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 is 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.