Boot Camps for Teens: There's a Better Way

Before you send your teen to a military-style bootcamp, please read this guide. Studies show that there's a better way, and we'd love to tell you about it.

Deciding to send your child to a residential mental health program is not a decision any parent takes lightly.

But, sometimes as parents, we have to choose what is best for our child. This can be especially true when it is something we never planned for or expected.

Knowing how a residential program can help and which programs are available are such important parts of your decision-making process.

To make your decision, it may help to know that your teen isn’t alone in facing these challenges.

The teen years are a tumultuous time for every child. Major changes take place in the brain during the teen years. Between the ages of 15 and 19, your child will face a cascade of emotions. While his body is at its physical peak, his brain is churning.

A survey of research on brain development by the National Institute of Mental Health shows that during the teen years, brain connectivity and circuitry is rapidly changing. As your child’s brain passes through this developmental stage, he will experience:  

  • growth in intellectual capacity
  • heightened emotional response
  • altered responses to stress
  • enhances learning capacity
  • fluctuations in sleep patterns

These very normal brain changes can sometimes overwhelm your teen. Heightened emotions and changes in social responses can sometimes result in behavioral problems. The symptoms of conditions such as ADHD or depression may become more pronounced.

Most kids manage to navigate these changes without help. But sometimes, intervention is needed.

You may have noticed issues with your child before the teen years. Or, it may be that this period of rapid brain development brought emotional or behavioral difficulties with it. When your teen is struggling academically or getting into trouble after school, the best thing you can do for him is to look for answers. If there are behavioral issues at home, or you suspect that he may be using drugs or alcohol, it is up to you to find him the help he needs.

The first step when your teen is struggling is to consult with professionals close to home. Your son’s pediatrician or school counselor can provide you with help or resources. They may also refer you to a trained mental health professional in your community. Outpatient treatment and therapy can provide him with the support he needs to navigate the turmoil his mind is undergoing.

But if those treatments aren’t effective, there are other options. Getting effective treatment for your child when he begins to struggle can have a life-long positive impact on his mental well-being. Sometimes treatment is a therapeutic residential program like the one offered by Resolution Ranch.

Boot Camp is Not the Answer

Some residential programs or reform schools for troubled teens place a premium on obedience. At these military-style boot camps, teens aren’t taught to make decisions, but to respond to punishment. According to a report in Scientific American, these kids may learn to control their behavior while under supervision, but not how to manage their behavior on their own. A therapeutic program like the one at Resolution Ranch is different.

How Resolution Ranch is Different

Our program for boys targets life skills and personal responsibility. Each boy is encouraged to learn at his own pace developing the skills he needs to control his own thoughts and behaviors. Instead of punitive measures to ensure compliance, our program employs reflective exercises. The goal is to help each teen reflect upon his actions and take responsibility for his behavior.

  • Exercise and Outdoors—In an article titled How Does Nature Impact our Wellbeing? on the University of Minnesota’s Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing blog, Charles Meadows writes that nature heals the mind and nurtures the body. At Resolution Ranch, your son won’t be forced to march or learn to survive in the wilderness. Instead, he’ll spend time engaging in sports, hiking, and camping to learn to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Share Duties and Responsibilities—To learn responsibility, he’ll be assigned chores and participates in keeping his room and common areas clean.  
  • Academic Achievement—Our academic program is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. We use an online platform that provides online video and text instruction. Your son’s progress will be tracked and recorded and the classes he completes while at Resolution Ranch are transferable when he returns home. Our instructors understand that emotional needs sometimes come first for our students. Our academic program is customized for each student to accommodate his learning needs and matched to his grade level. Our students are encouraged to see themselves as capable of achieving and many are placed on a successful path to college while at Resolution Ranch.
  • Focused on the Future—Our therapeutic residential program isn’t a boot camp that teaches young men to behave and stay out of trouble. Nor is it a reform school where the schooling is all about behavior modification, not education. Resolution Ranch is future-focused treatment facility that equips your son to overcome his challenges and achieve his full potential.

What You Want for Your Child

No parent wants to see their child suffer and struggle. Sending your child away from home isn’t a choice most parents want to make either. Seeing images of stern men in military-style uniforms shouting at troubled teens doesn’t make your decision as a parent any easier.

The good news is, you don’t have to subject your teen to this treatment to get them the help they need.

Yelling and threats are not the answer.

What you want for your child is some help. Help and treatment provided in a safe and nurturing environment.

When you make the choice to send your child to live with someone, shouldn’t it be someone you’d want to be around?

At Resolution Ranch, we understand your child’s needs and your concerns. Together, we’ll work to get him the help he needs and the future he deserves. If you'd like to learn more, download our Parent Introduction Packet or give us a call. We're here to help you and your son.