Originally founded in Idaho in 1981, SUWS of the Carolinas is a member of Acadia Healthcare. The focus here is on treating children and teenagers suffering from substance abuse and emotional and behavioral issues in a wilderness setting. SUWS of the Carolinas offers a unique experiential rehabilitation approach.
Accommodations and Food
The SUWS residential campus is located right outside Asheville in Old Fort, North Carolina. Kids between the ages of 10 and 17 are separated by gender and sleep in seven large cabins, four for the boys and three for the girls. Cabins have four bedrooms with four clients in each room and each client has a single bed with a shared dresser and closet. Communal restrooms and showers are located outside the cabins in a typical summer camp arrangement.
Meals are prepared as a group under the guidance of a licensed counselor and residents are responsible for both set up and clean up.
Food, camping equipment, suitable outdoor clothing and hiking gear are all provided by SUWS. No personal electronics are allowed at the campsite and at no time are the students allowed to leave the campgrounds to go into town.
Treatment and Staff
Each student is assessed in the first 48 hours post admission. Anyone suffering from withdrawals will not be admitted because SUWS does not offer detox. The clinical staff uses this initial evaluation to create a treatment plan, which consists of group therapy, educational classes and individual therapy. The specific therapy modality—either CBT or DBT—is determined at this point as is the treatment for any dual diagnosis needs. Clients are introduced to 12-step concepts and the power of the social model of recovery.
Because these are teens and preteens, the atmosphere is used to clinical advantage at SUWS. Upon arrival, students join an existing group with an established positive peer culture in which leadership positions are earned through achievement. Groups are supervised by a core treatment team comprised of a therapist and three counselors, and are overseen by the program’s clinical director.
SUWS strongly believes that positive peer influence helps students to shift their focus from entitlement and blaming to mastering personal responsibility and practicing healthy relationships. The goal is to work through problems in the group rather than running from conflict in order to form lasting bonds.
SUWS is an expeditionary wilderness treatment model. Students go on backpacking trips lasting between 10 and 14 days, then return to campus at regularly scheduled intervals to participate in equine therapy and the ropes/challenge course.
Each camping trip lasts anywhere from five to 10 days. There are, on average, seven to nine students on each trip and at least two field staff (all counselors have Bachelor’s degrees in wilderness training and are certified in first aid). SUWS of the Carolinas seeks to move kids out of their comfort zones, placing them in challenging but safe environments. The hope is that the demands of mastering a new setting will allow therapists and counselors to positively engage clients. The outdoor camping experience might also release deeply held passions common in adolescents in healthier ways than they’re used to. The program aims to teach character development and to assist in the discovery of core values and guiding principles.
SUWS of the Carolinas, nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, provides clients with a safe, uncomplicated natural environment. By submerging students in the wilderness, the kids are stripped of chaotic and often damaging stimulus and distractions. Whether sending children this age to wilderness rehabilitation is the best plan is for family members to decide, but keep in mind that for every three campers, there is one staff member standing by. For treatment of this sort, SUWS is a solid choice.
SUWS of the Carolinas
363 Graphite Rd
Old Fort, NC 28762
SUWS of the Carolinas Cost: $16,580 (28 days). Reach SUWS of the Carolinas by phone at 888-828-9770. Find SUWS of the Carolinas on Facebook
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