Parents may find themselves struggling with their teenaged son or daughter because of their participating in any of numerous negative activities, which may include promiscuity, drugs and alcohol or other addictions and/or trouble with the law. In this situation, parents may find themselves searching for outside help, possibly by sending them to what are often called "teen boot camps." In the past, these types of camps have received bad press. Today, many in the "troubled teens" industry look forward to the imminent end of troubled teen boot camps."
Camps for troubled teens in Canada tend to focus on changing behaviours and attitudes through education, the influence of a good environment and positive role models.
Of course, parents may need to look at and change some of their own behaviours and attitudes and how these might be negatively impacting communication with their teenaged son or daughter. Simply relying on an outside "fix" like a teen boot camp is not a holistic approach to making real change.
On the other hand, there are many cases where teens simply need a radical change in order to break negative patterns. There are many troubled teens who do not fare well in traditional counseling environments, and there is some evidence that these teens are finding success in long-term treatment programs such as those offered at some camps. In 2010, the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs conducted a study showing that teens with problem emotional and behavioural issues improved during treatment at a residential program. In addition, they maintained a healthier outlook long after they left the treatment programs. Among problems these teens faced were ADHD, depression, and oppositional defiant disorder.
The study provided hard evidence over the anecdotal evidence traditionally provided by the industry. It followed 1,027 graduates of troubled teen treatment programs for one year after they completed their program and focused on how consistent the teens' behaviour remained.
For parents dealing with problem teens, we wish you wisdom as you search for a solution. We urge you to investigate the industry deeply in order to make the best informed decision you can. Consult the list below and enquire how these camps can help you with your troubled teen and how they believe they are different from dubious "treatment programs" of the past.