Wilderness Therapy: Burn to learn, feel better, and thrive

A Wilderness Therapy Program’s Affect On Teen Perspective and Well-being

When students arrive in wilderness therapy they begin a process of discovery about who they are and what they are capable of. Their bodies begin to align with the cycle of the sun leading to improved amounts and quality of sleep. They begin to eat better, adapting to foods that are nutrient dense and largely plant based. And they move…a lot. Whether it’s tossing a Frisbee in the field outside our main office at Trails or backpacking several miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains over the course of an expedition, it is impossible for students to ignore the positive effects of exercise.

Activity in Wilderness Therapy

Research shows mood-enhancement within five minutes of beginning activity. And over longer periods of time, consistent activity has been proven effective in reducing depression and anxiety. When you consider this along with the knowledge that if one member of a family is depressed or anxious it is likely others may be as well, you have the perfect argument for whole families to engage in activity.
It is easy to students and families to leave wilderness therapy and become distracted by the needs of the day with school, sports, or even a family therapy session squeezed in before dinner. Even with well constructed transition plans that support family activity, it may become lost in the fray. This is especially true when we approach busy fall and winter seasons with big holidays and breaks in routine. So, here, in celebration of beautiful fall weather and the impending holiday season are a few ideas for staying active as a family for better mood, communication, grades, and fitness.

  • Sign up for a local race. This time of year there are tons of “turkey trots” and “resolution runs” to be enjoyed whether you walk or run.
  • Step it up with a healthy competition. Pedometers are cheap and easy to come by. Whoever walks the most steps in a day is off the hook for dishes.
  • Inspire each other from a distance by sharing discoveries from morning walks or athletic events in letters, phone calls, or texts.
  • Challenge family members to fun, low key physical pursuits by organizing a group hike while together for holiday visits

What works for you and your family?

Trails Wilderness Therapy Program

If you are searching for the right wilderness therapy program for your teenage son or daughter, please call us at 1-800-975-7303 to speak with an admissions person.
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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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