Teens Learn Valuable Life Skills at Wilderness Therapeutic Boarding Schools

Written by Wood Creek Academy.

One of the most effective choices for parents of troubled teens is to send them to a wilderness therapeutic boarding school. Find out more about the types of lessons that students learn while attending one of these schools.

Teenagers who have emotional, academic or social challenges can often struggle with traditional methods of education or discipline. Sending many teens to a harsh juvenile boot camp can often lead to them rebelling or increasing their feelings of anger. In addition, their current social environment – such as being around a group of destructive friends – can make it difficult to change their habits. For these teens, a new approach in a different location is often necessary in order to put them on the road to making a positive change in their lives.

One solution to this is to have a troubled teen attend a wilderness therapeutic boarding school. These programs offer students a place to go for nine to 12 months and work on their behavioral and emotional issues in an outdoor setting. Through a mixture of group and individual therapy, academic counseling and wilderness adventures, participants raise their self-esteem and begin to cope with the issues that have previously stunted their emotional growth.

A major difference between a wilderness therapy program and a boot camp for teenagers is in the level of life skills that teens learn. At a therapeutic boarding school, students take daily educational classes as well as performing tasks that can help them grow as a person and acquire necessary skills for their rest of their lives. Some examples of this include:

Outdoor Skills: Being in nature is a major component in the process at wilderness therapeutic boarding schools. It gives students the chance to contemplate in a peaceful setting. It also gives them a chance to learn how to work and communicate with other students to complete tasks in an outdoor setting. This can include survival camping, fishing or kayaking expeditions.

Coping Mechanisms: One of the challenges that troubled teens face is learning how to deal with complex emotions such as anger and disappointment. Developing healthy coping mechanisms can help them to better navigate difficult moments in their life. One approach taken by many therapeutic boarding schools is to have students engage in regular group therapy sessions where they can hear what other students are going through, understand they are not alone and help each other develop better ways to communicate and deal with tough situations.

Life Skills: Attending a wilderness therapeutic boarding school helps students develop skills they can use for the rest of their lives. Students learn how to perform basic chores such as doing laundry, making a bed or mopping floor along with getting larger life lessons. These can range from learning how to create and stick to a budget to living with roommates.


Based in rural Montana, the Wood Creek Academy is a licensed therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens. The program has been effective at helping young men discover self-confidence and discipline.