Philosophy at SUWS

At SUWS, we understand that adolescents often feel as though they are making the best decisions for their lives, however they often fall victim to overpowering emotions, peer pressure and a distorted self-image.

Unique Clinical Treatment Plans

We recognize that these feelings can make it complicated for young people to understand their choices and consequences, which directly plays into their development of the skills necessary to grow into successful adults. Therefore, we provide a unique clinical treatment plan that has proven to be highly effective in helping students identify these issues so they can begin working towards a successful recovery.

SUWS of the Carolinas is a therapeutic wilderness program designed to address the specific needs and challenges of adolescents within the following domains:

  • Low self esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Trauma
  • Anger Issues
  • Family conflict
  • School failure

Providing Meaningful Experiences

The entire staff at SUWS utilizes the wilderness setting as a catalyst that allows us to connect to troubled youth in ways that promote their positive development. We use the wilderness to move students out of their comfort zones and encourage them to engage in new, positive behavioral habits. This outdoor experience is designed solely to help bring out the best in our students by guiding them through our experiential and hands-on curriculum that keeps them continually discovering their inner strengths and increasing their self-awareness.

Not only do we strive to provide meaningful experiences for our students, but also work to incorporate parental development throughout their child’s stay. At SUWS, we do this by providing parents with tools, online resources and planning sessions all designed to help improve their relationship with their child.

SUWs of the Carolinas Levels


  • Lasts 1 to 2 days.
  • Students live at the SUWS base camp.
  • The focus is on accepting placement, observing the group and interacting with field staff and therapists.
  • Students participate in a face-to-face psycho-social assessment conducted by a SUWS therapist.
  • Allowing a student to observe group dynamics reduces fear and assists in making a positive transition.


  • Students are guided toward an understanding of how freedom relates to responsibility & opportunities to practice personal accountability.
  • Students begin individual therapy, participate in daily group processing and learn low impact camping skills.
  • Students begin to avoid blaming and begin to understand actions and consequences as they reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Mastering personal responsibility helps students gain control over themselves and their environment.


  • Having identified coping skills during the Individual level, students begin to practice healthy relationship skills.
  • They begin to integrate new behaviors and capabilities as well as new beliefs about themselves and others.
  • Students are given specific responsibilities chosen to challenge their individual developmental needs. These responsibilities are aimed at fostering the care and welfare of the group.


  • On the responder level, students assume leadership roles within the group, assisting new students on the Orientation level transition into the program.
  • On this level, students are expected to be role models. They organize setting up and breaking down camp, lead hikes, and assume an active role in the daily group process.  Being a role model helps students internalize success and understand personal integrity.  Continuing to build character, students experience healthy self-esteem.

I went into this program scared out of my mind. At SUWS, I learned the tools I needed to work through my issues and I'm forever grateful.

– Anonymous Patient