After endless rounds of skipping school, discipline problems, even trouble with the law, many parents resort to sending their child to boot camp. Most parents will try just about anything when their sons or daughters become problem children but after punishments, counseling and even incarceration some teens still pose a serious threat to their families and the outside world. These teens usually have a vast supply of anger and no matter what the expected punishment, they continue hurting those who love them the most. At one point there is no longer any hope of sitting the child down and talking to him about his behavior or threatening him with more severe punishments.
No matter what went wrong, and who blames whom, the teen desperately needs help to hopefully change him or her into a productive citizen before they end up doing life behind bars. And with some of these kids, misbehaving is only the beginning. Parents have reported beatings at the hands of their own children, crimes inflicted on neighbors or members of the family, and a total disregard for any authority.
Although many parents have reported a major change in their child after having spent some time at a boot camp the changes are often short-lived. Removing a child from his world and placing him in a world of screaming, cursing, belittling and hard, physical activity is the ticket for some teens to change their attitudes, but for many, the former attitude returns after only a few days or a few weeks back home. Even worse, many of the kids learn the tactics used at the boot camp and practice the screaming, cursing and threatening to harass family and strangers after being released.
Although those in charge of boot camps have great intentions, and indeed, some teens actually change their way of life completely, others simply learn that being louder, angrier, and meaner than the others is a good way to bully through life. The event does teach some teens that life can be tough since the kids are put through rigorous ordeals such as hiking across desserts and going without much sleep, food or comforts. For many kids, upon returning home, the threat of being returned to the camp is all it takes to straighten up and “fly right”.
There are other boot camps who take a Christian attitude towards shaping up its visitors and some kids are more receptive to this type of training rather than the shouting and cursing offered by other camps. Instead, the camps allow kids to earn privileges for showing respect, obeying rules and orders, as well as other accomplishments. The program attempts to take hard kids and soften them by making love, understanding, and second chances the theme. Camps that have a Christian focus require Bible-reading as one of the tasks, along with other chores assigned to the teens. The kids seem to catch on fast, though, realizing almost immediately that they can “fake” their way through it by acting like they’re cooperating so that they can have an easier load and get out sooner. Within days of returning home, though, the unruly behavior often continues.
Alternative, therapeutic camps are having a little more success by taking kids to the wilderness and teaching survival skills, hunting, camping, camaraderie, and pride in their accomplishments. The camps have a slightly higher success rate because they strive to get the kids “hooked” on an outdoor activity, hobby or another past-time. The idea is that if the teen has something he loves to do he’ll be more interested in doing it in his spare time than getting in trouble. The staff is often made up of psychologists who can work with your child to help him along the path of life by teaching him to understand his feelings and healthier ways to handle them.
The camps push kids to deal with their emotional problems, and often require the teens to discuss their issues openly and honestly before transferring out of the program. In addition, elements of nature are explored and learned in a challenging yet compassionate manner. Because the kids are secluded from any other means of eating and staying alive, they cooperate to a certain extent, some even enjoying themselves. These types of camps focus on making the experience more of an expedition than a punishment. And the camps specialize in more than just teens with bad tempers. They take in kids who suffer from depression, have low self esteem or ones who are extremely introverted.
No matter which type of camp you choose it is not cheap by any means, costing up to $5,000 for each stay – usually 2 to 8 weeks – depending upon the program. Some programs will take the same child again and again, but if that’s necessary, it’s obvious the program is not working for the child but is, instead, draining your wallet.
There are a few things you should inquire about before admitting your child into any boot or wilderness camp. One is the type of tactics they will use. You may want to think twice about sending an angry child to a camp that deals with it by dishing out more anger and belittlement. Also, ask about the types of chores the teen will be required to accomplish. Will he be required to run through muddy fields in a thunderstorm carrying cement blocks for hours on end? You don’t want to risk your child’s safety because the tactics of a particular program are too dangerous.
Ask if you can seem film or footage of actual training sessions, discipline tactics and chores being performed. Know what you’re getting your child involved with before signing him up for such camps. It’s recommended that you first try counseling before admitting your child to discipline camps. Learn a little something about the particular camp you have in mind before taking the final steps to admit your teen.