback today. Outback will help them avoid hitting rock bottom and get back on the right path.
Outback has created an assessment survey to help parents better understand if their child can benefit from a wilderness therapy program. It also helps Outback get a better idea what programs the teen can benefit from.
The survey has 13 checklist questions for parents to answer about their child’s behavior. The survey uses the number of items checked to determine the best kind of help for the teen. Upon completion of the survey, Outback provides contact information to the parents to help them reach an Outback representative to answer any questions they may have and help them move forward with the application.
Making mistakes is a big part of life. Certain phases of life can be especially difficult for teenagers, especially when influenced by intense outside forces. Poor living conditions, friends, school, and hormones all contribute to intense internal pressure on teens. These stressful situations easily lead to poor decision-making. These decisions can have major and lasting consequences.
Recurring bad behavior can sometimes turn criminal for teens. In Texas, parents, teachers, and law enforcement struggle to break the cycle because they don’t know how to fix the problem, or bureaucratic red tape prevents effective solutions. It’s easy for parents to worry about their children and not knowing how to help them can be a big burden.
Outback’s wilderness therapy programs are more effective and provide better environments than juvenile detention, scared straight camps, or boot camps. Outback provides a better way to learn to live a balanced and happy life.
Don’t lose hope. Outback Therapeutic Expeditions are here to help parents and teens repair the past, avoid future bad behavior, and create a happier and productive path forward.
While Outback is physically located in the beautiful state of Utah, students come to us from all over Texas, the country, and the world, including (but not limited to) the following:
McKay Deveraux, MSW, LCSW, is the executive director of Outback Therapeutic Expeditions
McKay has over 17 years of experience working with troubled teens in wilderness therapy. Before becoming the executive director at Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, McKay received his Masters of Social Work from Brigham Young University, worked as a field staff, field director, program director, and as a primary therapist at Outback.
He is honored to have served as Battalion Operations Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves and is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.