Change of Struggles, Change of Scene
"I think your daughter should try a wilderness program," the voice on the other end of the phone told me. "They can really make a difference for kids who haven't responded to hospitals."
Sending my daughter to a wilderness program was a choice I felt I simply could not make. I had read too many sensationalized reports on the boot-camp atmosphere of these places and how parents often used them as "dumping grounds" for their difficult teenagers. I was convinced that I would be harming my daughter more than helping her by sending her to such a place.
However, a short time after making this decision, Ellen was expelled from the private school for "at-risk" youth where we had placed her in eleventh grade, along with a second recommendation that she go to a wilderness program. By then, I had read a lot (including two of the stories that follow) and talked to many parents who had sent their children to these camps. Not one of them impressed me as eager to get rid of their kids, or uncaring, or inadequate. Still, it was with great trepidation that I arranged for her to go to Utah for a month of hiking in the snow.
"I can't do it. I can't send her so far away, especially for the holidays," I sobbed to my husband as I told him of the plans.
"How can we not try and help her in any way possible?" he asked.