Boot Camp for Kids in North Carolina

daydreaming teen image by Tammy Mobley from

Some parents may wake up one day to find that their once sweet, trusting child has become a sullen, angry and defiant human being, ready and eager to push the entire family to its breaking point. For North Carolinians, there are counseling services available, such as Carolina Counseling Services. For the more serious offenders to the family and society, North Carolina's boot camps may be an option.

History of Boot Camps

Juvenile boot camps began in the Orleans Parish, La., in 1985, and were an outcome of the Georgia and Oklahoma adult boot camps begun in 1983. Similar to the adult boot camps, the juvenile boot camps were developed as an answer to increasing incidence of youth crime, overburdened juvenile courts and the growing costs of youth detention.

Types of Boot Camps

There are two types of boot camps. There is a military-style, government-sponsored boot camps for delinquents and a privately run boot camps for troubled teens. Those sentenced to boot camp prisons by the courts must participate in a rigorous schedule of physical training, military drill and ceremony, and hard labor. Campers are allowed few personal possessions or luxuries, like TV, and are limited on visits from friends or relatives. North Carolina's state-run, military-style boot camp, Impact, has been phased out. It has joined with Eckerd Wilderness Camp as an alternative.

Privately run camps for troubled teens involve a therapeutic approach, addressing several problems a teen may exhibit. One such camp is North Carolina's SUWS of the Carolinas, a privately run therapeutic wilderness camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Features of the Two Camps

At Eckerd Wilderness Camps, boys and girls, ages 10 to 17, are placed in groups of 10 and reside with a counselor-teacher for one year. While there, students learn problem-solving skills and interpersonal relationships through group activities in North Carolina's wilderness. The program promotes self-esteem, personal responsibility, communication skills, and self-discipline. There are seven camps in North Carolina.

At the SUWS of the Carolinas, boys and girls, ages 10 to 17, are offered a comprehensive program, which includes assessment and treatment of clinical needs, education and after-care. The program lasts from four to seven weeks and aids children with issues, such as low self-esteem, learning differences, depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and more.

Benefits of the Two Types

States like North Carolina have phased out juvenile boot camp programs because of their ineffectiveness and cost. Adult boot camps or shock incarceration have had limited success. Studies, like the one done with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, have found that a more comprehensive program, like the one at SUWS of the Carolinas, is more effective.


Before sending your child off to boot camp, first consider the health of your child. If your child is suffering from mental health issues, such as depression, manic behavior, self-injury and learning disabilities, a military-style boot camp is not the answer. These camps are typically not equipped with facilities or personnel to handle these difficulties.