Here are 10 questions you should always ask when looking for a program for your teenager. Some of these will be looked at in more detail in future blog posts but for a quick reference here are they are:
1 – What qualifications, skills, experience does your staff have with regards to outdoor recreation, fitness training, coaching, counselling, first aid, and working with youth and supporting their development?
2- Does the program use any evidence based theory to guide its approach and the various methods used on the program?
3 – Are the staff free from diagnosed psychological disorders? For example in military boot camps are the veterans free from psychological disorders such as PTSD which may cause negative transference, or impact their ability to operate in a psychologically stressful environment.
4 – What is the instructor to participant ratio? This should not include support staff, only the instructional staff who are face-to-face with the participants and that is their primary role. Some camps count their operational staff and other support staff in their ratio and this can mean the instructional staff are not getting adequate rest.
5 – Has the program been independently evaluated? Or are there plans to have it done in the near future?
6 – Are staff required to undergo ongoing skills training, if so what is it and how regularly?
7 – How do they manage a child that is not responding to the program?
8 – Can you see a comprehensive risk assessment and actions on (operating procedures) for the program?
9 – Does the company follow up with participants and their parents to ensure their practices used on the programs are effective, or need changing?
10 – How do you involve parents and external support into the program to ensure ongoing success?
Whilst it is impossible for any program to give guaranteed results (if they do then they are lying) it is prudent of parents to know exactly what they are getting for their investment and what their child will be exposed too. Even if the program doesn’t work for the child there is an ethical and legal obligation under the ‘duty of care’ to ensure every reasonable step is taken to ensure ‘no harm’ is done – physically and psychologically.
No matter if you choose one of our programs or something else I wish you the very best success in finding something which works for you.