What Are ADHD Wilderness Programs for Teens?


Parents with ADHD teens struggle enough during regular school days when their teens are occupied with school work and friends. Oftentimes it’s more of a struggle during summers when they have to stay home and the parents aren’t always there to watch over them or make sure they don’t get into trouble. Teens that have ADHD need a clear structure and a lot of physical activities in their daily lives to cope with their disorder. It’s not unusual for teens with ADHD to feel heightened symptoms of their disorder during summer vacation. It’s unfortunate that the progress they’ve made over the school year could come undone once school’s out.

One good option that parents could look into is sending their children to wilderness programs for teens. Studies show that teens with ADHD respond better to treatment and are noticeably calmer in a greener environment. ADHD wilderness programs could just be the right thing to help them through the summer and teach them new coping mechanisms that will help them during the coming school year.

If you haven’t tried enrolling your child in this kind of program, here’s what you can usually expect from an ADHD wilderness program:

1. A consistency in the routines – since ADHD teens need structure in their daily routine, wilderness programs also incorporate a consistent daily schedule. Camp staff will guide your teen through this consistent structure from morning to evening. Studies show that teens with ADHD find it easier to sleep at night if they have a structured routine for the day. However, camp staff doesn’t make the routine so hard to follow. As a matter of fact, they try to make the routine as enjoyable as possible while also making it simple so as not to over-complicate it for teens.

2. Using adventure to foster personal growth – Traditional models of wilderness camps work on the philosophy that adventure can help participants attain some considerable measure of personal growth. Modern wilderness therapy programs take that and mixes in a clinical therapy model which encourages teens to participate in activities that helps gain understanding of what responsible risk taking means. This is very important, especially because ADHD teens are very prone to exploring dangerous lifestyles.

3. Learning cooperation – In a wilderness setting, teens are encouraged to participate in activities that are geared towards easing them out of their shells. There’s no coercion involved, but camp staff are always mindful of not letting anybody isolate themselves from the group. ADHD teens often have a hard time socializing with other teens. It’s a challenge that they’ll feel more able to surmount in wilderness camp because they will be encouraged to participate in activities where their success is dependent on how well they communicate, resolve issues, and express their needs with each other.

4. Healthy living – ADHD wilderness programs also put a lot of focus on healthy living, which is why teens eat a healthy diet here, they have a healthy amount of physical activities, and they sleep on time. Studies show that healthy eating and sleeping habits as well as a healthy amount of physical activity helps control the symptoms of ADHD in teens.

5. Learning through experience – By using the experiential learning technique, teens with ADHD are more able to learn new ways on how they can reduce their anxiety and stress.

6. Not just pointless activities – Most ADHD wilderness programs for teens will make it a point to conduct breakout groups where they discuss the activities for the day. Giving and receiving feedback is essential in the success of these programs.

Keep in mind that traditional wilderness camps may also be helpful for your teen. However, ADHD teens may benefit more from wilderness camps that are based on therapeutic models.