Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Experiential Learning & Accredited Academics

Creating An Environment For Academic Success

Unlike other wilderness programs where academics are only “in the field”, we believe in the value of a more traditional classroom environment back at base camp.

When the student transitions from wilderness expedition to base camp, they will engage in several academic programs that will allow them to practice their newfound skills in a different environment with new team members.

Many of our students come to Trails after facing struggles and frustrations at school.  Attending a therapeutic boarding school complete with wilderness and adventure activities allows for significant progress to be made for these students. It is also beneficial that students practice in a classroom environment so they are more easily able to adapt to their home classroom after their time at Trails.

92% of families with students ages 14-17 that initially reported being disobedient in schoolobserved improvements in behavior between starting Trails Carolina and one year post-graduation.

Accredited Academics & Experiencial Education

Trails has a Cognia (formerly known as AdvancEd (SACS)) accredited academic program, enabling students to transfer credits back home. Plus, there are proven benefits to bringing students into a more traditional classroom setting while in a therapeutic environment. Adding a personalized classroom environment helps our students achieve success and practice their new skills in a school setting.

Our academic curriculum is integrated into the overall therapeutic approach of Trails, allowing each student to see learning with “new eyes” and practice the strategies they’ve learned in the wilderness and other environments. Many of our students have struggled with school refusal, poor grades, or other disciplinary issues.

Sometimes this academic struggle is a reflection of other behavioral issues, poor effort, or a curriculum ill-suited to their learning style. We work closely with each child to help them achieve academic success. Our goal is to meet the child “where they are at” in their academic journey and instill an interest in growth and development.


Integrated Academics

Daily lessons are focused on personal wellness topics (nutrition, stress, sleep, etc.), earth science (weather, water, soil, etc.), history, and language arts. Literature selections correlate with broad themes at Trails Carolina (rites of passage and the hero’s quest/journey), and students are encouraged to make personal connections and critically review diverse materials.

school work

Working With A Certified Teacher

At Trails, your child will work with a certified teacher. All of our certified teachers have experience working with exceptional students who have unique learning needs.

While most therapeutic programs don’t offer accredited academics, we believe it is vital to the long-term success of each student to overcome any frustration, lack of motivation, or underperformance they may be facing in the classroom.

Our goal is to provide an experiential classroom environment that reinvigorates students’ appreciation for education, renews confidence in their ability to learn, and prepares them to reenter their home classroom as critical learners.

Additionally, students learn to take inventory of their learning styles and how to be advocates for their own learning.


Earning School Credit

Trails Carolina is accredited by Cognia (formerly known as AdvancEd (SACS)) and is registered with the State of North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction.

While enrolled at Trails, students complete an academic curriculum designed to enhance their overall understanding of their time at Trails and to keep their minds conditioned to return to school after completing the program.

Once middle school and high school students have been enrolled at Trails for a minimum of 50 days, they will receive a transcript issued by Trails Carolina that recognizes work completed in the following subjects:

  • Adventure Education (P.E.) = 1.0 credits

  • Health & Wellness = 0.5 credits

  • World Literature = 0.5 credits

  • Appalachian History = 0.5 credits

  • Environmental Studies = 0.5 credits

  • TOTAL 3.0 credits

help for troubled youth

Hands-On Lessons From Custom-Designed Citizen Science Field Studies

The classroom curriculum at Trails Carolina includes hands-on lessons from our proprietary citizen science field studies.

Our Naturalist, Science Steve, leads the program, employing a collection of creatures such as reptiles, amphibians, chickens, fish, insects, arachnids, and opossums to inspire connections between these often misunderstood animals and our students.

The Trails Science program also works to introduce students to functional energy conservation and education projects such as our classroom solar array built by previous students over several years.

This array serves to generate much of the electricity that is used to operate the Trails Science classroom and tend to the animal habitats.

Our students often build strong, lasting bonds with our friendly education animals that both assist with the student’s therapy, and serve to foster lasting respect, love, and ethics toward wildlife in our graduates.

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

Meet Some Of Our Dedicated Teachers

Robin Lively - Trails Carolina

Robin Lively Summers

Certified Teacher

With her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University and her certification and experience as an Art Educator in North Carolina, Robin works to adapt her teaching style based on each student's needs. She is passionate about developing highly effective, quality education programs that help each student on their path to success.


Steve O'Neil

Ecology Specialist

In addition to his studies in wildlife and fisheries management, recreational management and zooarchaeology in college, Steve brings 25+ years of experience working in wildlife conservation and education. He works to inspire connections between these misunderstood animals and our often misunderstood students.

Get started today

Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family

Contact Us LP

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