Trails Carolina Investigation: Wilderness Therapy Safety

 In recent months, troubling allegations have surfaced regarding Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program designed to help troubled adolescents. These allegations have ignited deep concerns among parents independent investigators. and, advocacy groups .While the program touts extensive staff training, former employees have come forward with disturbing claims, underscoring the urgent need for increased regulation, transparency, and accountability in the wilderness therapy industry. This article will delve into the Trails Carolina investigation, the serious allegations, the program’s response, and what it means for families seeking help for their troubled teens.

Transparency: Shedding Light on Allegations

The Trails Carolina investigation has brought the issue of transparency within wilderness therapy programs to the forefront. Former participants and their families have shared distressing stories of mistreatment by Trails Carolina staff. Some claim their time in the program led to life-changing improvements, while others recount neglect and abuse. This stark contrast emphasizes families’ need for comprehensive information when making vital decisions about their child’s well-being.

Accountability: Holding Programs Responsible

Allegations of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment in programs like Trails Carolina emphasize the critical importance of accountability. These programs are meant to assist troubled adolescents, but when allegations arise, it is essential to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable. Trails Carolina has faced serious allegations, including neglectful treatment that tragically resulted in the death of a teen. Parents seeking help for their children must prioritize programs that place accountability at the forefront.

Oversight: Enhancing Safety Measures

The Trails Carolina investigation has underscored the importance of oversight in the wilderness therapy industry. Former participants have reported emotional manipulation, physical maltreatment, isolation, and preventable deaths. The tragic case of a 17-year-old who ran away ikfrom Trails, Carolina and perished in a nearby creek raises concerns about the adequacy of safety measures. Parents must conduct thorough research, verify accreditation, and ensure that programs adhere to industry standards to safeguard their children’s well-being.

Safety Protocols: A Matter of Concern

The Trails Carolina investigation is part of a broader pattern of allegations affecting the wilderness therapy industry. While some families have reported positive outcomes, accusations of mistreatment, abuse, and neglect have cast doubt on the safety and effectiveness of these programs. Critics argue that the intensity of some programs, like Trails Carolina, may set unrealistic expectations for participants, leading to concerns about the safety and efficacy of wilderness therapy.

Understanding Trails Carolina

Trails Carolina is an outdoor behavioural health program for adolescents struggling with mental health and addiction issues. Furthermore,  Their staff includes licensed therapists and field instructors with expertise in wilderness survival techniques, therapy interventions, and crisis intervention. Trails Carolina employs cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy, and experiential activities like hiking and backpacking to help teens develop coping techniques and improve communication with their families.

The Allegations Against Trails Carolina

The allegations against Trails Carolina are profoundly troubling, covering a range of issues. One tragic incident involved a 14-year-old who ran away from the program, attempted to climb a tree, fell, and fractured their femur. Shockingly, they remained in the forest for up to 12 days before being found, as Trails Carolina failed to notify emergency authorities promptly. Additionally, there were allegations of sexual abuse, which were later disproven. However, these incidents underscore the urgency of addressing concerns within the wilderness therapy industry.

Trails Carolina’s Response

Trails Carolina has acknowledged the allegations against it and committed to cooperating with investigations. They are dedicated to reviewing their operations to prioritize participant safety and emotional well-being. While they emphasize that their staff are experienced professionals, the allegations stemming from interviews with former participants, medical records, lawsuits, and media coverage underscore the need for increased transparency and accountability.

Ensuring Participant Safety

As these troubling allegations emerge, a thorough review of Trails Carolina’s practices and the wider troubled teen industry is imperative. Transparency, independent oversight, and a steadfast commitment to participant safety must remain paramount. Trails Carolina’s emphasis on staff experience and positive clinical outcomes must be rigorously assessed in light of the allegations to ensure the well-being of adolescents seeking help.


Lastly, The Trails Carolina investigation is a stark reminder of the importance of regulation, transparency, and accountability within wilderness therapy programs. Parents must prioritize their child’s safety and well-being when considering such programs. While wilderness therapy offers a unique opportunity for troubled teens to heal and grow, these programs must adhere to rigorous standards, with oversight from experienced professionals, to ensure positive outcomes for participants.