Better Than A Boot Camp: Wilderness Therapy For Girls Ages 10-17
Is your daughter struggling with a behavioral or emotional challenge? Do you feel like you’ve tried everything to help her but nothing seems to be working?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, then it may be time to consider seeking outside help.
Trails Carolina offers nationally recognized wilderness therapy programs that provide struggling children and teens with immediate intervention and trauma-informed care from a team of expert mental health professionals.
At Trails Carolina, we specialize in helping children and teens who are struggling with behavioral and mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, lack of academic engagement, substance experimentation and use, low self esteem, aggression, mood disorders, and trauma/PTSD. We focus on children and teens who can benefit from individual and group therapy sessions, and our family systems approach allows for parents and siblings to benefit and learn from the process, too.
By combining the trauma-informed care of our mental health experts with therapeutic wilderness programs in the natural environment of western North Carolina, Trails can provide a better alternative to a boot camp for girls. Our program gives troubled girls the emotional safety and supportive environment needed to break self-defeating patterns and achieve the lasting success they deserve.
The Trails Carolina mission is to help your child achieve social and personal growth, develop increased self efficacy and self awareness, form healthy relationships with family and peers, improve academic performance and communication skills, and become better equipped to combat chronic stress in everyday life and overcome challenges.
The Trails promise is one of overall well being and positive change for the child and the entire family. Your child’s progress is our mission.
What will my daughter do at Trails?
When you enroll your daughter in a therapeutic wilderness program at Trails Carolina, the wilderness therapy process begins right away.
Upon arriving at the Trails Base Camp, our team of certified therapists and other mental health professionals will work with your daughter to devise a holistic, personalized treatment plan that we incorporate into every aspect of our wilderness therapy program.
At our base camp, your daughter will stay up to date on schoolwork with the guidance of an educational consultant and accredited academic programs. The experiential education that your child will receive goes beyond the classroom.
Our wilderness therapy programs for girls involve a change in the environment that will help shift the students' focus, which is often necessary for the healing process.
Your child will be removed from their familiar environment and placed in a setting specifically designed to promote healing and lasting change. Trails Carolina provides care that is unique to the typical residential treatment center or therapeutic boarding school because much of the therapeutic process that your daughter will experience at Trails takes place in a wilderness setting.
The wilderness adventure therapy programming that is included in our wilderness treatment programs can involve wilderness living, rock climbing, experiential learning, backpacking trips, and other physical activities. These adventure activities often require group effort, which provides great opportunities to learn relational dynamics and strengthen interpersonal awareness, trust, and relationship building. Physical movement and outdoor time are also proven to help those with mental health issues.
Wilderness Programs For Girls Youth Ages 10-13
In our wilderness therapy programs for girls ages 10-13, we provide a blend of therapeutic approaches, including individual and group experiential therapies designed to instill the skills and mindset needed to navigate stressful life circumstances, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and live a happy, healthy life.
The Distraction-Free Environment of Wilderness Programs
In a world full of technology and social media, girls are often exposed to unreasonable beauty standards and damaging gender expectations at a very young age. This can put pressure on them to look, act, dress, or eat a certain way in order to fit in with their peers.
However, between the young ages of 10-13, children’s brains are still developing the cognitive abilities to compartmentalize these damaging social expectations. With so many unfiltered influences, girls at this age often end up developing anxiety, depression, and/or unhealthy relationships with food or exercise.
That is why one of the major benefits of wilderness therapy is the natural, distraction-free setting. In the wilderness environment, girls do not have access to technology, mirrors, makeup, or other distractions, which allows them to focus on building resilience and growing out of the unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns that no longer serve them.
This is an ideal time for your child’s therapist and our team of field instructors to engage with your child to support her as she develops courage and self-identity.
A Positive Peer Culture
Your daughter will work with other girls of similar ages who face similar challenges.
At Trails, our teams work to create a supportive environment with a positive peer culture so that your daughter can thrive. Being surrounded by peers who can understand your daughter’s struggles can positively impact how she sees herself individually and in relationships. Group conversations focus on topics relevant to this age and steer clear of more mature topics inappropriate for younger children.
Our outstanding wilderness treatment center for focused groups helps girls thrive by establishing an emotionally strong peer environment.
Girls are typically more comfortable expressing their emotions than boys and thrive in an environment that allows for connection and support from their peers. Trails curriculum, promotes healthy expression and asks students to explore how certain situations make them feel and act.
Tailored To Meet The Developmental Needs Of Pre-Teen Girls
The programming is tailored to meet the needs of pre-teen girls while maximizing the benefits of the wilderness environment. Middle school aged girls often need concrete experiences and teachable moments that help them to practice the critical thinking, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution skills they’ll need to thrive as they enter their teenage years and young adulthood.
Students participate in activities that require them to express emotions through creative modalities and teach social skills including expressive art, story writing, and improvisational skits. After each activity, the students discuss what can be learned from the group interactions throughout it.
The middle school girls also participate in all fundamental program elements including wilderness expeditions, primitive skills workshops, individual and group therapy, accredited academics with educational consultants, experiential science classes, and equine relational programming, all tailored to meet the individual needs of each student.
During activities, therapists and staff help students set goals and stay on course, and students are encouraged to hold themselves accountable for their own actions. Our staff is specially trained to let these students be kids while teaching them skills that will help them mature into their teenage selves.
Relevant and Transferable Curriculum
This program is specifically designed to meet the demanding developmental needs of pre-teen girls in a wilderness camp environment filled with consistent routines, structure, and concrete experiences needed to create lasting behavior change.
These single-gender groups help to create the peer social environment that best facilitates therapy for students in this age group, and our Trails team also works hard to provide additional support to be sure each student feels protected, safe, and supported throughout their time with us.
Research has shown that adolescents thrive in predictable and structured environments like those in our youth wilderness therapy programs, which have been carefully crafted to support the specific developmental needs of 10-13 year old girls.
Our goal is to break the cycle of troubling behaviors and teach the skills needed for students to make responsible decisions and create healthy relationships. Our students learn to find internal motivation for change leading to lasting success that transfers to the home environment.
Wilderness Therapy Programs For Girls Ages 14-17
Getting Back On A Productive Path
Parents tell us all the time that they feel like they lost their teenage daughter and are struggling to “get them back” to restore peace to their family. These teen years can be scary for parents and difficult for teen girls as they deal with issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, trauma, emotional regulation, school failure, and substance abuse.
While in Trails’ wilderness program for teen girls ages 14-17, your daughter will be placed in a group of other girls her age facing similar challenges. Students dealing with anger, anxiety, and depression that lead to impulsivity, defiance, and substance abuse will work with a therapist who specializes in those issues.
Similarly, girls struggling with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues and expressing it through poor or few peer relationships, isolation, school refusal, and technology overuse, will work together in a group with a therapist who specializes in those issues. Our team works directly with parents to determine which group is the best fit for each student.
Growth In The Wilderness
The wilderness setting in Western North Carolina provides a powerful backdrop for healing and growth. Here both negative and positive behaviors have natural consequences.
It may sound simple, but this law of nature administered without judgment turns out to be a powerful tool that helps to instill valuable lessons. Over time, our students begin to understand and take ownership of their actions, leading to long-term success.
Teenage girls are typically able to be vulnerable and communicate their emotions, but sometimes these emotions can lead to negative behaviors when the student hasn’t developed skills to regulate and control these emotions.
Throughout your child’s time at Trails, they’ll participate in a variety of experiential activities, both in the wilderness and at our base camp. These activities are designed to trigger peak emotions, offering teaching opportunities that result in students strengthening their emotional control and self-confidence.
What are the benefits of wilderness therapy for girls?
Years of Success from Weeks of Adventure
Since the early days of wilderness therapy for girls there have been multiple studies and examples of how a program like Trails Carolina helps girls overcome challenges like:
- Self-esteem issues
- Bullying Challenges
- Oppositional Behavior
- Issues with Authority
- Struggling with self-harm
Wilderness Therapy for Girls, How does it really help?
Being in a wilderness/adventure therapy program gives your daughter the chance to reset her priorities. Removing all of the social challenges and outside influences gives our primary therapists the chance to work directly with your daughter to help boil down the real issues. Developmental ages for girls will influence their success throughout the rest of their lives.
At Trails we know there are innumerable benefits of wilderness therapy for girls, the main four we see are:
- Increased levels of perseverance, strength, and determination- This translates not just in physical pursuits, but we see a direct correlation to school work once they complete our program.
- Wilderness challenges assumptions of a girl’s abilities- Wilderness can help girls to redefine themselves and remove social constraints that would contribute to limiting behaviors.
- An Elevated level of self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment- To help safeguard against common social challenges increased levels of self-esteem and feelings of accomplishment allow girls to overcome issues like bullying and peer pressure.
- Increased ability to speak up and develop leadership skills- Wilderness programs for girls at Trails help to build strong leaders, in the field and at home.
This is a challenging time for a lot of parents, we are here to help.
Our admissions team is one phone call away and can help provide you with answers and advice that has helped hundreds of families to get their daughters back.
Get started today
Contact us today to learn how Trails Carolina can help your family
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
Being immersed in nature and away from all distractions allows for teens to have the opportunity to disconnect from the world and reconnect with themselves.
They can grow, learn, and not just survive, but thrive in the real world. Trails Carolina offers many benefits of wilderness therapy, including:
Personal, reflective growth: While at Trail Carolina, teens have the opportunity to better understand themselves.
This transformation, which takes place in the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains can help them to be better about knowing themselves, understanding others and how their actions, words, and lives can impact others.
In the wilderness, these teens are allowed to take a step back, reflect and see the world from another’s point of view without any distractions.
Transferable life skills: Not only do teens learn hard such as how to pitch a tent, how to build and keep a fire going, as well as how to navigate through the wilderness, they also learn valuable life lessons which are transferable to the real world. Some of these include leadership, teamwork, respect, responsibility, and self-awareness.
Individualized therapeutic and academic programming: Individualized therapeutic programming is the crux of why Trails Carolina works so well. When the academics and therapy are specific to an individual, it creates an environment that is personalized which enhances learning.
Teens struggling with defiance may have different therapeutic methods for dealing with this than other teens who may be struggling with different problems such as anxiety.
Family-focused programming: One of the ultimate goals of Trails Carolina is helping to repair the family unit. While their son or daughter is away in the wilderness, some programs offer family therapy sessions that help both the parents and the siblings work through problems which the family has been struggling with.
When the focus is brought back to the family, it can ensure lasting change when the child transitions home from a therapeutic program.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
If your son or daughter is struggling with behavioral, emotional, or mental health issues like defiance, anxiety, or depression and it has started to impact their day to day lives, now is the time to examine possible options for treatment for your teen.
Wilderness therapy programs, which are inpatient mental health treatment programs, can help child or teen explore what is troubling them, why they are acting out, and how they can better relate to their family and friends.
Removing teens from their hectic lives, technology, peers, bad habits, distractions, and influences is one of the many reasons why wilderness therapy programs work.
The best wilderness therapy programs offer an array of therapeutic techniques including, but not limited to equine relational programming, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and mindfulness techniques.
Wilderness therapy programs accept students on a case by case basis. The selection usually depends upon the clinical programing of wilderness therapy programs and the behaviors exhibited by a potential student.
Some programs may accept teens dealing with more clinically complex issues while others chose to focus on students with more easily managed difficulties.
That being said, most all wilderness therapy programs provide therapeutic programming for struggling teens with behavior problems and emotional difficulties including:
Neurodevelopmental Disorders- These include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Nonverbal Learning Disorder, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
School refusal- Many teens entering wilderness therapy programs are struggling with school refusal problems. Which is why wilderness therapy programs are great for treating teens who refuse school, who are frequently truant, or even suspended.
Substance experimentation or use– While most wilderness therapy programs deal with substance abuse in some degree, there are some wilderness therapy programs which are specified to help treat teens who are struggling with substance use issues, whether that be alcohol or marijuana use.
Defiance– Whether this is disruptive behavior in school and at home, wilderness therapy programs can help get to the root of these problems and address these issues in teens. This may also include Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
Anxiety– Social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder can be crippling for teens. It inhibits their functionality around peers, in the classroom, at work and with their family. Many wilderness programs provide help for teens struggling with some form of anxiety.
Depression– Depression can be tough, especially with teens which is why wilderness therapy programs offer therapeutic help to teens who are struggling with this.
We offer programs designed for pre-teens ages 10-13 and adolescents ages 13-17. Our clinically proven methods work exceptionally well with:
- Family conflict
- Low self-esteem
- Social isolation
- Suicide ideation
- Defiant behavior/Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Gaming and technology obsession
- Substance abuse
- Attachment issues
- Manipulative behavior
- Poor academic achievement
- Learning differences
- School refusal
- Mood dysregulation
- Autism (high functioning)
We are passionate about helping students overcome challenges and reach their full potential, and committed to creating the most effective wilderness therapy program possible for students and their families. Our entire team is honored to dedicate their professional lives to changing the lives of troubled teens.
The average stay at our wilderness therapy program is 70-90 days.
Trails Carolina is not a traditional summer camp. Instead, it is a wilderness therapy program that is designed to help at-risk youth overcome challenges and build the skills needed to achieve long-term success.
The program combines traditional therapeutic interventions with outdoor activities and wilderness experiences, such as hiking, camping, and team-building exercises, to create a unique and immersive experience.
Students at Trails Carolina receive individualized care and attention, with small group sizes and personalized treatment plans.
Our program is offered year-round! The program is typically longer than a summer camp and can last from several weeks to several months, depending on the needs and progress of each student and family.
While participants in Trails Carolina can benefit from the same sense of adventure and connection to nature that is often associated with summer camps, the program is specifically designed to provide therapeutic interventions and support for at-risk youth.
After graduating from our wilderness treatment center, students will typically transition back home or to a step down type residential program (Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center, as examples).
Parents have multiple weekly touchpoints at the program. There is a separate program specifically designed for the involvement of the family.
We also provide in-person opportunities during a student’s time at trails for families to get on campus and do work with their child. We have some of the highest-rated family services within the industry.
91% of students showed improvement in extremely significant symptoms of depression, 12 months after graduation.
Learn more: Does wilderness therapy work?
91% of students showed improvement in extremely significant symptoms of anxiety, 12 months after graduation.
Learn more: Treatment For Anxiety In Teens: How Wilderness Therapy Can Help
79% of students reported experiencing a decrease in suicidal thoughts, 12 months after graduation.