Wilderness Programs For Troubled Youth

Wilderness Program Benefits For Boys, Girls, & Teens

Why Wilderness Programs?

In the wilderness, there are natural circumstances that offer natural consequences. When it rains and you are without shelter, you will get wet. When you hike without water, you will likely get dehydrated. When you don't learn how to make a campfire properly, you may end up cold during the night. Experiencing these natural consequences first-hand fosters improved accountability and self-reflection. This is the power of wilderness programs for troubled youth.

Whether students are angry, disappointed, sad, scared, or frustrated, Trails Carolina's wilderness programs offer experiences for them—and their families—that can lead to real, significant, and lasting change.

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We can help your child get back on track. Call today to learn more about our wilderness programs.

A Catalyst for Growth and Change

Removing a troubled child from the temptations of our fast-paced, plugged-in culture and placing the child in a wilderness setting disrupts the cycle of negative behaviors. The wilderness provides a challenging environment that encourages growth and change.

Students spend time reflecting on past choices and exploring future possibilities in a natural setting. While the wilderness provides many unexpected opportunities for learning and growth, the natural consequences of negative and positive behavior are very predictable. Rather than trying to reward or punish teens for certain behaviors, nature teaches the most powerful and life-changing lessons.

Negative behaviors carry negative consequences and positive behaviors carry positive consequences. It may sound simple, but this occurs naturally in a therapeutic wilderness program. Over time the students begin to understand and take ownership of their actions, leading to greater long-term success.

Powerful lessons are learned on the trail. Experiential activities trigger peak experiences, helping students harness their own internal strength and self-confidence. These experiences serve as significant breakthrough moments of self-actualization and insight.

Learning is far more effective in the wilderness because as struggles are encountered, we have trained staff present around the clock to help direct the process and offer insights that students may not think of on their own.

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The Healing Powers of a Natural Setting

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“An expanding body of primarily correlative scientific evidence points in a single, common-sense direction: Getting children outside can be good for their health. And getting them outside in nature may well offer special benefits.” From Richard Louv, author of “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.”

We give youth and teens an opportunity to step away from the distractions and temptations of their daily lives and embed themselves in the beauty and serenity of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Nantahala National Forest.  This awe-inspiring, remote wilderness program setting is the perfect backdrop for our proven therapeutic approach.

While at Trails, your child will hike through tranquil hardwood forests, become mesmerized by cascading falls, and reflect upon the breathtaking panoramas from elevations as high as 5000 ft.  The splendor and peacefulness of the wilderness give students the perfect setting to stop and reflect upon their lives, the choices they’ve made, and the future they’d like to plan.

Benefits of Exercise On Mental Health

Physical exercise is not just good for the body; it’s also great for the brain!  The psychological benefits of physical exercise are well-documented.

Regular exercise can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression, dramatically improve self-esteem, and encourage an overall positive outlook.

For this reason, outdoor exercise is a daily part of the Trails program. While at Trails, students enjoy hikes, equine activities, sports, and a variety of experiential activities. Students push their physical limits while reaching new pinnacles of self-discovery and confidence.

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