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 Therapeutic Expeditions is located in Lehi, Utah. Maryland parents who want a better kind of therapy program for their troubled teen need to look at the positive impact Outback has had on so many teens and their families. The best wilderness therapy programs pull teens out of their comfort zones. By removing kids from their Maryland homes and putting them in the Utah wilderness, the first step toward rehabilitation has begun.

Wilderness therapy programs provide much better treatment and help for participants than juvenile detention, scared straight programs, or boot camps in Maryland and elsewhere.

Boot Camps For Troubled Youth And Scared Straight Programs In Maryland

There are several traits wilderness therapy programs have that enable them to effect more change than boot camps and scared straight programs for troubled youth. These traits prove that wilderness therapy is able to provide a more holistic treatment for your teen.

Boot camps and scared straight programs teach that the best way to change bad behavior is through exhaustion, punishment, and putting the participants through gruelling labor. They use harsh punishments to scare the teens into changing behavior to avoid returning to the camp.

While these camps attempt to end bad behavior, they fail because they don’t replace the bad behavior with anything positive. To create a behavior change, you must replace negative behavior with positive behavior and actions. Without this necessary step, teens and their families continue to struggle with changing behavior and resolving personal conflict, which leaves them in the same place as before the camp. Wilderness therapy camps bring in trained therapists to help teens initiate positive changes in their lives.

Boot camps and scared straight programs have many negative consequences. Because they focus on punishment, this encourages participants to hide their bad behavior to avoid being punished. instead of changing behavior, participants don’t learn anything. When the camp is over, teens and their families are left without support as they try to figure out what comes next. Boot camps and scared straight programs use fear as motivation to get their participants to change.

A Look at Wilderness Therapy Programs For Teens in Maryland

Wilderness therapy programs are built to give participants life skills that enable them to solve problems individually and in teams. Wilderness therapy camps focus on teaching good behavior through positive reinforcement, not punishment. Wilderness therapy camps create a desire in teens to think for themselves and instill a desire to make positive life changes. These teens chose to modify their behaviors after learning how to work through their problems. They successfully use good behavior to replace bad attitudes. This creates change within the teens and teaches them that masking bad behavior to avoid punishment isn’t healthy.

Researchers have compared wilderness therapy camps to boot camps and found that wilderness therapy camps provide teens with a greater ability to make good decisions and use tools that help them positively improve their lives.

One of the key practices of wilderness therapy is to take teens out of their comfort zones and bring them to an unfamiliar environment. This provides them more opportunities to learn life lessons through survival skills and object lessons without being distracted. Kids from Maryland who attend a wilderness therapy program in Utah are one step closer to making big life changes.

Each person who attends a wilderness therapy program comes with a fresh start. They don’t know anything about other participants, and no one knows who they are. This clean slate atmosphere allows them to find themselves without worrying about external life pressures and preconceived notions.

The camp counselors focus on lessons that teach individual and group survival lessons while focusing on working together and solving problems. The counselors in wilderness therapy programs try to be mentors and friends, and provide a positive role model for the participants. These life lessons are applicable to life inside and outside of the camp. When teens return home, they are better able to recognize good and bad behaviors. They know how they can develop positive relationships, and they are able to solve problems effectively.

How Can Wilderness Therapy Benefit Teens in Maryland?

Wilderness therapy has been shown to improve the lives of many people. Outback’s Therapeutic Expedition programs bring troubled teens to Utah from all over the United States. Outback’s programs work with youth struggling with mental health problems, those with academic struggles, those involved in unsafe behaviors, and more.

Outback has successfully created an environment that teaches important life skills, and has enabled participants to develop skills they didn’t have before. Outside the camp, these teens are able to reconstruct relationships, become more social, develop and maintain positive relationships, and elevate their life’s purpose.

Many believe that only court-ordered teens are able to attend wilderness therapy. This isn’t true. Outback wants to use wilderness therapy is to help anyone struggling to make positive life changes. It helps those who are struggling with balancing negative and positive behaviors, anyone dealing with addictions (drugs and alcohol, social media, video games, etc.), poor academic performance, mental health issues, and even those struggling to make friends.

Outback’s primary goal is to help teens avoid hitting rock bottom. Parents concerned about their struggling teen should contact Outback today.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Wilderness Therapy

Outback has created an assessment survey to help parents understand what benefits wilderness therapy can have for their child while providing Outback the information on how to best meet the needs of each individual.

The 13 question survey for parents helps Outback understand what each child is struggling with. Upon completing the survey, an Outback representative will contact the parents, answers questions they have, and help them begin an application.

Teenagers have a lot of big decisions to make. They also deal with intense outside pressures. Abuse, hormones, friends, unsanitary living conditions, and school create extreme pressure on teens and lead to poor decision-making. If handled incorrectly, these stressful situations can have lasting impacts. Equipping teens with the best tools to improve their lives is critical to what Outback does.

Occasionally, recurring bad behavior can sometimes turn criminal. Parents, teachers, and law enforcement in Maryland aren’t always equipped to break the cycle of bad behavior because they don’t know how to help these struggling teens. It’s very difficult for parents to feel like they can’t help their children, but that’s what Outback is here to do.

Outback’s wilderness therapy program creates a positive environment that allows teens to review and take control of their lives. Juvenile detention, scared straight programs, and boot camps all lack the ability to effect positive and permanent change in the lives of teens. Outback’s proven methods help teens desire to make good choices and bring balance to their lives.

Don’t give up. Outback Therapeutic Expeditions knows how to help you and your troubled teen. Outback’s tested methods have helped parents and teens fix the past can, avoid future bad behavior, and gives them skills to 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 Maryland, 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.