San Juan Wilderness - Philosophy and Practice

The San Juan experience reaches well beyond that of the typical wilderness therapy program. Initially our students participate in all the usual aspects of wilderness living and receive comprehensive therapeutic interventions, but we believe this alone is a half- measure.

The average wilderness programs consist of backpacking circles in the desert and rehashing mistakes of the past for months at a time. While we believe in the therapeutic benefits that come from these experiences, we go well beyond a monotonous, demoralizing routine that never changes. We believe strongly in taking the next step.

As individuals repair their lives, their relationships and their self-image, the next step is to explore and embrace their new identity through rich life experiences. Therefore, we offer rewarding service learning projects, natural science classes and exciting adventure education courses. In this challenging and supportive environment, students can realize their potential for healthy personal fulfillment, leadership, and success while still enrolled in the program.

We utilize the wilderness portion of the program, 2 to 3 weeks per month, to teach perseverance and to create an emotional connection between students and staff. The backcountry provides a nurturing, neutral and distraction-free setting. Students learn responsibility, develop relationship skills, and can heal from years of depression, anger, defiance, drug abuse, and/or grief and loss. In the wilderness, feelings and emotions are brought to the surface. Students can re-evaluate their beliefs about themselves, their families and their role in the community with the help of our experienced counselors and therapists.

We use the base-camp portion of the program, 1 to 2 weeks per month, to compliment the wilderness experience and facilitate additional aspects of the program. Our 40 acre base-camp is situated 10 miles inside the National Forest at an elevation of 9400 feet. Farm and ranch projects, cooking meals, chopping wood and laundry on the washboard are part of daily life. Weekdays consist of natural science classes, service learning projects with local community organizations, such as home building with Habitat for Humanity or trail building for the National Forest Service, and daily therapy sessions. Weekends consist of adventure education courses such as rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain-biking. This is where students can develop their self-esteem and real-world competence, including leadership and problem solving skills. The last weekend of each month is devoted to Family Weekends and Graduation Ceremonies.

San Juan Wilderness
Teen Therapy Program
Experiential by Nature


San Juan Wilderness
Six to Nine WeekTherapeutic
Programs for
Troubled Teens and their Families.

  • Licensed Therapeutic
    Wilderness Program
  • Licensed Residential
    Treatment Center
  • Colorado Dept of
    Education Accredited
  • 12 Years Experience
    with Troubled Teens
  • Tuition $250
    per day

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San Juan Wilderness | Philosophy and Practices | Counseling and Discipline | Program Outline and Schedule |
Therapy and Treatment
| Academics | Adventure Program | Staff | Admissions and Tuition | Location