Why Boot Camps Are a Bad Choice

Why Boot Camps Are a Bad Choice


At WinGate, we believe that wilderness therapy is an effective form of treatment because it combines established therapeutic practices with a wilderness environment that is itself healing. In fact, there are certain aspects of wilderness that act as treatment effect multipliers. Treatment effect multipliers are certain factors, identified from psychology and counseling research, which magnify the effectiveness of conventional therapy. 



Why Boot Camps are a Bad Choice

Boot Camps are A Bad Choice for Troubled Teens

Each year, thousands of parents across the nation choose to send their troubled son or daughter to dysfunctional behavioral treatment programs known as boot camps, or 'brat camps for troubled teens.'

However, most of these unsuspecting and trusting parents are uninformed regarding the sordid history of these facilities. 

Additionally, the majority of these parents -  who are made up of worried and seemingly hopeless moms and dads who put their hope, faith, and trust in these 'behavioral modification' programs - are also unaware of the shocking reputations of boot camps for troubled teens, which includes mentally and even physically abusing children. In some extreme cases, physical abuse has even resulted in the deaths of adolescent children.

Needless to say, if parents knew the truth about these so-called, 'treatment facilities,' very few would trust in their services to rehabilitate their child's behavioral issues.

The following article was created to spread awareness about boot camps for troubled teens, as well as the inherent threat they pose for any teenage boy or girl unlucky enough to be sent to one of their facilities. 

Research Proves that Boot Camps Have an Adverse Effect on Teenage Behavioral/Emotionalnal Issues:

  • According to NIH Consensus and State-of-the-Science Conference panel of health professionals, rather than simply being 'ineffectual,' boot camps are more than likely to make problems worse. 

  • NIH studies also indicate that - boot camps and other get-tough programs - cause increased hostility amongst youth, who, when forced into a group setting,  are prone to amplify each other's anger under stressful conditions - like the stressful conditions considered to be fundamental in the behavior modifying ideology of all boot camps for troubled teens. 

The Unfortunate Truth about Boot Camps for Troubled Teens

Boot camps for troubled teens are modeled after traditional military recruiting camps. And, like militarized, conventional boot camps, 'brat camps' heavily rely on shocking their campers with military disciplinary techniques to promote 'change' in their behaviors.

Unfortunately, while this style of militarized disciplining is profoundly successful in transforming civilians into brave soldiers by first breaking them down before building them back up, it does very little regarding treating the adverse behavioral issues of teens with mental health-related issues.

Psychological experts ubiquitously agree that boot camps' are fundamentally incapable of providing teens with any substantial and long-lasting behavioral, or emotional, positive changes.

As to why EVERY psychological and behavioral expert subscribes to this notion, their answer is always this: boot camps provide ZERO psychologically therapeutic value in the way in which they 'behaviorally modify' [sic] troubled teens. 

At WinGate, our philosophy in the effective treatment of troubled teens is to create an environment of responsiveness while reducing the resistance the troubled teen has toward change, authority, and himself or herself.

Furthermore, we believe in cooperation rather than confrontation. Every staff member holds positive regard for every student, and work hard to gain the trust and respect of every child camper, on an individual, one-on-one basis.

Although certain rules must be followed in order to maintain safety and overall program effectiveness, we also honor and respect each student’s own path. That is why we are proud to say that provide our campers with non-consequencing or level-system therapies.

Unfortunately, many parents across the nation are uneducated regarding the flawed and rather draconian treatment philosophies of these "so-called," brat camps.

By subscribing to the provenly-outdated ideology of behavioral modification programs, thousands of parents continue to send their children to boot camps for troubled youth, completely or perhaps even willingly ignorant of what harm such a place can have on their child's life. 

For parents such as these, they hang their hopes on the rarely-beneficial, less than reputable behavioral-mod programs will somehow magically rehabilitate their child's once promising potential.

Most of these families, however, are quickly caught up to speed on the matter, typically within a couple of weeks of their child returning home. 

Experts Widely pan boot Camps:

"Not only do they not work, they often exacerbate the social, emotional, and psychological issues of troubled teens."

Within 2-3 weeks, it is quite typical for teens returning from a boot camp program to fall back and act on their old, negative behavioral patterns. While some of the returning boot camper's may appear to have 'changed' for the better, these changes are typically short-lived and are almost always temporary.

Generally, in this particular case, the child's subservient attitude is ultimately replaced by anger and resentment for their parent, who, at least through their perspective, allowed, and even paid, for their abuse to happen at the hands of ill-equipped, militarized bullies. 

The Reason Boot Camps Fail Troubled Teens

To fully understand why boot camps fail to rehabilitate troubled youth, one needn't look any further than every boot camp in the nation's treatment-curriculum.

Rather than identify and treat the underlying issues responsible for a child's poor behaviors (like that of any therapeutically effective, residential treatment or wilderness therapy program) these military-like facilities attempt to change the child by force. They strive to accomplish this foolhardy and abusive feat by screaming at children with enough frequency and dominating volume so that it emotionally and mentally "breaks" the child.

Unfortunately, in addition to breaking a child's will to fight or resist authoritarian commands, brat camp drill sergeants also break the spirit and already damaged self-worth of most of the children they mistreat under their misguided guise of "behavioral modification treatment."   

Behavioral Modification Treatment

Once they have successfully "broken" a child (which is typically the extent of a boot camps staff's "successes"), the child will seem as though he or she is starting to "fall in line," behaviorally speaking. However, this apparent and seemingly miraculous behavioral about-face is nothing more than a child acting on fear in a desperate attempt to appease their psychological abuser. 

Make no mistake about it; this abusive, militarized-authoritative model is as fundamentally flawed as it is morally reprehensible. 

Not long after a brat camp, drill sergeant's constant, everyday belittlement of the child - whose self-worth is more than likely already lacking - a brat camp graduate will probably have learned to trust and respect authority figures even less than they did before their enrollment.   

While many of the teens who participate in boot camps initially seem to achieve behavioral-restoration, the consensus among troubled teen specialists is that these changes are very short-lived. In fact, these same experts believe that a boot camp's style of "treatment" will more than likely result in a troubled teenage boy or girls' issues worsening.

Behavioral studies of troubled teens prove that any noticeable change in an adolescent boot camper is merely a reflection of their newly developed fear and unquestionable distrust of authority. It is this fear of authority that will likely cause a troubled adolescent to lose trust in all of those whom they see as an authoritative opposition, including their own mother and father.

Furthermore, it is truly necessary for any parent who is considering to send their child to a boot camp, to first examine other, undoubtedly exponentially more viable treatment options instead.

Wingate is a premier Wilderness Therapy Treatment Center for struggling teens who may be experiencing addiction, depression, academic failure, sexual promiscuity, or multiple issues relating to poor mental health. Here at WinGate, troubled adolescents from all over the country are learning the life skills required for sobriety and independence at our nationally recognized Wilderness Therapy Program

The Effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Boot Camps For Troubled Youth

Frankly, those who attest to boot camps for troubled teens' effectiveness, do so, without credible research to back up their provenly baseless convictions. As of 2017, there is ZERO scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of behavioral-mod boot camps' treatment methods, let alone scientific research to suggest its viability as a treatment program for troubled youth.   

In fact, the only confirmed research-based findings on boot camps for troubled teens indicates that a child’s recidivism rates (the likelihood of a child’s negative-behaviors re-occurring) are comparable to that of a former prison inmate’s risk of re-offending after their incarceration (75%-80%).

Additionally, it’s important for parents to know that boot camps have recently come under sharp criticism by mental health experts, for being too harsh while failing to adequately address a juvenile's underlying psychological problems - the mental health issues that cause a child to act out negatively.

Boot Camps for Troubled Teens' Humble Beginnings

Outside of military use, boot camps’ were first used as a behavioral modification program during the mid-20th century. Initially, however, these Boot Camp’s shock incarceration treatment was strictly used only in treating adult criminals.

Even more concerning is that this boot camp styled punishment was often used in conjunction with lengthy jail sentences for hard-time offenders.

----- Does this sound like a program that can truly provide a long-lasting change in your troubled child? -----

All credible, psychological, and behavioral experts agree: Boot camps that implement military-style discipline, are not only ineffective in regards to providing therapeutic-based behavioral rehabilitation of troubled teens but rather, are known to make teenage emotional, behavioral and psychological issues even worse.

 Boot Camp Alternative: A Program That Provides Genuine Clinical And Therapeutic Treatment in Restoring the Lives of Young Men and Women

If you are a parent still considering a boot camp for your troubled teen, Wingate Wilderness urges you to consider this inescapable truth about militarized behavioral treatment programs:  Most of, if not all, troubled teen boot camps operate without accreditation or licensure.

What's worse, most boot camps for troubled teens employ no therapeutic professionals within their staff, whatsoever.

It is for this reason why Wingate Wilderness Therapy urges parents to consider selecting a program like ours as an alternative to a boot camp for troubled teens – which, as you hopefully understand by now, will almost inevitably exacerbate your child’s emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues even further. 

Wingate Wilderness Therapy Experience VS. Boot Camp For Troubled Teens

With over 80 years of collective experience with wilderness therapy programs, we know how to help troubled teens and struggling young adults find a new direction and purpose in life. WinGate Wilderness is considered a therapeutic transitional living program with Intermediate Behavioral Health Care.

Instead of ridiculing and demeaning adolescents, Wingate Wilderness believes in treating teenage clients as they deserve to be treated - as a struggling youth in need of therapeutic intervention.

In other words, Wingate Wilderness Therapy's treatment of troubled youth is far from that of a boot camp, which treats teens like they were less than human, or at best, lowly criminals. 

Additionally, here at Wingate, it is our mission to identify and nurture the goodness of young men and women as we strive to help them find their true selves in their most desperate time of need - which is more than we can say for our boot camp competitors, whom we are proud to say that we are in complete contrast with, fundamentally and therapeutically speaking. 

WinGate Wilderness - A Truly Effective and Therapeutic Solution

Unlike the archaic and misguided treatment methods of boot camps, Wingate Wilderness Therapy has a reputation of successfully rehabilitating troubled teens that speaks for itself. Our program has scientific research to back up our verified claims of providing exemplary treatment philosophies to restore the lives of troubled teens successfully. 

Here at Wingate, we provide healing, therapeutic treatment for teens who are in need of compassion, mutual respect, and patience in addition to their receiving of clinical psychiatric treatment, in order to overcome their behavioral and mental health issues. 

Not convinced that Wingate is a better choice than a boot camp for troubled teens? Just compare our philosophies and methods of treatment with that of the militarized brat camps that we've discussed thus far. 

Not convinced? Here are Five More Reasons to Consider Wingate Wilderness Therapy for your Troubled teen: 

Reason #1: Wilderness Therapy is Scientifically Proven to be Effective

  • Studies have shown that more natural environments result in a higher capacity for paying attention. This means that nature and wilderness reduce symptoms of ADHD and improves attention for those not struggling with ADHD. This increased attention provides an opportunity for therapy to be more effective.

Reason #2: Wingate Implements a Provenly Effective Treatment Plan

  • The core of the Wingate program is the Arbinger "Choice" philosophy, with which we attempt to teach our clients how to always see people (parents, teachers, siblings, etc.) as people, and not as objects. Instead of tacitly teaching troubled teens how to manipulate a system and act good, we try to help them shift away from viewing others as vehicles or obstacles to getting what they want. We also introduce our addicted clients to the 12 steps of AA which are themselves a new way of living.

Reason #3 Wingate's Clinical Difference

  • Wingate is not unique in trying to teach a new way of living, but we do it well, we do it intentionally, and we do it in a way that creates less resistance. When clients adopt a new philosophy and way of living, it can magnify the effectiveness of any other therapeutic interventions and change their lives.

Reason #4: No Level Systems 

  • Rather than forcing every student to go through the same 'level system,' we specifically design and implement individualized treatment that is unique and specific to each camper. Rather than use punishments and rewards by utilizing a 'level system,' we provide therapeutic services and develop treatment strategies as a camper's experience goes on.
  • In other words, we do not punish or reward. Rather, we allow the "structure of the treatment to reveal itself throughout the process, not at the outset before we even get to know the student."
  • We address core issues as they arise - as the natural wilderness creates new obstacles, there is really no need to simulate consequences by utilizing disproven and contrived level systems of old. 

Reason #5: We are Relationship Driven 

  • Rather than subscribe to behavioral modification's strict 'carrot and stick policy' (AKA, Level Systems) to forcibly attempt to change our campers, we at WinGate believe in providing what we call, 'relational therapy.' With over four decades' worth of evidence to support our relationship-driven philosophy, WinGate's relational therapy is the defining feature of our therapeutic program. WinGate is unique in its capacity to ensure that a powerful alliance of relationship-driven therapy permeates throughout all aspects of our pro-social program.

Thanks to our curricula’s balanced approach to adversity building and psychological nourishment, Wingate Wilderness is truly a more viable alternative to a boot camp for troubled teens. Please, grant us the great honor of serving you today. Call us today at 1-800-560-1599.