Parents looking for a quick fix usually choose troubled teen camps. There are two types of teen camps: boot camps and summer or wilderness camps. They usually last from one to six weeks, and while teens may shows signs of improvement for days or even weeks after coming home, they often revert back to old behaviors after the fear of authority disappears.
Boot camps are military-style facilities that use discipline, military exercises, rigorous physical training, and fear of authority to transform a troubled teen into a “good soldier” who follows rules. Unfortunately, most boot camps do not address underlying emotional or behavioral problems. Without therapy or behavior modification, long-term effectiveness is limited. If parents do chose to send their troubled teen to a boot camp, the best chance for long-term success is to follow it with a treatment program.
Wilderness camps are usually seen as an alternative to boot camps. Instead of the aggressive approach that boot camps tend to use, wilderness camps are more likely to be behavior modification programs with a component of the program held outdoors. They remove urban distractions so troubled teens can reconnect accept responsibility for their choices. Because these wilderness camps are generally held in summer, they may not include an academic component. There are a few that do, though, which is especially important for teens who have fallen behind during the school year.
The biggest benefit to wilderness camps as opposed to boot camps is that they often provide substance abuse treatment for troubled teens. Again, because wilderness camps usually only last for one to six weeks, the best chance for long-term success is to follow it with a treatment program. This will supplement and reinforce the treatment teens receive at camp.