Personalized Learning for Unique Minds: Wilderness Therapy for Students with Learning Disabilities

At Trails Carolina, we believe in the power of embracing unique minds and providing personalized learning experiences through our wilderness therapy programs. We understand that every child is different and that their academic challenges can be a result of a combination of factors including a learning disability, mental health or behavioral conditions, as well as environmental and social factors. That’s why our therapeutic programs are especially great for youth and teens with learning differences.

Through individualized treatment planning that focuses on the student’s strengths and transferable skill-building strategies, we aim to help these students thrive not only during their time with us but also in their future endeavors.

Understanding Common Learning Disabilities and Difficulties

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At Trails Carolina, we recognize that learning differences are diverse and can present unique challenges for students in public schools and other traditional educational settings. These differences go beyond simple academic struggles and can significantly impact a student’s ability to process, retain, and apply information. By understanding these challenges, we can better tailor our wilderness therapy programs to meet the individual needs of each student. Some of the common learning difficulties that our students may face include:

1. Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects reading and language processing. Individuals with dyslexia may experience challenges in the following areas:

  • Spelling: Difficulty spelling words correctly due to phonological awareness and letter-sound correspondence issues.
  • Decoding: Struggling to decode words, which affects reading fluency and comprehension.
  • Word Recognition: Difficulty recognizing common words, even after repeated exposure.

At Trails Carolina, we understand that dyslexia requires specialized teaching methods and approaches. Our experienced educators use multisensory techniques that engage visual, auditory, and tactile modalities to help students with dyslexia improve their reading and language skills.

2. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges with attention regulation, impulse control, and hyperactivity. Students with ADHD may face the following difficulties:

  • Sustaining Attention: Struggling to focus on tasks for extended periods, leading to decreased productivity in academic settings.
  • Impulse Control: Difficulty in controlling impulses, which may result in impulsive decision-making and behavior.
  • Hyperactivity: Experiencing restlessness and the need for constant movement, making it challenging to sit still and concentrate.

At Trails Carolina, we provide a structured and supportive environment that helps students with ADHD develop self-regulation skills. Through outdoor activities and therapeutic interventions, students learn to manage their attention and impulses effectively, enhancing their ability to engage in educational activities.

3. Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities

Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD) are characterized by challenges in understanding nonverbal cues, spatial reasoning, and motor skills. Students with NVLD may experience the following difficulties:

  • Interpreting Nonverbal Communication: Struggling to understand facial expressions, gestures, and body language, which can impact social interactions.
  • Spatial Skills: Difficulty in understanding spatial relationships, which may affect tasks such as reading maps or solving geometric problems.
  • Motor Coordination: Challenges in fine and gross motor skills, leading to difficulties in activities like handwriting and sports.

At Trails Carolina, we tailor our therapeutic activities to address the specific needs of students with NVLD. Through experiential learning and social skill-building exercises, students gain confidence in navigating social situations and enhancing their motor coordination.

4. Executive Functioning Issues

Executive functioning refers to a set of cognitive processes that help individuals plan, organize, manage time, and solve problems effectively. Students with executive functioning issues may encounter the following challenges:

  • Planning and Organization: Struggling to create and follow through with plans and organize tasks efficiently.
  • Time Management: Difficulty in managing time effectively, leading to missed deadlines and difficulties prioritizing tasks.
  • Problem-Solving: Facing challenges in analyzing problems and developing effective solutions.

At Trails Carolina, we incorporate activities that target executive functioning skills, such as setting goals and following structured routines. Through guided practice and consistent support, students develop essential executive functioning strategies to excel academically and beyond.

By understanding the unique characteristics of these learning difficulties, Trails Carolina can create a nurturing and empowering environment where students with diverse needs can thrive and reach their full potential. We believe in embracing the uniqueness of every mind and guiding our students towards success in both their academic pursuits and personal growth.

An Individualized Education Program: Accommodating Learning Differences at Trails Carolina

At Trails Carolina, we take pride in providing a supportive and inclusive environment where every student’s unique learning needs are met. Our wilderness therapy program is designed to accommodate various learning differences, ensuring that each student receives the personalized care and attention they deserve. Here’s how we achieve this:

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1. Comprehensive Assessment:

Before embarking on their wilderness therapy journey, each student undergoes a comprehensive assessment conducted by our team of professionals. This assessment delves into various aspects of the student’s academic, emotional, and social functioning, aiming to identify specific learning challenges and strengths. The assessment includes:

  • Academic evaluations to understand areas of difficulty and proficiency.
  • Emotional and behavioral assessments to identify underlying factors that may impact learning.
  • Social interactions and communication evaluations to gauge interpersonal skills.

This thorough assessment forms the foundation for creating an individualized treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each student.

2. Individualized Treatment Planning:

At Trails Carolina, we understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to therapeutic interventions for learning differences. Based on the assessment results, our team of experts, including therapists, educators, and wilderness guides, collaborates to develop a personalized treatment plan for each student. This plan is tailored to address the specific learning difficulties while also fostering personal growth and emotional well-being. The individualized treatment plan includes:

  • Specific academic goals and strategies to overcome challenges.
  • Emotional support and coping mechanisms to manage stress and anxiety.
  • Social skill development to enhance communication and interpersonal relationships.

Our comprehensive treatment planning ensures that every aspect of a student’s learning journey is taken into account, setting them up for success in both academic and personal aspects of their lives.

3. Adaptive Teaching Techniques:

In the wilderness, learning takes on a whole new dimension. Our experienced educators are well-versed in using adaptive teaching techniques that cater to various learning styles. Whether a student learns best through visual, auditory, or kinesthetic methods, our educators tailor their teaching approaches to suit individual preferences. This ensures that every student can fully engage with the curriculum and grasp concepts effectively.

4. Small Group Settings:

To provide the highest level of attention and support, we maintain small group settings throughout the wilderness therapy program. By keeping groups small, our staff can focus on the specific needs of each student, fostering a safe and conducive environment for learning and personal growth. The close-knit setting also encourages students to build meaningful connections with their peers and staff, enhancing the overall therapeutic learning experience throughout.

5. Experiential Personalized Learning Opportunities:

At Trails Carolina, we strongly believe in the power of experiential learning. Our wilderness therapy program incorporates hands-on experiences and real-life challenges to help students develop practical skills and boost their self-confidence. Experiential learning goes beyond the classroom, allowing students to apply their knowledge in real-world situations, thus reinforcing their learning and enhancing retention.

By accommodating learning differences through comprehensive assessments, individualized treatment planning, adaptive teaching techniques, small group settings, and experiential learning opportunities, Trails Carolina ensures that every student can thrive and grow during their transformative wilderness therapy journey. We are committed to unlocking the potential within each unique mind, empowering our students for a successful future in both academic pursuits and life beyond the program.

Developing Strategies for Long-Term Success

At Trails Carolina, our commitment goes beyond providing short-term solutions. We strive to equip our students with the skills and strategies they need to thrive long after their time with us. By focusing on building resilience, improving executive functioning, nurturing social and emotional learning, involving families, and offering transitional support, we set our students up for success in various aspects of their lives:

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1. Building Resilience:

Through a series of outdoor adventures and therapeutic activities, our students learn the art of resilience and adaptability. Wilderness therapy presents numerous challenges, and as students overcome these obstacles, they develop a strong sense of resilience, which empowers them to face future challenges with confidence and determination.

2. Improved Executive Functioning:

We recognize the importance of executive functioning skills in academic success and daily life. To address executive functioning issues, we incorporate structured routines, goal-setting exercises, and time management activities into our daily schedule. These strategies help students better plan, organize, and manage their time, fostering improved executive functioning skills that extend well beyond the wilderness therapy program.

3. Social and Emotional Learning:

At Trails Carolina, we understand the significance of social and emotional intelligence in building meaningful relationships and navigating life’s complexities. Through group therapy sessions and engaging peer interactions, students enhance their social skills, communication abilities, and emotional awareness. These social and emotional learning experiences enrich their interpersonal connections and lay the groundwork for healthier relationships in the future.

4. Family Involvement:

We recognize the crucial role of families in a student’s learning journey and overall well-being. That’s why we actively involve families in the treatment process. By providing families with the tools, resources, and support they need, we create a collaborative environment that extends beyond the wilderness therapy experience. Family involvement helps strengthen the student’s support network, promoting continuous growth and success after graduation from Trails Carolina.

5. Transitional Support:

As our students prepare to graduate from Trails Carolina, we offer comprehensive transitional support to ensure a smooth reintegration into their academic settings or other endeavors. Our dedicated team works closely with the student and their family to develop a personalized transition plan. This plan includes academic support, skill-building strategies, and ongoing follow-up to facilitate a seamless transition into the next phase of their lives.

Trails Carolina Can Help

At Trails Carolina, we take immense pride in empowering youth and teens with learning differences to embrace their unique minds fully. Our therapeutic boarding school offers students a chance to go beyond academic learning, instilling invaluable life skills and fostering personal growth in every student. Through resilience, improved executive functioning, social and emotional learning, family involvement, and transitional support services, we prepare our students for a successful future in both their academic pursuits and life beyond Trails Carolina.

Join us at Trails Carolina as we embark on a transformative journey of embracing unique minds and unlocking boundless potential.

Contact us today to learn more and start your adventure!


1. Who is Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program designed for?

Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program is designed for youth and teenagers who may be struggling with learning differences and other challenges. Our program accommodates children with a diverse range of learning difficulties, including but not limited to dyslexia, ADHD, non-verbal learning disabilities, and executive functioning issues.

2. How does Trails Carolina accommodate learning differences in its therapeutic program?

At Trails Carolina, we understand that each student’s learning journey is unique. To accommodate learning differences, we follow these key steps:

  • Conduct comprehensive assessments to identify individual needs and challenges.
  • Develop individualized treatment plans tailored to address specific learning difficulties and promote personal growth.
  • Utilize adaptive teaching techniques to cater to various learning styles.
  • Maintain small group settings to provide personalized attention and support.
  • Emphasize experiential learning to develop practical skills and boost self-confidence.

3. What strategies are taught to students for long-term success?

Trails Carolina aims to equip students with essential strategies for long-term success, including:

  • Building resilience and adaptability through outdoor adventures and therapeutic activities.
  • Addressing executive functioning issues through structured routines, goal-setting exercises, and time management activities.
  • Enhancing social and emotional learning through group therapy and peer interactions.
  • Involving families in the treatment process, providing them with tools and resources to support their child’s learning journey.
  • Offering transitional support as students prepare to graduate, ensuring a smooth reintegration into academic settings or other endeavors.

4. How does Trails Carolina prepare students for life beyond the program?

Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program goes beyond academic learning. We focus on fostering personal growth, building life skills, and empowering students to embrace their unique minds fully. By providing strategies for success in various aspects of life, we prepare students for a successful future in both their academic pursuits and life beyond Trails Carolina.

5. Is family involvement essential in the therapy process?

Yes, family involvement is an integral part of the therapy process at Trails Carolina. We actively involve families in their child’s treatment journey, providing them with the necessary tools and resources to support their child’s learning and personal growth. Family involvement creates a collaborative environment and strengthens the student’s support network, facilitating long-term success.

6. How can I get started with Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program?

To get started with Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program or to learn more about our approach to accommodating learning differences, you can contact us through our website or give us a call. Our team of experts will be more than happy to answer your questions and guide you through the enrollment process.

7. What makes Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program unique?

Trails Carolina’s wilderness therapy program stands out for its individualized attention and holistic approach and we have 10 years of outcome data, from more than one-thousand families, that demonstrates continued improvement being seen a year after graduation. We tailor our therapeutic interventions to address each student’s specific learning difficulties while also promoting personal growth and emotional well-being. With a focus on experiential learning and resilience-building, our program empowers students to embrace their uniqueness and unlock their full potential for success in school and life.

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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: 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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