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Considered, researched or actually sent your DC to a Wilderness Camp in U.S.?

(12 Posts)
Frustratedmamabear Sat 30-May-15 11:01:00

Our 14 yr old DS is off the rails, properly off.. Had Tahms, Cahms, Social, YOT, private therapy and now he's well into the YCJ system.

Absolutely exhausted all options in the UK and now very seriously close to sending him to Redcliff Ascent for however long it takes
We are hard working professionals so whilst we won't struggle financially to do it, it's still a big sacrifice and I'm desperate to hear from anyone else who has actually done it, what outcomes looked like etc..

I fully appreciate that by the time someone has got to this stage, life is a real mess so if you would prefer to DM I understand entirely.

Anything that may help at this point very gratefully received..

crazyauntie Sat 30-May-15 12:56:49

Hi, I have no experience of boot/brat camps but seen and watched lots of documentaries. This one has really inspired me. It might be worth considering, I don't know if they take children from the UK but they've got a high success rates and have expanded a lot since filming so got to be doing some right and working.

I can't say what will help but I was a teen off the rails, youth worker and teachers said I would be dead from drugs or in prison by my 18th birthday. I'm now 19 and a half, starting open uni in October and been clean from drugs for over 2 years and been signed off from mental health for a year this month. It's a very long road for both child and parents. Please never lose hope. thanks

Frustratedmamabear Sat 30-May-15 14:38:50

Ty so much Crazyauntie, as you can imagine Hope is a pretty rare commodity at the moment. It's fantastic to hear that you have come out of the other side of the difficulties and you must be immensely proud of yourself as it must have taken a huge amount of work on your part.

I'm watching the Outback kids. Documentaries such as these are always challenging as I'm aware that the hard useful work of therapy doesn't always make for interesting TV so whilst it gives an idea, the thing I need most for him probably isn't covered in it?

Thank you for taking the time out to 'virtually cheerlead' us through this difficult decision and I wish you all the very best in your future x

crazyauntie Sat 30-May-15 21:47:06

I'm honestly not sure about their while treatments (like what isn't covered in the TV) but the website had some amazing information of the treatments they offer and all that jazz. I personally think that once a child has passed a certain point all that can help them is taking them out of life and putting them somewhere like that so they have time to re find theirselves with out any influences. I think if you are going to take this massive step and send him somewhere it's probably best to relocate once he's finished treatment so he isn't going back to the same situation, friends and if possible just have a new start for everybody.

I wish I had a chance to be sent away to a boot/brat camp/ treatment centre at the age of fourteen because I truly believe that it would have helped me. So if you've got the funds just go for it and as quickly as possible.

Just a thought on the legal side if he's under any order/bail/referral then you are going to have to wait until that has finished and inform all parties of your plans. It will be very important for all workers involved to understand why you are doing this and what support you are going to need when he comes back. And also if he's got up coming court cases you can state to the judge that this is what you want to do as nothing has helped in the past. I honestly wish you the best of luck and you will get this sorted. You've just got to believe in your self. thanks

UnspecialSnowflake Sat 30-May-15 21:53:57

Please read this article before you make any choices. I haven't stood in your shoes, I have no experience of having a difficult teen, but this article makes for scary reading.

UnspecialSnowflake Sat 30-May-15 21:55:57

And this one.

TheFirstOfHerName Sat 30-May-15 22:03:16

I understand that you are desperate (I have a child with mental health problems so I sympathise with the feeling that you have tried everything and don't know where to turn).
My concern would be that this plan might damage any remaining trust he has in you. Also, if some of his destructive behaviours are compounded by his peer group, then might they recur on his return?

Frustratedmamabear Sat 30-May-15 23:19:11

Thanks for the feedback.

Firstly, we wouldn't use an escort, he has to go with me to Vegas and then the therapy group pick him up from there. A forced removal would not be something I would consider.

As for returning home, our provisional plan includes us moving out of area whilst he's away so he has a fresh start to come home to. This all sounds incredibly extreme I understand, however he is definitely in a "by 18, jail or mortuary" case. He has just disengaged with any authority, however he's a bright kid and cyclically he hits a new rock bottom and I have a couple of days where he wants to change.

His YOT worker is supportive of our idea and is going to apply to get his sentence suspended so this can happen but I realise this isn't guaranteed.

mathanxiety Sun 31-May-15 20:34:43

I would not move while he is away. He would see this as some sort of conspiracy or betrayal and would use it against you. Move before he goes so he has time to deal with that while he is gone.

I would look at a wilderness camp that has an animal therapy element instead of one that offers only tough love. There are camps where young people work with horses as well as doing hiking, teamwork, etc.

Has he had a private diagnosis and a private second opinion? Any medication ever prescribed?

I would get the best medical (psychiatric) opinion I could find before committing to a camp of any kind. Camps are really only suitable for behaviour issues and will not help people with MH issues beyond a surface level. Sometimes a proper psychiatric diagnosis and the right ADs or other prescription can help greatly.

PrincessTeacake Tue 02-Jun-15 18:10:38

No, no, no, absolutely not. I have heard so many horror stories from young adults coming out of those camps, a lot of them are unregulated and a haven for power-hungry adults looking for someone vulnerable to exploit. Kids have died at these camps.

Assuming that your son has the emotional intelligence to see that you just want what's best for him, this would still ruin your relationship with him and possibly destroy any trust he has in you.

Going 'off the rails' is a symptom of a deeper problem. You may need to shop around to find a therapist he can connect with, not all of them are great at what they do. He may need to disconnect with his peer group, if they're having an influence, and be around people who are also having therapy. If you can afford to ship him off to one of those hellholes, you can afford another option.

Canyouforgiveher Tue 02-Jun-15 18:20:40

I would be incredibly wary of Redcliff (there is a good Atlantic Monthly article on them) and really and truly would only send a troubled child there after personal inspection/meeting people who have gone through the program/talking to state regulators.

If your son has mh issues and you have enough money would you consider getting a full assessment done someplace like McClean Hospital in Boston - they specialise in adolescent programs, have an in patient high school, lots of in and out patient intensive programs, great DBT therapy, will try hard to get the right medication etc.

If I ever did send a child off to an alternative program is where I'd send them.

ItsNotAsPerfectAsItSeems Fri 05-Jun-15 19:36:29

I know someone who seriously considered this because she was in a similar position with her son. But when she researched it she was horrified at the stories she found.
After talking it through with those professionals he was involved this, her and her DH decided to take a 3mth sabbatical from work and all 3 of them went trekking through the Rocky Mountains and Montana. They were away for 2 mths then moved and spent another month at home with him. But it was only possible because he was the youngest of 3, the eldest at university and the other just finished school and off on gap year. Her son was 15 at the time. All 3 were very very bright boys but the youngest never did go to university like his brothers despite her hoping off that outcome. However, neither did he end up in jail or dead.
Good luck.

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