Teenage Boot Camps, Wilderness Programs and Military Schools: Are They Effective?

by Sara Bean, M.Ed.
Teenage Boot Camps, Wilderness Programs and Military Schools: Are They Effective?

When you have a defiant, out-of-control teen, the idea of sending him to a boot camp or wilderness experience program can sound attractive—and also scary. Perhaps you’ve heard some amazing stories, with claims of wildly successful, life-saving results. On the other hand, you’ve probably also heard the horror stories: allegations of abuse and mistreatment that have, in some tragic cases, resulted in injury and death. This, coupled with the fact that sending your child away is heartbreaking and difficult, makes it the hardest decision a parent ever has to make.

“Your child isn’t a digital camera that you can mail away and get fixed and returned to you in working order. You have to change the dynamic within your family if you want to see results.”

Parents often call the Parental Support Line and ask, “What do you think about boot camps and military schools? Are they effective?” The truth is, that’s a tough question for us to answer because there’s very little independent research on what are collectively called “troubled teen programs.” What it really comes down to is that in general, these programs get very mixed results.

Related: A parenting program that allows you to work with your child in your own home.

This article deals with military schools, boarding schools, reform schools, boot camps, wilderness camps and other troubled teen programs intended as an intervention for troubled youths and their families. These programs differ from in-patient substance abuse programs or mental health facilities where children and teens who may be a risk to themselves or others get treatment for addictions and serious mental illnesses. More intensive treatment programs, as well as programs that are reserved for foster children or wards of the state, will not be discussed here.

Boot camps and Military Schools: Are They Safe?

Allegations of abuse, neglect or improper management tend to be associated with programs that are not licensed by the state in which they operate, or accredited by any sort of national accreditation organization. If you are considering sending your child or teen to one of these programs, remember that essentially there’s no oversight or accountability without accreditation or licensure—and even if the program is accredited, this isn’t an insurance policy against human error and poor judgment. In other words, no program is perfect. Be sure to have a good, clear understanding of both the benefits and the risks associated with any program that you’re considering.

Here are some guidelines for choosing a program for your child:

1. Accreditation and licensure: First and foremost, make sure the program is accredited by an accreditation agency such as the Joint Commission (JACHO) or the Council of Accreditation (COA). You should also make sure the program is licensed in the state in which it operates.

2. Is it appropriate? Make sure the program and its methods are appropriate for your child and will meet his or her needs. If you are not certain what your child's needs are, work with a local professional who can help you understand, such as your child's physician, school guidance counselor, or mental health professional. Their evaluation can help you better understand your child’s needs. If your child has other health concerns, such as asthma, diabetes or allergies, for example, make sure the program understands his medical issues and will be able to make appropriate accommodations.

Wilderness programs may be more likely to fall into the category of relying on natural consequences to teach kids in a very literal way. So for example, if your child refuses to make a fire, he’ll be cold, or if he doesn’t build proper shelter, he’ll sleep in the rain. This approach doesn’t always have the desired results for every child. Before sending your teen or pre-teen to wilderness camp, ask yourself this question, “Would my child actually benefit from having more structure, with tangible rewards and consequences?”

3. A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach: Look for a program that offers a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-based curriculum. While some boot camps or schools may not offer counseling, often a defiant or acting-out adolescent can really benefit from behavioral therapy to teach him the skills he needs to change his behavior. The National Institute of Justice did a research study that indicated that the most effective programs use Cognitive Behavioral Theory as an approach to counseling which focuses on changing faulty thinking as well as behavior. While many programs include or even require therapy, they might not use behavior modification, which is the approach of The Total Transformation Program and what is recommended as being most effective.

4. Victims of abuse: Understand that boot camps are not appropriate for children or teens who have been victims of abuse of any kind. Research shows that this type of environment causes increased stress in this population of children. If your child has suffered abuse, consult with a mental health professional to find the appropriate treatment for him.

5. Is it personalized? Find out whether or not the program you’re considering is personalized. The National Institute of Justice suggests that programs are more effective when they take into account your child’s individual learning style, personality and behavioral characteristics. If the program is personalized and doesn’t simply operate by a cookie cutter standard—if it’s geared toward unique needs in the individual in some way—it will probably be more successful. If you’re afraid you don’t have a full understanding of your child’s needs, it’s a good idea to consult with a local professional who knows your child, such as a school counselor or a therapist, for example, and ask for input.

7. Get references: Ask for references from the troubled teen program you can check or contact. Are there parents you can contact and speak to whose children have been through the program already? You want to get those references and call them; ask everything you can think of to get a really clear picture of how the camp or school operates and what their child’s experience with the program has been like—even after their child returned home.

8. Ask for proof of success and credentials: Ask the contact person at any program to provide you with evidence of success. Get proof that their program works, that the staff possesses appropriate credentials and has adequate training and supervision to successfully perform the interventions used by the program.

When Your Child Comes Home: Can You Expect Good Behavior to Continue?

Many parents call the Support Line and say, “I sent my daughter to a wilderness program last summer. She had an amazing experience, but within the first week of being home, her bad behavior was back. I broke the bank sending her there. What should I do now?”

Contrasted with the regimented schedule your child experienced in a camp or at school, back home, within the chaos of everyday life, no single day is exactly like another. Things come up, parents get stuck at work, schedules are hectic and varying. And unlike a wilderness camp or military school, there are usually only one or two adults in charge—and as we all know, ample outside distractions for most teens. The bottom line is that any positive changes made in the unique setting of a troubled teen program can be very difficult to maintain in the home. After all, how can you turn your house into a military school or boot camp?

I believe that most parents can benefit from education and training while their child is away. So ask yourself these questions: “What tools from the troubled teen program can I use at home? What skills do I need as a parent to ensure a successful transition for our child when she comes back home? How can we maintain the progress that has been made?” It’s really important that parents and families are part of this process and that there is support and consultation available for you once your child is back. Look for a program that involves parents and siblings and that provides parent training or family therapy.

Why Do Troubled Teen Programs Fail?

Why do some programs fail to teach kids how to change their behavior? In some cases, there’s a lack of adequate training and support for families and parents. The program you choose should do a follow-up meeting or phone call with you a few months after your child comes home to see how things are going, and it should provide you with more assistance if needed. A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program like The Total Transformation is also a good way to learn skills as a parent and set up a structure for your child when he or she comes home.

Many times, parents send their kids away thinking that they’ll be fixed by the boot camp or school. They’re surprised when they come home and fall back into old patterns. But think about this common expression: “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to be different.” Not only does your child need to undergo some kind of change, you as a parent need to change your approach as well if you want to see a successful outcome. Again, you need to have a structure in place when your child gets home from the school or camp, whether it’s something recommended by the program or The Total Transformation Program. Remember, your child isn’t a digital camera that you can mail away and get fixed and returned to you in working order. You have to change the dynamic within your family if you want to see results. That’s why the family therapy treatments that take place with the child in the home are recognized by many experts as being most effective.

Deciding to place your child in a troubled teen program is always a very personal choice that you should make on your own and/or with the support of a local professional who knows your family and your child. We strongly encourage parents to take their time and do some research and really dig deep into the inner workings of several programs if you decide to go that route. Have your list of questions ready. Do not be afraid to ask these organizations to provide proof of their claims, proof of the results they’ve obtained, proof of staff credentials, proof of life insurance and accreditation. And remember: have that plan in place for when your child comes home.

Other Resources:

The Federal Trade Commission published a really helpful consumer guide called, Considering a Private Residential Treatment Program for a Troubled Teen: Questions for Parents and Guardians to Ask. It gives a great list of questions to ask when you’re considering entering your child into a troubled teen program. I would strongly encourage any parent considering a military school, reform school, boot camp, wilderness camp or any similar program to refer to this guide as early as possible and follow the suggestions provided.


Enter your email address to receive our FREE
weekly parenting newsletter.

Sara A. Bean, M.Ed. holds a Masters Degree in Education with a concentration in School Counseling from Florida Atlantic University. She is a Certified School Counselor and a proud aunt to a 5 year-old girl. She has been with Legacy Publishing since 2009 working on the Parental Support Line. Sara has over 5 years of experience working with youth and families in private homes, residential group homes, and schools.

READER'S COMMENTS

* Note from the Editor: We’re hoping to encourage a dialogue about Boot Camps, Military Schools and Wilderness Programs with this article, but our goal isn't to offer recommendations or commentary on specific facilities. We welcome your comments, but ask that you not mention the names of particular facilities or programs. We will publish comments with those names removed. Thank you.

Comment By : Elisabeth Wilkins, Editor

We decided military high school was best for our son as he was entering the ninth grade. I sent him out-of-state because I did not want him returning every weekend to his group of undesirable friends that he had recently collected. In short, as he was entering 9th grade, he had begun smoking pot, lying constantly and was choosing undesirable friends. We felt that if we did not intervene, he would likely go down the wrong path at a critical time. He had always been defiant and was considered extremely smart but a pain to have in the classroom. We tried lots of counseling, different schools....we were running out of options and not seeing progress. He finished his junior year at the military academy yesterday. He has a 3.5 gpa, and has been selected to participate in the leadership of the school during his senior year. Is all good and wonderful now? No. He continues to smoke pot, and while I don't allow it in our home - hopefully he'll grow out of this stage before he gets in trouble with the law. He does not smoke at school. But s l o w l y, I am seeing progress. There is no magic bullet that is going to change your child. But I think it is important to place him/her in the best environment that will provide an opportunity for success. In spite of my son's intellect, he would have failed at any of the local private or public schools. He needed a sargeant in his face - - and the military staff still struggle with him at times. Today he is thankful that we sent him to military high school especially since most of the crowd he was hanging with are now in trouble with the law frequently. I must add a warning - quality military academies are very expensive. Between transportation, books, housing, etc., the cost has been $35,000 per school year. We took out loans and did it - and we'll be paying them back for a long time. But I would rather pay the school and give him the best chance...than pay the lawyers that we were likely going to face without intervention. He did get a high quality education at the school and made friends from all over the world.

Comment By : sunnyfl

Our unsuccessful experience with a very large, highly regarded military school in Indiana was that they get irritated that parents think they are a place that is willing and able to straighten out their unruly kids. Our ADHD son got expelled after two weeks of their summer program, not for doing anything particularly bad, but due to his defiance and not being able to fit in. They only want picture perfect, hardworking kids who can easily adapt to their standards. They absolutely do not want and have no desire to work with any "defiant, uncontrollable teens." They also did not want to administer his ADHD meds and told us that had they been aware that he was on a controlled substance (Ritalin) they would never have admitted him in the first place.

Comment By : Misinformed Mom

I am a state government fiscal analyst and one of the programs that I oversee is the a program that is affiliated with a branch of the U.S. Military. The state pays for this program along with federal matching funds. I have witnessed several young men and women that participated in this program and each one has testified in front of legislators and other state officials that this boot camp style program changed their lives. This is a voluntary program, but it basically teaches life skills, classroom work, teamwork, and confidence to follow a task through to the end. Although this program doesn't graduate 100% of the participants in each class, the young men and women that do graduate go on to start their own businesses, enter college or the military, and complete their GED education. No program is 100% effective, but from my personal experience with this program, most of the participants come out of the program with life skills and goals that they didn't have before they entered the program.

Comment By : Jay

My daughter spent 10 months in a facility for troubled teens - not quite as intense as the programs listed above. While it did save her life in an immediate sense and taught her about self-control and consequences, the real changes had to happen at home. My husband was a distant, angry and highly critical parent. I was submissive and naive. We both had to re-learn how to parent, to be compassionate and yet firm in our expectations. My daughter did slip back into past behaviors from time to time, but has progressed overall. It's been two years since she's been home and it's been a roller coaster. But she is drug and alchohol free, sex free, and deals with the consequences of her actions in a responsible manner. The facility is responsible for about 1/3 of her success, Total Transformation another 1/3, and our religious values the final 1/3. A winning combination.

Comment By : lwreyes

Why not have the public schools work programs that have more fortunate kids work with less fortunate in many ways of school and athletic to give each a sense of reality. If schools took the time to do this, much discipline could be avoided and positives would begin or at least, sensitivity and sharing

Comment By : momamouse

I am a proud parent of a daughter who graduated from a program in Virginia; there are other states with this program. This is a program affiliated with a branch of the U.S. Military for youth 16-18yrs at risk of not completing or being put out of High School, must drug test clean and no court cases pending. She got a long-term suspension from high school. She was very manipulative and got into trouble all by herself there was no one else to blame. She had been on lock down all her teen years, due to her behaviour she never got to to the "high school" things. I had her evaluated a couple of years earlier and they medicated for anxiety and depression. (this program makes sure the teens are on their prescribed medication). It taught her life skills and she got her GED the first time she took it. She had been an average student, but there was more in her. She did not excel in the leadership aspect of the program either. She came out at 16 1/2 yrs old and she was different. Then after working a job for about 10 months she joined the Army National Guard Reserves. She comes home in 2 weeks from her job training, she is now 18. I don't know what we would have done without this program. The people that worked there were completely awesome too.

Comment By : LJ1409

I would be interested to know if the author has been in the military. My guess is no since there seems to be a tinge of bias against it. I agree it is not a magic bullet, I agree it is not a good option to fix disturbed kids. However, if you have kids that are pretty good kids and just need a little more focus, discipline, and confidence, and you send them to a quality organization, then I think you will see positive results. I think it is key for parents to make sure they explain it as a privilege and one the parents are sacrificing to make possible, not a punishment or a way to change the child. The camp we are sending our kids to is a Leadership Adventure camp, and from the scheudle of activies and the references, I believe they will get some of the positive benefits I experienced from my time in the Army- self-discipline, confindence, and sacrifice for others.

Comment By : Eugene

What an excellent article and great comments. When times were at their worst we looked into this but could not picture our kids so far away and it was not even an option when we looked at our budget. I feel more informed about the idea after reading this article. I come from many generations of military service both male and female. In my personal experience I relied greatly on my sense of maturity to process all that came my way however; I was older when I joined at 26 yrs of age. Most of my comrads were 18, 19 and had no work options in their hometowns. The service gave them work and hope for a better future. I wonder about the effectiveness with a teen in the military since the teens I know today seem unconcerned about the future at all. I am truly worried about this generation. Thank you for the article & comments, it gave much to think about.

Comment By : Julia C.

I am a proud parent of a teenager who is currently at a youth academy in CA. He is scheduled to graduate in 8 days. It is a 5 1/2 month residential program and a 1 year follow up program. Its is designed for at risk teenagers 16-19 who are at risk for dropping out of school or are credit deficiant. The program is FREE!! And the best decision I ever made. GREAT GREAT GREAT program. Through the a branch of the military, with schools throughout the US.

Comment By : llpreciado

Sending my son to a military school was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I am a single parent of three teens. When my son was in 10th grade he was asked to leave his private school because he had a smart mouth. He didn't think before he spoke. At the time he didn't drink, smoke or do drugs. I didn't want to send him to a public school because I was concerned about the neighborhood kids who were going to the local high school and were getting into big trouble. My son was definitely a follower. Because my son had a smart mouth I thought that the military school would be a good disciplined environment. The school came highly recommended and was located one state away. While he was there he picked up smoking, drinking on the weekends, and trying drugs. It has been six years since then and this has been a constant problem. The night that I drove into town to pick him up for summer break, he was being taken to the hospital for alcohol poisening. He had been drinking with a group of boys in the dorm. I never took him back to the school. I can go on and on about the repercussions of this decision, but it causes so much hurt within me. I have had counselors tell me that I made the best decision I could based on the information I had at the time, but that doesn't alleviate the guilt I feel. It was a horrible mistake!

Comment By : Ruth

We had to interrupt our son's downward spiral of drug use, negative peers and flunking grades. We are deeply grateful to our Educational Consultant who offered us hope and alternatives. After 3 months in wilderness we got our son back! We choose to then place him in a therapeutic school where he is learning life skills, getting to know his "best true self", and working hard to repair his relationship with us. We still have a way to go but we encourage anyone who must seek out of home placements to do so. Do your homework, but have hope! This past weekend our son thanked us for making these hard choices and saving his life. We are so grateful for the help we have received along this journey.

Comment By : grateful mom

If you have a good, accredited program, then they can do your child a lot of good, but the postings are right -- it's not a magic bullet. 10 months is NOT enough. Most kids who have to go into these programs need to stay through their high school years and graduate from the program. And in the meantime, PARENTS need to be doing therapy and couples counseling AT HOME to fix their own baggage, or the relationship with their kids will continue to be dysfunctional. Here's the caveat, though. The schools can teach your child the difference between right and wrong. They can teach them HOW to make the right choices. But once they turn 18, the child has to WANT to make the right choices, and that is a much tougher thing. Our daughter went through the boarding school for troubled kids until she was 19. She graduated from their program. 6 months after she came home, she was engaging in risky behavior again. So then we gave her the option of joining Job Corps (a free goverment program) or driving her down to the nearest homeless shelter. Thankfully, she chose the Job Corps. It's like the army without weapons. Very structured. Two years later, she graduated from the Job Corps. 6 months after that, she was back to risky behaviors. BUT, she is finally -- at age 22 -- STARTING to pull her head out of her nether regions are starting to make the right decisions for herself. It has taken LOTS of time, money, tough love and also luck. She's clean and sober, and a hard worker. She's had a couple of minor scrapes with the law, but she's not making the really bad choices she was making even 2 years ago. Her biggest downfall right now is still the choices she makes in men. She is almost guaranteed to pick the bad ones. So we are trying to get her involved in the young adults group in church, hoping she will surround herself with a good group of young people and maybe find a NICE young man. So she is still, at age 22, our work in progress. Every day, we pray that she will make good choices and continue on the right path. And tough love is still love. But that doesn't make it easy. We are still paying for her years at school. We will likely be paying for those for another 10 years. But if we hadn't sent her to the school we sent her to and implemented tough love, we are absolutely certain that she would be prostituting herself for drugs on the street right now. It wasn't a magic bullet. It didn't fix everything. But we've made a lot of progress, and I hope we can continue to go in a positive direction.

Comment By : Teresa

During the 1990's I was an education director for a private corporation which managed several boot camps as well as a treatment education center. The boot camps which were operated by the corporation were not as effective in resolving the problems of the adolescents sent to the camp. There were a number of incidents where boot camp employees were found to be abusive and unprofessional in their interaction with the youth. Our society is militaristic enough without subjecting troubled kids to additional abuse in institutions which are supposed to be therapeutic.

Comment By : lexi11

Hello, I am so grateful to see all of these messages. One of the problems that I have been running into are two fold. One is that we live in Alaska which has not ONE facility like the ones mentioned above, but also that I have girls. It is incredibly hard to find any facilities for girls! I also know that, as far as our case goes, the parents (I am one) need to learn how to handle and manage my two girls. I would be forever grateful if I could just FIND any place that can take girls. I have called probably more than 20 different facilities and either they do not take girls at all, or they are too young. One of the things that I am so afraid of, and I know this personally, is that any kids at these facilities---if they are a leader and a bad apple, and your child is a follower---bad things can manifest themselves. I am a leader by nature---and when I was growing up I was a bad apple, I took many kids aside at these facilites and made them worse. Thank God that I caught myself and woke up to what I was doing and saved most of them. The problem is, is that a lot of facilities---and parents---just do not understand the absolute power of peer pressure!

Comment By : Aksummer

Regarding the question provided in the original article: What tools from the troubled teen program can I use at home? Many programs incorporate a physical exercise component. Do the clients exercise to get into a mode of listening in which they have been freed from their unwillingness to make an effort, or perhaps simply as a consequence? Any thoughts on the role of this tool in a home, school, or community context? How are clients actually made to exercise in intervention programs? How is the exercise component integrated within a behavior management framework?

Comment By : Helium

Our daughter started climbing out her window at night--"But it's MY life!" when she was 13 years old. She picked the worst kids at school to be her friends. We knew that we HAD to change her peer group. Our state-funded military high school/junior college was started for kids on distant ranches, it was very affordable at 10K/year with many scholarships available. This was a great experience. Instead of druggie wanna-be's, her new peers were trying to get into the service academies, medical schools and good universities. It became cool to be a good student! The school saved our headstrong daughter, who is now a college graduate. We then sent her brother who also benefited although he wasn't the rule-stretcher that she had been. Kid going down the wrong path? CHANGE THE PEER GROUP. PEERS ARE EVERYTHING. Although our daughter was attending a top-100 public high school, her negative friend choices were derailing her. Military school changed that. Knowing that there was a 4-1 male/female ratio helped her make the decision. The low cost (state-funded)helped us enormously.

Comment By : NM Mom

We made the heart wrenching decision to send our 17 year old son to a "troubled teen" boarding school two years ago. Very defiant, lots of drinking a few drugs. At 18 they have the option of leaving. It was a mostly good school that also offered counseling, at extra cost. It was individual counseling and I believe it should have also included family conference call counseling. He only got to write once a week and calls had to be earned at an upper status. It took weeks of letters to clear things up that could have been done in 10 minutes on a phone. If you are considering this type of facility ask lots of questions, visit and call the referrences of other parents. Long story short - he still had to come home and work through the problems and us too! The family has to change. So do the friends. It is a long and relentless process for the slow change to occur. Eventually they grow up but not without the growing pains. Parents need to be open minded to change themselves also. The program is about 35k a year. Ask how long for average kid to complete. This one they said could be done in about 9 months but after talking to parents 18 months was more the norm. I don't know if I'd do it again but I sleep better now knowing that I did everything I could. He is getting better but it took coming home, moving out and then back in. At least at the program school he graduated HS. Everyone has to work the program for success.

Comment By : Been There Done That

That's right send them off for someone else to mistreat them. "Have fun with my son!" Parent thinks - "I will just sit back while you guys fix him. I had nothing to do with creating his anger." There is always loving approaches to all of these actions but it first starts in the home with a high quality parenting program. Start treating kids as we want to be treated. This article is very poor. There are many studies that prove "Boot Camps" do not work.

Comment By : True to Peace

First, I would like to thank Empowering Parents for publishing such informative articles. I am currently working in the home as an Intensive In-home Counselor and this is a question i'm faced with at least once a week, "Can you please find a boot camp for my child". I often attempt to share with the parent that the boot camp may (or may not) be effective, but, what will YOU do when he or she comes home as the boot camp doesn't come with them. Several of the youth that i work with do well in detention centers or residential treatment facilities; however, as soon as they are released they revert back to the exact same behaviors. If anybody needs to go to a camp it's the parents. We as the adults must unify and ensure that we are communicating the same message in the home, consistently. The youth simply bear the symptoms of the dynamics and dysfunction within the home. In my 8 years of working with families i have not witnessed a home where the parents were above average disciplinarians and the children were out of control. I firmly beleive that where you find Love, structure,consistency and discipline....there you will find a child that discriminates well and manages his or her behaviors appropriately. Not perfect, simply appropriate. Thanks again for the article and the opportunity to share!

Comment By : Atrebla2

* To ‘Helium’: Thank you for your question. The tools one might use at home depend on the program. The kind of tools I was referring to are those that help parents to create structure and accountability such as daily schedules, reward systems, communication techniques, and behavior management techniques such as behavior charts. My goal was not to imply that parents should be requiring physical exercise at home or using it as a consequence. I do want to be clear that we at EmpoweringParents do not recommend using exercise as a consequence for inappropriate behavior at home, nor do we recommend any physical discipline. I do not know the answers to your questions about how exercise is utilized in different programs, why, or how they get the kids to comply, etc., as the answers will surely differ from program to program. If you are considering a troubled teen program for your child that uses physical exercise, be sure to discuss these questions with someone at the program. We also suggest that if your child or teen will be started on any type of exercise program for any reason, to check with your child’s doctor first to be sure the program is appropriate for your child given his or her age, current state of health, and any known medical conditions.

Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

It would be nice if there were some possitive programs you could recomend. I have been searching for a inpatient program for my almost 17 yr old daugter.Weed is the 3yr prob..Have tried many things...I need help finding something..Something with financial aid...school..9-12 months...

Comment By : Kathy

* Kathy: Thank you for the feedback. While I understand the need for people to get some more specific guidance on this topic, I would not feel comfortable recommending specific programs without the opportunity to tour them, meet with the staff, and ask some tough questions firsthand. This would be quite a feat! I do have some ideas, however, to help you find what you are looking for. We feel it is extremely important to find a program that is capable of working effectively with your daughter’s substance abuse issues. With that in mind, here are some suggestions to try:
Visit www.drugfree.org’s Treatment Facility Locator
Visit www.theantidrug.com and call the phone number or click the link at the very top of the page to find help locally.
Call the National Drug and Alcohol Referral Helpline at 1-800-521-7128. It is available 24/7.
We wish you and your daughter luck as you continue to work through this. We know this isn’t easy. Take care.

Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor

I really do believe that engaging your child to different summer camps will have positive results on your kids behavior. They will learn to take responsibility for themselves and meet new friends. They will also build self-confidence and esteem. You may also like to view kids boot camp website.

Comment By : Divine Robert

My son is currently at a military school in Virginia and it is going very well so far. We had to do a lot of work together to get to this point. We did family counseling and he had individual and group counseling for about a year before he was ready to go to the military school. He called them himself to tell them he was ready. We had visited the year before, so he understood it was to help him, not to punish him. I completely disagree with the person who blamed parents. Our child was great until seventh grade when he met up with pot. Our other two children are also exemplary students. One is only two years younger than our son and saw his choices and went in the exact opposite direction. I'm not saying we were perfect parents; we weren't. We were certainly though there for him - driving him to select soccer, watching his games, helping him with homework, getting him evaluated for ADHD, listening to him... We really think it was a meeting of pot and his brain and we were in for a fight. He did come home at Thanksgiving and went back to his old ways, but did really well at the school and continues to do well. He likes it. I think those feelings will only increase and that success will lead to greater success. He seems to be reaching out to his dad now to brag to him about his grades, his promotions, his soccer playing again, his standardized test scores... there is much to brag about and it's a welcome change. Also, his leaving is beneficial for the whole family. We are all more relaxed. I don't worry now every time the phone rings after 9:00 p.m. that it's the police. He's only been there half a year and we have 1 year and a half left, but I have been very happy with the school. While I'm sad he's away, I know he's in a good place for him and the whole house is breathing easier, so I'm grateful for each day he's there.

Comment By : Sandy

Rate this article by clicking the stars below.

Rating: 2.7/5 (107 votes cast)

Related keywords:

teen boot camps, wilderness programs, military schools, effective parenting, send your kid away

Responses to questions posted on EmpoweringParents.com are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

We value your opinions and encourage you to add your comments to this discussion. We ask that you refrain from discussing topics of a political or religious nature. Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to respond to every question posted on our website.