Trails Carolina Staff

Meet Our Team

Trails Carolina Staff: Passionate, Caring, Expertly Trained

Your family’s team will include your child’s primary therapist, a Family Coach, a medical coordinator, a certified teacher, an equine specialist and many more. Together, this team of experts will work to understand your child’s behavior in various contexts – family, peers, school, recreation, and alone. Combined, these diverse perspectives allow our team to customize your child’s treatment plan so they can experience success throughout their life.

Graham Shannonhouse, Executive Director and Founder

Graham Shannonhouse


Graham Shannonhouse has been actively involved in wilderness therapy for more than twenty years. Graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1991, she spent the following decade working with a leading wilderness therapy program in central Idaho, serving as a hands-on Field Instructor, Field Supervisor, and finally Wilderness Program Manager. She returned to her Carolina home in 2002 to serve as Executive Director of a therapeutic wilderness program, where she remained until she resigned in 2008 to form Trails Carolina.


Jeremy Whitworth

Executive Director

Jeremy has worked in therapeutic youth programs for the past decade. With a degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, Jeremy has run a wilderness program, boarding school, and summer camp programs all over North America. He grew up camping, rock climbing and trail running, and found the wilderness to be an incredible teacher of character, accountability, and confidence. Outside of Trails, he enjoys hiking with his wife and dogs, cooking healthy meals, and doing Crossfit.

Clinical Team

Our highly skilled clinical team creates individualized treatment plans for each child and family. As a parent, you can expect to be working with therapists who will help your child gain personal insight, provide treatment, and produce a thorough assessment of your child. Combined, our clinical team has many decades of experience working with teens and their families. 

Jeniveve Rollins, LCSW
Clinical Director / Primary Therapist

Jeniveve leads the clinical team and helps support staff with the therapeutic process.

Leah Madamba, MS, NCC, LCMHC
Family Services Director

Leah has worked in the therapeutic field for over 20 years in a variety of roles.

Amanda Mojave, LPC
Amanda Mojave, LCMHC
Youth Clinical Program Manager / Primary Therapist

Amanda leads and works with our younger girls group, students ages 10-14.

Travis Wireback, LCSW
Primary Therapist

Travis uses his depth of experience to lead groups for boys ages 14 – 17.

Jana Eilermann, NCC, LCMHC
Primary Therapist

Jana works closely with students and families throughout the therapeutic process.

Shalene Pierce, MSW, LCSW
Primary Therapist

Shalene has been with Trails since its inception and leads girls groups ages 14 – 17.

Sarah James - Trails Carolina
Sarah James, MA, LCMHC, LCAS
Primary Therapist

Sarah helps students learn resilience and self-awareness as they work toward change.

Julia Ruff, a Primary Therapist at Trails Carolina, wears a purple shirt and rainbow-dyed hair in two braids and smiles at the camera.
Primary Therapist

Julia is passionate about the wilderness and uses a trauma-informed approach with students.

Erin Cantalini, MA, LPC
Family Coach

Erin helps guide families throughout their therapeutic journey.

Melissa Turner, LCSW
Family Coach

Melissa helps guide Trails Carolina families throughout the therapeutic process.

Admissions Team

Our admissions team understands that the decision to send your child to a wilderness therapy program is a difficult one. We’re here to help you to understand the value of our program and if it is the right fit for your child. You will be met with professionalism and compassion as our team works to meet your family’s individual needs.

Julia Andrick
Admissions & Outreach

Julia has helped countless families make the decision to go to Trails.

Dottie - Admissions - Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy
Dottie Lank

Dottie works with families to help them make the transition to Trails.

Paula Woods - Admissions - Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy
Paula Woods
Admissions Assistant

Paula helps guide families through the admissions process.

Brooke - Admissions - Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy
Brooke Stewart
Family Programs Assistant

Brooke helps provide support and logistical details to families as they head towards graduation.

Wilderness Team

Expert wilderness and adventure camp staff for student success and safety Above all else, our wilderness team is there to ensure your child’s safety. Dedicated field instructors provide direct, individual care to students as they explore the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as Field Staff work alongside our Clinical Team and Medical Coordinator to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of your child are tended to.

Thor Jones
Adolescent Field Director

Thor supervises and manages the field instructors and staff.

Hannah Busis
Hannah Busis
Assistant Youth Field Director

Hannah is an assistant youth field director at Trails.

Mary Powers
Mary Powers
Senior Hiring Manager & HR Associate

Mary handles hiring and human resources at Trails.

Residential Team

The Residential Team provides quality programming in the classroom and beyond. Our dedicated teachers work hard to design an engaging curriculum, and accreditations ensure that credits earned by your child will transfer to most other schools. Beyond the classroom, our equine specialist facilitates students’ connection with our herd of horses, helping them connect with their emotions and better understand non-verbal communication.

Steve O'Neil
Ecology Specialist

Steve helps our students understand the misunderstood through experiential learning.

Robin Lively - Trails Carolina
Robin Lively Summers, PH.D.

Robin helps students thrive in the classroom.

Linsdey Elliott
Health and Wellness Director

Lindsey manages our health and wellness programming, Trails to Wellness.

Dr. Tony Fisher, MD
Consulting Physician

Tony completes all physicals and tends to basic medical needs.

Christy Ralston
Operations Director

Christy oversees operations at Trails Carolina.

Ben Holtzclaw
Ben Holtzclaw
Facilities Director

Ben manages all facilities at Trails Carolina and keeps our campus beautiful.

Anne Westall - Equine Specialist - Trails Carolina
Anne Westall
Equine Specialist

Anne oversees the horse programming for Trails.

Animal Team

The Animal Team provides comfort, support, and assistance with co-regulation. 

Primary Therapist Jana Eilermann's Pup

Maggie enjoys helping students learn to regulate their energy and emotions.

Amanda's Dog
Primary Therapist Amanda Mojave's Pup

Chuck loves helping students learn to regulate their energy and emotions.

photo of dog named Bix
Clinical Director Jeniveve Rollins's Pup

Bexley loves helping students learn to regulate their energy and emotions.

family reuniting - trails carolina reviews

Trails Carolina’s wilderness camps for troubled teens are dedicated to helping teens work through behavioral or emotional difficulties, build trusting relationships with their family and peers, and achieve academic success.

Get started today

Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family

Contact Us LP

Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022



Wilderness Therapy

We believe that a wilderness setting enhances the benefits of therapy.


Lasting Change

We believe that practicing and applying the lessons learned in the wilderness to everyday situations promotes lasting change.


Family Involvement

We believe that families benefit from being involved in their child's process.

Wilderness Camp For Troubled Youth

Trails Carolina, one of the leading wilderness therapy programs in the troubled teen industry, offers an immersive wilderness therapy experience for teens between the ages 10-17 who are struggling with both behavioral and mental health issues such as defiance, anxiety, and depression. Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program is one of a kind because it combines experiential therapy, individually tailored clinical programming, academics, and family-focused therapy to help teens succeed.

Trails Carolina’s approach to wilderness therapy enables teens and their families to find common ground through a balanced set of therapeutic offerings designed to help teens grow emotionally and to heal. Trails Carolina is able to provide teens with these opportunities through the following:

Experienced staff: The academic program at Trails is Cognia and our teachers are able to help your child excel academically while in the wilderness. Our Therapeutic team is exceptionally experienced in providing help for struggling teens so that they can overcome any obstacles ahead. But our team’s greatest strength is their ability to work together to provide the most well-balanced care for our students.

Equine Relational Programming: While at Trails Carolina, the students will have the opportunity to participate in equine relational programming. This helps students to connect to their emotions and nonverbal communication skills. This ultimately helps them to be able to be better communicators at home with their family and allows them to think introspectively about their actions.

Majestic Setting: Trails Carolina is nestled into the heart of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina. Our campus is hidden away from society deep within the Pisgah Forest, which is one of the oldest virgin forests in the entire world. This serene, beautiful and wondrous environment allows our students to reflect, learn, and grow in nature.


Being immersed in nature and away from all distractions allows for teens to have the opportunity to disconnect from the world and reconnect with themselves.

They can grow, learn, and not just survive, but thrive in the real world. Trails Carolina offers many benefits of wilderness therapy, including:

Personal, reflective growth: While at Trail Carolina, teens have the opportunity to better understand themselves.

This transformation, which takes place in the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains can help them to be better about knowing themselves, understanding others and how their actions, words, and lives can impact others.

In the wilderness, these teens are allowed to take a step back, reflect and see the world from another’s point of view without any distractions.

Transferable life skills: Not only do teens learn hard such as how to pitch a tent, how to build and keep a fire going, as well as how to navigate through the wilderness, they also learn valuable life lessons which are transferable to the real world. Some of these include leadership, teamwork, respect, responsibility, and self-awareness.

Individualized therapeutic and academic programming: Individualized therapeutic programming is the crux of why Trails Carolina works so well. When the academics and therapy are specific to an individual, it creates an environment that is personalized which enhances learning.

Teens struggling with defiance may have different therapeutic methods for dealing with this than other teens who may be struggling with different problems such as anxiety.

Family-focused programming: One of the ultimate goals of Trails Carolina is helping to repair the family unit. While their son or daughter is away in the wilderness, some programs offer family therapy sessions that help both the parents and the siblings work through problems which the family has been struggling with.

When the focus is brought back to the family, it can ensure lasting change when the child transitions home from a therapeutic program.

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

If your son or daughter is struggling with behavioral, emotional, or mental health issues like defiance, anxiety, or depression and it has started to impact their day to day lives, now is the time to examine possible options for treatment for your teen.

What is wilderness therapy?

Wilderness therapy programs, which are inpatient mental health treatment programs, can help child or teen explore what is troubling them, why they are acting out, and how they can better relate to their family and friends.

Removing teens from their hectic lives, technology, peers, bad habits, distractions, and influences is one of the many reasons why wilderness therapy programs work.

The best wilderness therapy programs offer an array of therapeutic techniques including, but not limited to equine relational programming, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and mindfulness techniques.

Wilderness therapy programs accept students on a case by case basis. The selection usually depends upon the clinical programing of wilderness therapy programs and the behaviors exhibited by a potential student.

Some programs may accept teens dealing with more clinically complex issues while others chose to focus on students with more easily managed difficulties.

That being said, most all wilderness therapy programs provide therapeutic programming for struggling teens with behavior problems and emotional difficulties including:

Neurodevelopmental Disorders- These include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Nonverbal Learning Disorder, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

School refusal- Many teens entering wilderness therapy programs are struggling with school refusal problems. Which is why wilderness therapy programs are great for treating teens who refuse school, who are frequently truant, or even suspended.

Substance experimentation or use– While most wilderness therapy programs deal with substance abuse in some degree, there are some wilderness therapy programs which are specified to help treat teens who are struggling with substance use issues, whether that be alcohol or marijuana use.

Defiance– Whether this is disruptive behavior in school and at home, wilderness therapy programs can help get to the root of these problems and address these issues in teens. This may also include Oppositional Defiance Disorder.

Anxiety– Social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder can be crippling for teens. It inhibits their functionality around peers, in the classroom, at work and with their family. Many wilderness programs provide help for teens struggling with some form of anxiety.

Depression– Depression can be tough, especially with teens which is why wilderness therapy programs offer therapeutic help to teens who are struggling with this.

We offer programs designed for pre-teens ages 10-13 and adolescents ages 13-17. Our clinically proven methods work exceptionally well with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Family conflict
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trauma
  • Social isolation
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide ideation
  • Adoption
  • Defiant behavior/Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Gaming and technology obsession
  • Substance abuse
  • Attachment issues
  • Manipulative behavior
  • Poor academic achievement
  • Learning differences
  • School refusal
  • ADHD
  • Mood dysregulation
  • Autism (high functioning)


We are passionate about helping students overcome challenges and reach their full potential, and committed to creating the most effective wilderness therapy program possible for students and their families. Our entire team is honored to dedicate their professional lives to changing the lives of troubled teens.

The average stay at our wilderness therapy program is 70-90 days.

Trails Carolina is not a traditional summer camp. Instead, it is a wilderness therapy program that is designed to help at-risk youth overcome challenges and build the skills needed to achieve long-term success.

The program combines traditional therapeutic interventions with outdoor activities and wilderness experiences, such as hiking, camping, and team-building exercises, to create a unique and immersive experience.

Students at Trails Carolina receive individualized care and attention, with small group sizes and personalized treatment plans.

Our program is offered year-round! The program is typically longer than a summer camp and can last from several weeks to several months, depending on the needs and progress of each student and family.

While participants in Trails Carolina can benefit from the same sense of adventure and connection to nature that is often associated with summer camps, the program is specifically designed to provide therapeutic interventions and support for at-risk youth.

After graduating from our wilderness treatment center, students will typically transition back home or to a step down type residential program (Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center, as examples).

Parents have multiple weekly touchpoints at the program. There is a separate program specifically designed for the involvement of the family.

We also provide in-person opportunities during a student’s time at trails for families to get on campus and do work with their child. We have some of the highest-rated family services within the industry. 

91% of students showed improvement in extremely significant symptoms of depression, 12 months after graduation.

Learn more: Does wilderness therapy work?

91% of students showed improvement in extremely significant symptoms of anxiety, 12 months after graduation.

Learn more: Treatment For Anxiety In Teens: How Wilderness Therapy Can Help

79% of students reported experiencing a decrease in suicidal thoughts, 12 months after graduation.

Trails Carolina Wilderness Therapy

Helps Students Develop New Life Skills

Our unique wilderness program helps students learn new skills and resources to address their emotional, social, academic or neurological challenges and improve their well being.

Trails Carolina wilderness programs offer comprehensive and integrated therapeutic programs based on research and experience. The focus is on individualized strength-based treatment and family systems. We assess your child in the context of their relationships with therapists, staff members, peers, teachers, family members and themselves in the wilderness and base camp environments.

By observing how your teen interacts with different people, and in what contexts they thrive and struggle we’re better able to help them build successful behavior patterns and strengthen key relationships.

wilderness camp for troubled youth

Wilderness Therapy With The Practical Experience of a Residential Base Camp

Trails is unique in that it balances the benefits of wilderness therapy and adventure therapy programs with the practical experience of a residential base camp. Through the expedition experience, struggling teens are empowered. Through academics, wellness practices and equine programming, students leverage the lessons they’ve learned in other settings – further building their confidence and ability to build connections and sustain positive change.

Practicing skills across different environments in this manner is beneficial to your child’s long-term success, as they can learn to apply their skills even when their surroundings and influences change.

Without this key practice, your child may struggle in one circumstance and thrive in another, depending on what the environment is like, or who else is around them. The Trails’ wilderness program allows us to test and challenge the skills your child has gained to create stronger behavioral patterns, so your child can effectively express their emotions in healthier ways throughout life.