Summer’s Coming…Should You Send Your Child to Boot Camp?

Posted April 16, 2008 by

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Last year, a friend of mine sent her out-of-control teenage son to a well-respected, accredited wilderness camp for the summer, where he apparently thrived. And when he got back, things were great at home—for about a week. “In about 2 weeks he turned back into the same old Drew– if possible, he has even been worse,” she told me. Sad to say, this is not unsurprising. Many experts agree that boot camps, which typically last anywhere from a week to 30 days (and can cost $5,000-$10,000) do not offer long term benefits because of their short duration. The advice from professionals? If you’re considering this for your child this summer, have a plan in place–and stick to it–when your son or daughter comes back home. This will help keep your child (and your entire family) on track, and to support the experience kid has in boot camp or on a wilderness trip.


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. Kerease Report

    As a foster parent and owner of a company that works with teens in crisis we took our lead from Project Challenge in Az. Programs tend to concentrate on the needs of the child and work intensively to change their thinking – BUT – as we all know any problem is not 100% the fault of only one person. While the child is receiving intensive counseling, who is working with the parents, typically no one. Parents get real – it is a family problem, the WHOLE family needs intensive counseling to pull back together successfully – it didn’t happen overnight – it doesn’t get fixed overnight, but it can be fixed if you are ready to really pull out all the stops and work – t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r one step at a time.

  2. mrs. K Report

    my 14 yr.old son was out of control and the natural consequence was that he had to leave due to disrespect, lying, anger, playing noting but video games. underneath it all was a scared boy who was making a big transition from 8th grade to a much larger high school and troube between my husband and my self, hormonal changes etc. but he refused to talk about things and that refusal is what got him into more trouble emotionally and then behavorially. We researched and with the help of a very good educational consultant sent him to SUWS of the Carolina’s. A very well run wilderness therapy camp. We did have a plan upon his “graduation” and in fact that was one of the things the people at SUWS of C really said was important and worked to help us with. my one suggestion would be for programs like SUWS to know the types of schools and programs out there where the kids who have graduated have gone and been successful.

  3. Andy Report

    We sent our son to boot camp last summer, and you’re right–you need a plan in place for when they get home, or it all goes down the toilet.



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