Brat Camp

The term brat camp is misleading in that it leads parents to believe their child is a brat, and that treatment facilities for struggling teens are a place to send their brat to get fixed. This article helps define brat camps, reviews several wilderness, therapeautic, and other programs.

Brat camp is the name of a reality television show that is no longer on the air.  It showed teens with a variety of issues including drugs, anger, alcohol, disobedience, , running away, truantism, depression, school expulsion, stealing, ADHD, and lying. The teens were treated at the following programs:

  • ANASAZI Foundation in Arizona
  • Aspen Achievement Academy in Utah
  • RedCliff Ascent in Utah
  • Turnabout Ranch in Utah

Dr. Phil has perpetuated the name with episodes of his show called “Brat Camp.” The name brat camp does both them and the teens who attend them a disservice. It suggests that the programs are the teens have total blame for their issues, that the organization’s job is to “fix” the child,” and may carry the suggestion that the organization uses disreputable methods. That is arguably not the case.

All of these organizations are members of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP), which requires its members to be licensed by the appropriate state agency that oversees therapeutic and/or behavioral healthcare for young people or, alternatively, accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. In addition, their therapeutic services must be overseen by a qualified clinician.

ANASAZI Foundation

Anasazi is an accredited “outdoor behavioral healthcare service for ages 12 - 25. It offers a wilderness-based residential  therapeutic program for young people who are confronting a variety of issues including defiance, self-defeating behaviors, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, and mild mood disorders. It also works with parents and caregivers.

ANASAZI has a disclaimer that addresses the “brat camp” label: “ANASAZI does not consider itself a brat camp. There are no "brats" or "bad kids" at ANASAZI. We help children and young adults (and their caring families) who in some cases have made bad choices. “

Aspen Achievement Academy

Aspen Achievement Academy combines a licensed treatment program with an accredited academic program in a wilderness program for teenagers who have issues such as poor grades and lack of motivation, confrontational behavior and trouble with teachers, defiance, depression, manipulative behavior, and substance abuse. The outdoor program aims to provide young people with a rite of passage to a young adulthood grounded in responsibility.

RedCliff Ascent

RedCliff Ascent is a 30 to 60+ day wilderness therapy for teens aged 13 to 17 (there is a separate program for young adults 18 to 25) who are experiencing behavioral problems such as drug use, dangerous behavior, self-defeating behavior, running away, defying authority, and anger. The licensed program aims to help young people see their lives in perspective and deal with their issues and problems.

Turn-About Ranch

Turn-About Ranch, a working cattle ranch, provides a Christian-based residential treatment program that averages 100 days for teens aged 13 - 17  in the context of a working ranch. It addresses teens who have problems such as negative influences, drugs and alcohol use, low self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, depression, truancy, lying, stealing, and defiance. The program centers around horsemanship, with each teen being assigned a horse to work with and care for. In addition to the academics program, there is a vocational program that includes culinary arts, auto mechanics, building trades, and information technology.

Other Programs That May Fit Your Needs

If you are looking for a wilderness or other outdoor therapeutic program for your child, and want to find one that is accredited, you may wish to go to the NATSAP website and search their accredited schools:

You can search by location, program type (for example,  “Wilderness Program” or “Outdoor Therapeutic”), by age range, gender, or keywords. You can use the keywords to find programs that specialize in symptoms your child may have (such as defiance), or to seek a program with a particular philosophy (such as Christian).

Related Article: Residential Treatment Facilities >>