A Better Alternative To Scared Straight Programs & Boot Camps For Kids

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. Parents in New York looking for a different therapy program for their troubled teen need to consider Outback’s effective treatment methods. Wilderness therapy is centered on teens to leaving their comfort zones. Uprooting kids from their homes in New York and placing them into the Utah wilderness is just the beginning of an effective treatment program.

When comparing juvenile detention and wilderness therapy programs, wilderness therapy programs have been shown to be more capable at providing better treatment to participants. Wilderness therapy programs are more productive than boot camps or scared straight programs in New York or elsewhere.

A Look at Boot Camps For Troubled Youth and Scared Straight Programs in New York

How are boot camps and scared straight programs for troubled youth different from wilderness therapy programs?

Boot camps and scared straight programs use hard labor, exhaustion, and punishment to change bad behavior. They assume that, if the punishments are harsh enough, teens will change their behavior to avoid returning to the camp.

While these camps work to end bad behavior, they fail to provide a replacement behavior. Replacing bad behavior with positive behavior and actions is critical to effecting change in participants. Teens and their families struggle to find ways to resolve personal conflict and change behavior. Having trained therapists available at wilderness therapy programs has shown to develop this positive change.

The biggest problem with boot camps and scared straight programs is the unexpected consequences associated with them. Their reliance on punishment to change behavior means that participants in these programs hide their bad behaviors to avoid punishment, but don’t make changes. When the camp is over, teens and their families are left with bigger problems. Boot camps and scared straight programs teach that attending their programs are the only solution to bad behavior.

A Look at Wilderness Therapy Programs For Teens in New York

Wilderness therapy programs strive to cultivate in participants healthy life skills and better ways to solve problems. Wilderness therapy camps don’t focus on punishment. Instead, the therapists in wilderness therapy camps instill a desire in the teens to make big life changes. These teens choose to change their behaviors after learning how to deal with their problems and replace bad behavior with good behavior. This is much more effective than teaching teens to hide bad behaviors to escape punishment.

Research comparing wilderness therapy camps and boot camps, show that wilderness therapy camps produce better and longer lasting results with troubled teens.

Wilderness therapy is centered on taking teens out of their comfortable spaces and teaching them life lessons through survival skills and other object lessons. Taking kids from New York and having them attend a wilderness therapy program in Utah is a simple way to achieve this.

Wilderness therapy programs are a fresh start for its participants. They come to these camps not knowing anyone and are able to be themselves and not worry about preconceived notions of their peers.

At wilderness therapy camps, teens learn individual and group survival lessons. Camp counselors teach participants to problem solve and work together, while being mediators and friends to them. These effective problem solving lessons apply to life inside and outside the camp. They teach teens how to better recognize good and bad behaviors, how to develop meaningful relationships, and how to effectively solve problems and conflict.

How Can Wilderness Therapy Programs Benefit Teens in New York?

Wilderness therapy can benefit anyone, even troubled teens. Teens from all over have thrived in Outback’s Therapeutic Expedition program. The program has helped teens and kids struggling with anxiety and depression, those who are struggling academically, and those involved in unsafe behaviors and activities.

Outback has an impressive track record of successfully helping teens develop tools and life skills they previously lacked. This enables them to repair broken relationships, develop positive relationships, become more social, and elevate their life’s direction.

One misconception associated with wilderness therapy is that only court ordered teens are able to attend. This isn’t true. Wilderness therapy can benefit anyone struggling to make good life choices, or those learning how to deal with negative behaviors. Wilderness therapy helps teens dealing with mental health problems, addictions (alcohol, drugs, video games, etc.), poor academic performance, those struggling to make friends, and many others.

Outback can help teens avoid hitting rock bottom and get back on track. Anyone concerned about their teen’s life choices and direction should contact Outback today.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Wilderness Therapy

Outback’s assessment survey is the easiest way to help parents understand if their child can benefit from wilderness therapy. It also helps Outback understand where the teen is coming from and helps place them in the right programs.

The survey consists of 13 questions designed to help Outback understand the child’s behavior. The parent’s responses are used to determine the best kind of help for the teen. After the survey is completed, an Outback representative contacts the parents to answer any questions they may have and help them move forward with the application.

The teenage years are full of decision-making. When influenced by intense outside forces, teens can sometimes be pressured into making poor decisions. Things like unhealthy living conditions, hormones, friends, and school, all create intense pressure on teens. The stress associated with these situations can lead to poor decision-making. Many of these decisions can have major and lasting consequences. Giving teens the tools to make the best decisions in these situations is critical.

For some teens, recurring bad behavior can turn criminal. In New York, parents, teachers, and law enforcement struggle to break the cycle because they lack the skills to help these struggling teens. Parents will worry about their children and not knowing how to help them can be a big burden.

Outback’s wilderness therapy programs provide the best environments to effect change. Juvenile detention, scared straight camps, and boot camps all lack in that environment and aren’t equipped to teach effective life lessons. Outback’s methods teach teens a better way to live a balanced and happy life.

Never lose hope. Outback Therapeutic Expeditions are here to help. Through Outback’s tried and true methods, parents and teens can fix the past, avoid future bad behavior, and create a more positive and productive path forward.


While Outback is physically located in the beautiful state of Utah, students come to us from all over New York, the country, and the world, including (but not limited to) the following:










About the Author

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.

COVID-19 Update

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19, adhering to recommendations set forth by CDC, and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. To learn more, contact us at 800-817-1899.