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

Admissions Information

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.

SUWS offers life-changing wilderness-based therapy programs for adolescents ages 10-17 who are struggling with mental illness, mood disorders, and substance abuse issues. Starting with the call to our admissions team to graduation, you will interact with a compassionate team of experts, dedicated to helping your whole family on the journey of recovery.

At SUWS of the Carolinas, we are honored to work with parents and other family members whose dedication to their children has led them to our campus, and we are committed to providing you with a premier treatment experience that exceeds your expectations and provides your family with a renewed sense of hope and health.

From your first phone call until the day your child returns home, we will work diligently to ensure that your needs are met, that you have all of the information that you want and need, and that you remain an active, positive presence in your child’s life throughout his or her time in our program.

Admissions Criteria

In order to qualify for admission to SUWS of the Carolinas, your child must meet the following criteria:

  • Between the ages of 10 and 17
  • Struggling with a behavioral, developmental, mood, or substance use disorder
  • Capable of fully engaging in a wilderness therapy program

Unfortunately, SUWS of the Carolinas is not equipped to accept adolescents who are experiencing or demonstrating any of the following:

  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harming or actively suicidal/homicidal
  • Extremely aggressive behavior
  • Certain medical conditions, including, but not limited to, diabetes or any conditions that require blood-thinning medications

If, during the course of our assessment, we determine that a young person would not be a good fit for programming here at SUWS of the Carolinas, we will provide referrals to programs that may be more appropriate.

The Enrollment Process

Starting the enrollment process at SUWS of the Carolinas is as simple as making a phone call, either to make an appointment for an in-person assessment or to begin the process over the phone. A member of our admissions team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Once you have made this initial call, the enrollment process will progress as follows:

  • The staff member with whom you speak will gather the information that is necessary to determine your child’s appropriateness for our program.
  • Once we have a complete enrollment application on file, our Clinical Director or Executive Director will review the application and make an admissions decision. Our goal is to have all completed applications reviewed within two hours of receiving them.
  • When the enrollment application has been approved, you will complete some additional paperwork and coordinate with an admissions counselors to determine your child’s enrollment date.
  • If you are not able to bring child to our base camp yourself, we can provide you with information about hiring a transport service.
  • When your child arrives, he or she will be outfitted with all appropriate wilderness gear. If you are present, you will also receive a full orientation.
  • We will schedule your initial call with your child’s therapist and will provide you with login information for our parent portal.

Online Application Form

We clinically assess every student to ensure our level of care is appropriate, as well as to determine the family’s readiness to fully engage in their child’s overall treatment and care. In addition, we will evaluate a minimum level of physical ability in each student.

For your convenience, we are pleased to offer a secure online application for admission. Please utilize the link below to begin the process.

Application Form

Our Admissions Team

SUWS Admissions Team

Josh Gunalda
Admissions Director

Professional and Academic Background:
Josh received a BS in Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies from Montreat College. He is very passionate about teaching and facilitating experiential activities with a wide range of audiences. He began his career working with a wilderness program serving adjudicated youth. His next challenge was facilitating backcountry expeditions with fathers and sons who wanted a meaningful, bonding experience. He then instructed leadership courses with high school graduates in preparation for college enrollment.

In 2003, he joined SUWS of the Carolinas, where he spent the next several years as a field instructor working with students and families. He was recognized by SUWS and brought in to help build and launch a young adult wilderness treatment program in North Carolina. While serving as the Base Director for the newly formed Four Circles Recovery Center, he had the great privilege of presenting on wilderness treatment at a number of professional conferences around the country.

He enjoys working with families and is eager to educate and work hard for parents and loved ones so they receive all of the support they need during their challenging experience.

Personal Background
Josh lives in the Asheville area and when not working, he enjoys spending time with his two boys.

Initial connection to the program through the internet and contact with the Admissions team was the key to our decisions to sending our son to SUWS. They made us feel heard and finally not alone with what we were going through as a family

– Anonymous Parent
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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