10 Ways Trails Carolina’s Summer Programs Empower At-Risk Students to be Successful in the Next School Year

As the school year comes to a close and summer approaches, many parents may be concerned that being out of the classroom for three months might put their child at risk of falling further behind.

If your child is in danger of failing academically, or if they struggle with school refusal, truancy, school-based disciplinary problems, or face circumstances that hinder their academic progress, it can be overwhelming to witness your child’s academic difficulties and feel unsure of how to support them effectively.

Fortunately, Trails Carolina is here to help your child get back on a path toward academic success.

Why Enroll Your Child in a Trails Carolina Therapeutic Program for At-Risk Students This Summer?


Unlike other at-risk summer programs that may limit academics and focus on character-building activities, our approach is comprehensive. We combine creative teen intervention services, accredited academics, nature-based experiential learning, family programming, and a unique wilderness therapy transitions model to enhance student learning.

Our holistic approach aims to empower at-risk students and equip them with the skills they need to overcome academic and behavioral challenges that tend to adversely affect their education.

By enrolling your child in Trails Carolina’s at-risk youth programs this summer, you’ll offer them a therapeutic and inclusive environment where they can thrive mentally, emotionally, and academically.

Discover how Trails Carolina’s innovative approach can transform your child’s academic journey over the summer:

1. We Identify Risk Factors and Provide Individualized Support Plans

By recognizing the unique challenges faced by at-risk students, we can provide them with the necessary support to overcome these obstacles, whether they are related to mental health issues, behavioral concerns, or learning-related factors.

Two Trails students sit cross-legged on a wooden platform with  a member of the Trails staff and a dog.

Through comprehensive assessments, we identify the specific challenges that contribute to their at-risk status. This allows us to develop targeted interventions and therapeutic strategies tailored to address their individual needs and address the underlying factors that affect their educational performance. By addressing these risk factors, we empower at-risk students to navigate their academic journey more effectively.

Our team of trained professionals works closely with each student, taking into account their learning disabilities or other barriers to academic success. By tailoring our support to meet their individual needs, we ensure that at-risk students receive the personalized attention required to thrive.

2. We Create an Inclusive and Supportive School Environment Where At-Risk Students Can Thrive

For at-risk students, feeling safe and included in their learning environment is crucial, and many of these students often benefit from extra support. 

At Trails, our students transition between engaging in hands-on learning and therapeutic activities on wilderness expeditions and guided lessons in our supportive basecamp classroom environment that mimics the traditional school setting. This unique educational experience fosters significant progress and helps students create positive school experiences that ignite their belief in their abilities and inspire them to take action toward their goals.

Each of our students will work with a dynamic team made up of their primary therapist, wilderness staff members, certified teachers, and subject matter experts. By fostering positive relationships and providing a nurturing space, our team helps at-risk students overcome the barriers they may face in a traditional school environment.

This inclusive environment lets students know that their thoughts and opinions matter and encourages them to engage in their education and fosters a sense of belonging, which positively impacts their academic performance and overall well-being.

3. We Incorporate Experiential Education Tailored to Individual Needs

Students at Trails Carolina engage in therapeutic creative activities.

Each student has their own unique learning style, strengths, and challenges. That’s why we focus on experiential education that provides multiple ways for students to learn, whether that’s in our classroom, or on a hike.

Our therapeutic program goes beyond traditional classroom instruction by incorporating hands-on, real-life experiences. We understand that at-risk students may learn best through active participation, exploration, and practical application.

By designing experiential educational activities that align with their interests and strengths, we provide meaningful learning experiences that promote deeper understanding and the ability to transfer the knowledge and skills they learn with us back home.

Whether it’s engaging in outdoor challenges, art therapy, or group activities, our experiential education approach fosters a sense of relevance and personal connection, inspiring at-risk students to reignite their interest in learning, develop new skills, and unlock their full potential.

4. We Help Students Develop Resilience and Coping Skills

We empower at-risk youth by teaching them resilience and coping skills that will help them navigate challenges in their academic and personal lives.

Through experiential learning and therapeutic interventions, students face challenges and practice overcoming them which helps build emotional intelligence and develop healthier and more productive coping strategies.

5. We Help Students Build Self-Efficacy and Confidence

One of our key goals is to help at-risk students build self-efficacy and confidence which are essential components for sustainable growth and positive change. Through engaging in outdoor activities and facing personal challenges, students discover their own strengths and develop a sense of belief in their abilities.

The supportive environment that we create at Trails Carolina encourages students to step outside their comfort zones, take risks, and recognize their potential for success. By fostering self-efficacy and confidence, we empower at-risk students to overcome setbacks and approach their academic endeavors with a positive, growth mindset.

6. We Help Students Enhance Their Communication Skills

The impact of family involvement in at-risk youth programs: family engages in communication activity outdoors.

Social skills and effective communication are essential for academic success. Many at-risk students struggle in these areas, which can impact their overall performance.

At Trails Carolina, we provide opportunities for students to improve their interpersonal skills, build positive relationships, and enhance their ability to collaborate effectively in and out of the classroom.

Students learn how to communicate clearly, resolve conflicts, and work as a team through structured group activities, such as setting up camp together on wilderness expeditions and engaging in team-building exercises. These enhanced social skills not only benefit their academic interactions but also improve their overall social and emotional well-being.

7. We Help Students Strengthen Executive Functioning Skills

Executive functioning skills, such as organization, time management, and planning, are vital for academic success. At-risk students often struggle with these skills, hindering their ability to meet academic expectations.

Our programs include opportunities for students to work on strengthening these executive functioning skills. For example, on camping expeditions, students must work together to keep their camp and gear organized and use time management skills to make sure they accomplish necessary wilderness safety tasks, like setting up the tent and starting the campfire, before the sun sets. By providing our students with practical tools and strategies to manage their time, prioritize tasks, and achieve their academic goals, we equip them with the tools needed to overcome barriers and excel academically.

8. We Nurture Emotional Well-Being

Research suggests that at-risk students are more prone to experiencing mental health challenges and emotional difficulties. This can become a cycle where poor mental health leads to poor academic performance, and poor academic performance leads to poorer mental health and self-esteem.

Our therapeutic program places a strong emphasis on emotional well-being, offering therapeutic interventions and counseling with a primary therapist to support students’ mental health and emotional needs. Through individual therapy sessions and supportive peer groups, students learn healthy coping mechanisms, emotional regulation strategies, and self-care techniques for improved emotional and mental health.

9. We Help Our Students Appreciate Learning

Science Steve helps at-risk students appreciate learning through hands-on environmental lessons.

Through our engaging and experiential educational activities, we create opportunities for students to rediscover the joy of learning. We tailor our curriculum to their interests and incorporate hands-on experiences that make learning exciting and relevant. By connecting academic concepts to real-world applications and personal growth, we bridge the gap between academic challenges and personal development.

Through this approach, at-risk students develop a renewed enthusiasm for learning, embracing it as a lifelong journey of discovery and empowerment. By helping our students appreciate learning, we empower them to become self-directed learners and active participants in their educational journey, setting them up for success in the next school year and beyond.

10. We Offer Transition Support to Ease the Return to School

Transition support is crucial for helping at-risk students return to school after their experience at Trails Carolina. We use a comprehensive wilderness therapy transitions model to prepare at-risk students to meet change with confidence and grace.

This ensures that students have a smooth reintegration process when they return to school. Transition support at Trails sets students up for long-term success in their educational journey.

Get Started With Trails Carolina Today

Trails Carolina’s summer programs are proven to benefit at-risk students. We focus on providing tailored support, fostering positive relationships, and empowering students to succeed academically and personally. By addressing the unique challenges faced by at-risk students, Trails Carolina sets them on a path toward a brighter future. Learn more today.

Avatar of Jeremy Whitworth

Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: https://trailscarolina.com/common-ground-podcast/ With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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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


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