How to find and select the right boot camp for your teenager

Families looking for a boot camp for their troubled teen are often not sure what to look for. There are three common approaches to alternative boarding school philosophies, and parents are usually led to choosing the one that seems to resonate most with their personal child rearing practices. The Christian boot camps train kids to follow biblical principles, and reinforces religious teachings as the ticket to spiritual freedom. Military style boot camps often force submissiveness by subjecting children to physical challenges and harsh authoritative personalities that simply refuse to “put up with” the kinds of passive aggressive behaviors that troubled teens are known for. Finally, there’s the behavioral psychology type of school that encourages teens to make good decisions, and teaches them how to set responsible goals, and to challenge themselves, and to learn to control their own future by making good decisions.Christian boot camps use the power of religion to convince troubled teens to conform. By teaching children that Satan is the root of temptation and negativity, teens are able to consciously turn their backs on everything associated with Satan and live what they learn to be a Godly life. The environment and atmosphere at a Christian boot camp is often one that focuses on Biblical faith and scripture is used to help teens learn to control the demons that wish to ruin their lives and prevent them from getting into heaven. Teens are allowed to listen to Christian music and encouraged to minister to other teens.

Strict parents often prefer a military approach. There’s no fancy schmancy psychological business, just a straightforward, cut and dry attitude that the adults are in charge and the teens are supposed to follow their lead. There’s no room for back-talking, no opportunity to get into trouble and by the end of the year, when their will is broken, they return home, decided conformists, thankful to be out of service. They learn to play the game of life, not questioning authority, and following rules and societal norms because stepping out of bounds is dangerous.

In other types of alternative boarding schools, teens learn, through positive psychology, to set goals and are encouraged to meet those goals. Environments that reinforce individuality and personal decision-making skills, these boot camps are effective because they train teens to be responsible for the outcomes of their decisions and train them to think critically about the consequences of their actions in alignment with the goals they have set for themselves. These types of schools also tend to have individual and group counseling designed to foster communication skills that allow teens and families to cut through some of the negative behavior patterns to create an environment that makes success possible for everyone.

By evaluating all of the boarding school and boot camp options, parents can make informed decisions that measure each method and approach against their personal parenting philosophies and their child’s potential. Weighing all of the options can be complicated, since there are so many factors involved. Look also for scholarships and financial aid programs. Whether you choose the religious approach, the military approach, or the professional counseling approach, boot camp can make an important difference in your family.

Here are additional resources you might be interested in:

Choosing a teen boot camp for teenage girls

Choosing a teen boot camp for boys