Therapeutic Boarding School

Helping Students Achieve Academic Success

Creating An Environment For Academic Success & Positive School Experiences

Many students who come to us face challenges such as mental health challenges, behavioral issues, or emotional struggles that hinder their academic performance.

For some, the pressures and difficulties of traditional school environments can take a toll on their overall well-being. And for others, school has become a place where they feel incapable of succeeding, leading them to avoid it altogether.

Whether students encounter difficulties in specific subjects, face bullying, or struggle to thrive in large academic settings, our therapeutic residential treatment programs can help.


Unlike other wilderness programs that may limit academics to the field, or teen boarding schools where experiential education is often lacking, our approach is comprehensive. We offer a unique therapeutic boarding school experience, combining hands-on, outdoor therapeutic activities with a supportive classroom environment that mimics the traditional school setting to foster significant progress and help students create positive school experiences that ignite their belief in their abilities and inspire them to take action toward their goals.

By creating an environment that combines accredited academics and experiential education with individualized treatment plans created by certified and compassionate mental health professionals, our therapeutic wilderness program empowers troubled boys and girls ages 10-17 to not only thrive academically but also develop the confidence, resilience, and practical life skills necessary for lasting success.

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.

Our Students Maintain Academic Progress After Returning Home

At Trails Carolina, we use wilderness therapy transitions to prepare students to meet change with confidence and grace.

As our students transition from wilderness expeditions to base camp where our therapeutic schools are located, and then back again, they engage in various accredited academic courses designed to reinforce their new coping skills and knowledge in different environments with new team members, which helps them build resilience and confidence.

Through achieving academic success, graduating high school, attending college, and finding fulfilling careers, our students can gain a newfound sense of accomplishment and belief in their abilities.

Our Approach To Academics & Experiencial Education

Our classes are typically far more interactive than a traditional public school, private school, or boarding school setting. Our approach is comprehensive, with teachers, wilderness staff, and clinicians all reinforcing key lessons and knowledge in creative ways beyond the classroom. As students achieve success in one area at Trails, we find that helps them achieve in other areas and improve their overall potential and academic success.

We take advantage of the immersion nature of our program that allows us to integrate topics taught in academics in a variety of other ways throughout a given day. The lessons and experiences our students have in other aspects of our program also become applicable in many of their academic lessons as well.

Accredited Academics at Trails Carolina

While some 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.

Academic accreditation serves as a mark of distinction, assuring students, parents, and educational institutions that our therapeutic boarding school meets or exceeds established educational standards.

The curriculum at Trails uses a Cognia (formerly known as AdvancEd (SACS)) accredited academic program, enabling students to earn transferable middle school or high school academic credit. By aligning our accredited academic curriculum with state and national academic standards and requirements, we ensure that our students receive an education that is not only academically rigorous but also prepares them for the academic challenges and expectations they may encounter in their schools back home.

school work
How is the academic curriculum integrated with therapeutic activities?

Integrating Academics with Our Therapeutic Approach

The best therapeutic boarding schools integrate academics and therapeutics in a way that increases the benefits of both. At Trails, we go beyond the traditional academic approaches of a public school, private school, or residential boarding school by seamlessly integrating our academic curriculum with our therapeutic approach.

We facilitate collaboration between our licensed therapists and educators. By working hand in hand, therapists and educators integrate therapeutic strategies within the academic curriculum.

For example, incorporating art therapy or music therapy into an academic lesson can be therapeutic and mentally invigorating. This collaboration allows us to address the emotional and behavioral aspects of our students' challenges while promoting academic success and creating a holistic and immersive learning experience.

This approach enables our students to develop a deeper understanding of themselves, strengthen their coping skills, and enhance their overall well-being while excelling academically.

How are individual learning needs addressed?

Individualized Treatment and Personalized Lessons

Our goal is to meet the child “where they are at” in their academic journey and instill an interest in growth and development. To address these differences, we develop comprehensive individualized treatment plans for each student, which take into account how best each student learns.

By integrating our academic curriculum into the overall therapeutic approach of our wilderness therapy program, we allow each student to see learning with “new eyes” and practice the strategies they’ve developed in the wilderness and other environments across multiple settings.


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

Experiential Education at Trails Carolina

Throughout our wilderness therapy transitions cycle, we guide our students out of the residential treatment center base camp to engage in outdoor activities and therapeutic interventions that promote personal growth, self-reflection, and skill development. The therapeutic outdoor activities include hiking, camping, and equine therapy, as well as leadership and teamwork activities. These activities provide students with hands-on learning experiences, promote self-discovery, and encourage healthy risk-taking.

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.

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.

What types of experiential learning opportunities are offered?

Examples of Our Experiential Learning Activities & Their Benefits

  • Outdoor Skills Development: Students at Trails Carolina learn essential outdoor skills such as navigation, campfire-building, and how to recognize body cues to avoid dehydration and low energy. These skills not only promote self-sufficiency but also teach students problem-solving, critical thinking, and adaptability. Key Benefit: Hands-On Learning, Skill Development, Holistic Approach to Education
  • Team-Building and Leadership Exercises: Trails Carolina incorporates team-building exercises to foster collaboration, communication, and leadership skills. These activities encourage students to work together with their peer groups, delegate responsibilities, and develop effective leadership qualities. Key Benefit: Social and Emotional Growth, Skill Development
  • Equine Therapy: Therapy Equine-assisted therapy is a key component of Trails Carolina's experiential education model. Through interactions with horses, students learn empathy, responsibility, and effective communication, all while experiencing the therapeutic benefits of working with animals. Key Benefit: Social and Emotional Growth, Skill Development


Students at Trails Carolina engage in therapeutic creative activities.
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.

Working With A Certified Teacher & Subject Expert

At Trails, your child will work with a certified teacher and subject-area experts. All of our educators have experience working with exceptional students who have unique learning needs and behavioral or emotional problems.

Our educators are committed to creating a supportive learning environment where all students feel safe, respected, and valued. They understand the unique challenges students face and provide the necessary guidance and encouragement to help them succeed academically.

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

Trails Carolina can also connect you with an educational consultant to help sift through the best therapeutic boarding schools or transitional programs after completing one of our programs. Learn more about the benefits of an educational consultant.

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.

Meet Some Of Our Dedicated Educators

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.

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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



Therapeutic boarding schools are specialized educational institutions that provide a structured and supportive environment for students facing emotional, behavioral, or academic challenges.

These therapeutic schools combine therapeutic interventions with academic programs to help students develop essential life skills, achieve academic success, and foster personal growth.

Yes! At Trails Carolina, we offer a therapeutic boarding school designed to provide a structured and supportive environment that caters to the unique needs of students with ADHD. Each student receives an individualized treatment plan and strategies to help them manage their ADHD symptoms.

Additionally, our licensed therapists work with our certified educators to incorporate therapeutic interventions, such as counseling and behavioral therapy, which can further assist students in developing coping mechanisms and improving their focus and attention in the school setting.

Yes, we offer a nurturing and structured environment where struggling boys and girls can receive individual and group therapy, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and develop strategies to manage their depressive symptoms.

The integration of academic and therapeutic programs in our therapeutic boarding school helps our students address their emotional needs while receiving a quality education that helps them stay on track or improve academically while receiving comprehensive treatment for their depression.

Trails Carolina's therapeutic boarding school is well-suited to support pre-teen and teenage boys and girls with anxiety. We create a nurturing and therapeutic learning environment where students can receive specialized care for their anxiety while engaging in accredited academics.

Our trained professionals work closely with students to develop personalized strategies for managing anxiety, teaching relaxation techniques, and building resilience. Our structured routine, smaller class sizes, and individualized support help reduce anxiety triggers commonly found in traditional school settings.

Yes, Trails Carolina is an excellent fit for children with learning disabilities and learning differences. Our therapeutic boarding school has specialized academic programs and experienced educators who understand the unique challenges these students face. We offer individualized learning plans tailored to each student's specific needs, enabling them to thrive academically.

Our inclusive and supportive environment fosters self-confidence, self-advocacy, and the development of essential skills. At Trails Carolina, we provide accommodations, interventions, and a community that understands and supports students with learning differences, ensuring they have the tools and resources they need to succeed academically and personally.

Yes! The curriculum at Trails uses a Cognia (formerly known as AdvancEd (SACS)) accredited academic program, enabling students to earn transferable middle school or high school academic credit.

We understand the significance of aligning our accredited academics with state or national academic standards and requirements.

This alignment ensures that our students receive an education that is not only academically rigorous but also prepares them for the academic challenges and expectations they may encounter beyond their time at Trails Carolina.

Our program is more than a school for troubled boys and troubled girls. Trails Carolina is a therapeutic boarding school that offers a unique wilderness and adventure experiential education curriculum. We serve youth ages 10-13 and teenage boys and teenage girls ages 14-17.