How Wilderness Therapy Aids Youth Development

From the ages 10 to 17, your son or daughter will experience some of the most formative stages of youth development. Piaget’s cognitive development theory states this as a time when reasoning becomes focused and logical and teens begin to develop the ability to think abstractly. They will attempt to understand the world and themselves. These years will help determine their future selves, happiness and success. If you child is struggling with behavior, mood, social or other issues, it is important that you intervene and seek help.

Wilderness therapy helps youth development 

Being in the wilderness simplifies everything. Suddenly, among the trees and dirt, your own thoughts and feelings become startlingly clear. Seeing the bigger picture is easier. The smallest things become pivotal. Being free from the distractions, technology and glittery sheath of society that clouds the truths and realizations is essential for healing and youth development.

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda

Personal Responsibility and Self Efficacy

youth development

Photo Source: Flickr User – Douglas Scortegagna

Pitching a tent, hanging a bear bag, purifying your own water and building a fire are all useful skills taught at a wilderness therapy program. Teens feel proud for working hard and learning skills with directly applicable uses. They rely on themselves and because their hard work has visible results, they begin to see all the great things they are capable of being and doing in the front and back country.

Working with others

It takes a great amount of teamwork to get a group of teens through the woods, to pack out, cook dinner and maintain order. Teens learn how to manage groups, build relationships, communicate clearly and lead others. The close-knit nature of a backpacking group creates an environment where teens can easily see how their actions and state of mind affects other people, as well as a group.

Hard work and determination payoff

In the wilderness, there is no room for slacking. If you don’t work hard to pitch your tent, you simply won’t have a place to sleep. When you work hard to hike up a mountain, eventually you will reach the beautiful view at the top. There is strength and power in the journey. Just like healing and changing, the beauty in the sunset makes all the sweat and strain of the climb worth it. Teens experience the positive products that directly result from hard work.

Appreciation for daily life

Food never tastes better than after a long day of backpacking. Activities as small as sitting down to rest or putting on a fresh pair of socks can elicit real joy. Aspects of the front country that were once regularities are suddenly luxuries. Overtime a true love for the outdoors can develop. Youth development of appreciation for the beauty of nature and begin to see every beautiful thing to be grateful for in each day.

Trails Carolina helps through wilderness therapy

Trails Carolina is a leader in wilderness therapy for pre-teens and teens ages 10 to 17. Our effective programs can help your child face their challenges and reach their full potential during this crucial time of youth development.
Call Trails Carolina today at 800-975-7303 for more information on our how our wilderness therapy program has helped other teens through difficult times.

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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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