Increased Precautions We're Taking in Response to COVID-19

LAST UPDATED ON 03/15/2021

As updates on the impact of the coronavirus continue to be released, we want to take a moment to inform you of the heightened preventative measures we have put in place at SUWS of the Carolinas to keep our patients, their families, and our employees safe. All efforts are guided by and in adherence to the recommendations distributed by the CDC.

Please note that for the safety of our patients, their families, and our staff, there are certain restrictions in place regarding on-site visitation at SUWS of the Carolinas.

  • These restrictions have been implemented in compliance with updated corporate and state regulations to further reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.
  • Options for telehealth visitation are continuously evaluated so that our patients can remain connected to their loved ones.
  • Alternate methods of communication for other services may be offered when deemed clinically appropriate.

For specific information regarding these changes and limitations, please contact us directly.

CDC updates are consistently monitored to ensure that all guidance followed is based on the latest information released.

  • All staff receives ongoing infection prevention and control training.
  • Thorough disinfection and hygiene guidance is provided.
  • Patient care supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer are monitored and utilized.
  • Temperature and symptom screening protocols are in place for all patients and staff.
  • Social distancing strategies have been implemented to ensure that patients and staff maintain proper distance from one another at all times.
  • Cleaning service contracts have been reviewed for additional support.
  • Personal protective equipment items are routinely checked to ensure proper and secure storage.
  • CDC informational posters are on display to provide important reminders on proper infection prevention procedures.

The safety of our patients, their families, and our employees is our top priority, and we will remain steadfast in our efforts to reduce any risk associated with COVID-19.

The CDC has provided a list of easy tips that can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.

For detailed information on COVID-19, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Safety at Wilderness Camps

We remain open and are continuing to accept new admissions.

SUWS of the Carolinas remains committed to providing clinically superior services within a safe and supportive environment while taking all appropriate precautions to protect the well-being of our students and staff.


For admissions information, or to learn more about the heightened preventive measures we have put in place, please click the link at the top of this page or call us at (828) 489-3198.

There is a hint of risk in everything we do, and wilderness therapy programs are no exception.

But it is important to keep the risks inherent in outdoor activities like hiking, building a campfire, and setting up and taking down tents in perspective. Wilderness programs are quite safe – safer, in fact, than many home environments, and significantly safer than many high school activities. A study conducted by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council showed that children are more at risk playing high school football or driving a car than participating in a wilderness program.

Not all wilderness camps are created equal, so it is essential for parents to do their research and choose a program that takes every possible safety precaution to keep their teen safe.

Here are just a few of the safety precautions that some of the best wilderness programs have in place:

Medical Care

When a teenager arrives at a wilderness program, the first step is generally a medical examination, which often includes a complete physical, drug screen and blood test. Students typically must be in good health before they are issued a pack and gear. During the program, students’ blood pressure, ears, throat and feet are checked each week by a field medic or nurse. If an ache or pain occurs, the field staff responds promptly and has a team of medical personnel they can contact around the clock.

Radio Contact

At many wilderness programs, field teams are in regular contact with “base camp” or the “home office” via radios, cell phones and/or satellite phones. Groups check in frequently, provide regular updates about each student and call in when even the slightest question arises. Emergency response teams are always prepared to take action when necessary.

Qualified, Knowledgeable Staff

Many wilderness programs require wilderness first responder certification of most, if not all, of their field staff. Wilderness first responders are the wilderness equivalent of an emergency responder, or EMT. With advanced medical training in wilderness medicine, first aid, wound management and detecting symptoms of larger issues, field staff members are well-qualified to respond to most medical situations. Staff members also frequently receive training and certifications in first aid and CPR. Many wilderness programs also employ a full-time nurse, field medic and medical director who are on call as needed.

In addition to being highly trained, the staff members at quality wilderness programs are there because they are passionate about helping teens. Every activity is approached first and foremost with safety in mind. If a child’s behavior ever creates a safety threat, the field staff is trained to recognize the appropriate time to intervene, and when necessary, the appropriate time to remove the student from the field.

Hot and Cold Weather

Most wilderness programs are acutely aware of the weather and climate changes in their area, and take every precaution to protect students from heat, cold, wind and rain. In the summer, students do not hike if the temperature exceeds a certain degree and students are assigned a minimum amount of water they must drink to stay hydrated. Students are given breaks multiple times a day to apply sunscreen and check their feet for blisters, and they wear a shade hat, long pants and long shirts to protect against sunburn, bug bites and scratches. In the winter, students are assigned a minimum amount of water to drink; are provided with high-quality, heavyweight winter gear and clothing; and get their feet visually inspected every day.

Hiking Conditions

Although students in wilderness therapy programs are far removed from civilization, program staff knows where each group is located at any given time. Using written logs, maps of the course area and radios, each group’s path is mapped out and shared with other staff members in advance. When students are hiking, they stop at regular intervals to check their feet and drink water. High staff-to-student ratios ensure that students are never left unattended. The students and field instructors stay together as a group, and move only as fast as the slowest student in the group.

When it comes to choosing a therapeutic program for a troubled teen, parents will want to find a program that taps into the “wildness” of nature without compromising safety. SUWS of the Carolinas offers therapeutic wilderness programs for teens that have exemplary safety records and a reputation for effecting profound change in at-risk teens.

Risk is part of life – and part of adolescence. Whether at school, playing sports or even in the comfort of home, safety is never a guarantee. If your teen is in trouble, don’t let fear deter you from getting the help you and your family need.

SUWS of the Carolinas offers wilderness programs for adolescents who are struggling with various challenges, including mental health concerns, substance use, behavioral issues, and autism spectrum disorder. Our expert staff provides developmentally appropriate care to young people in a safe, therapeutic environment. We accept private pay only, but our staff can help develop a detailed financial plan for your family to ensure your child gets the care they need so that they can successfully return to their school and community.

The wilderness therapy offered at SUWS was the dynamic solution needed to help my son with his behavioral issues. When my son left SUWS, he was completely changed for the better and also created new bonds and unforgettable memories! I can't recommend SUWS enough for anyone in a similar situation!

– Britney A.
Marks of Quality Care
Why does this matter?
  • Cognia
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • Forest Service Department of Agriculture
  • National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)
  • National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
  • NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council
  • Safe Zone
  • Sky's The Limit Fund
  • The Jason Foundation

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