Wilderness camps claiming to help troubled teens now under scrutiny as a result of growing negative publicity


The popular Netflix series Outer Banks has caused many to question the effectiveness of wilderness camps.

As more and more teens deemed as delinquent are being sent to wilderness camps, the challenges that these teens face have once again been brought up in the media.

The Netflix series Outer Banks, now in its third season, focuses on teens encountering “new obstacles and adversaries, all while navigating their own personal relationships and struggles as they search for the legendary city of El Dorado,” Fansided stated.

In one of the episodes, a critical topic about wilderness camps was presented which caused a public outcry on the harsh treatments many teens face while living under these conditions. These camps, designed to instill a sense of discipline in teens as well as helping them to deal with depression or a lack of motivation, look to achieve their end goal by applying consequences for inappropriate actions.

One of the main characters, Kiara, who is played by Madison Bailey, is sent to a wilderness camp called Kitty Hawk where she is allowed no communication with friends, family, and the outside world. With her resistance towards the news, Kierra is immediately diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and is placed in solitary confinement for hours on end. As this may be perceived negatively, the circumstances that teens are faced with every day does not align with the show.

Though many parents believe that these places are great for their children, The Berkeley Beacon emphasized that “most of these centers are reported to keep patients in unclean, unsafe, and sometimes unlivable conditions.” 

As these camps continue to grow, Paris Hilton, a social media icon, has made many appearances advocating the banning of wilderness camps after experiencing the traumatizing treatments at 17. In her latest show, This is Paris, Hilton explains her troubled life which ended with her being placed at a wilderness camp. When caught trying to escape, Hilton was beaten in front of other teens at the camp. 

In addition, Hilton further highlighted one of the worst places she has ever been sent to, Provo Canyon School in Utah. She pointed out that “she was abused mentally and physically, claiming staff would beat her, force her to take unknown pills, watch her shower and send her to solitary confinement without clothes as punishment,” stated KSL.com.

“After hearing the controversy involving wilderness camps, I feel that they are not a safe place for teens to be sent to, as there are other beneficial places that teens can attend instead,” Olympic Heights sophomore Grace Deeb stated.

Hilton was not the only person to experience these treatments from camps like these. Danielle Bregoli, also known as Bhad Bhabie, was sent to Turn About Ranch in Utah after appearing on Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil McGraw has referred many troubled teens to this particular camp.

Many of those teens, including Bregoli, recount that they were assaulted while being forced to stay there. Danielle shared her experiences, emphasizing that she was “handcuffed, kidnapped, given inedible food, and denied necessity privileges, such as sleeping in bed at night,” The Berkeley Beacon reported.

The growing negative publicity these camps are receiving via programs such as Outer Banks, are causing many to question exactly how effective these camps actually are and if they may possibly be doing more harm than good when it comes to the teens’ mental health.