Wilderness Schools

Because there are several different types of wilderness schools, it’s important to know the different kinds and what their aims and purposes are. This article sorts out the different types of wilderness schools and when they’re appropriate choices.

What Are the Types of Wilderness Schools?

There are at least four types of schools that can be referred to as wilderness schools. Here’s a breakdown:

• First, there’s a particular school called “Wilderness School” in Australia, which is probably not what you’re considering, if you live in the United States. Closer to home is the Vermont Wilderness School near Brattleboro, Vermont that offers training for different categories of people (school children aged 7–15, young adult women aged 12–16, and adults) in which they learn about nature, including activities such as:

  • animal tracking
  • harvesting wild edibles
  • building friction fires
  • creating shelters

Similar schools, which may or may not have wilderness school in their names offer weekly meetings, camping trips, or an extended learning experience that focuses on ways we can interact with nature.

• Second, there are wilderness schools that focus on outdoor skills combined with leadership skills. Such programs include the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound Wilderness Program. These may focus both on survival skills and skill in outdoor athletic pursuits.

• Third, The Wilderness School in Connecticut, supported by the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families (DCF), has the goal of preventing problems for adolescents, intervening in problem situations involving adolescents, and providing transitions for adolescents who have been in difficult situations. The goal of prevention is what set this wilderness school apart.

• Fourth, in this typology of wilderness schools is a group of programs that use the wilderness setting to provide therapeutic services to young people. They are referred to on the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) website as “Wilderness Programs,” and of the 23 schools listed as being accredited and having membership in NATSAP, nine are in Utah.

Some of these wilderness school that provide a therapeutic program focus on training in the outdoors, while others combine wilderness education with an academic program. Because the programs involve challenging outdoor activities, they do not accept very young children: many of the programs have a 13- or 14-year-old age minimum, while a few accept children as young as 10. Several have an age cut off in the teens, but others accept young adults into their 20’s, with one accepting enrollees as old as 28, though it is customary to separate adult and teen groups. There are both coeducational, boys only, and girls only options.

These wilderness schools vary in the types of problems they are prepared to address. Wilderness Treatment Center in Marion, Montana, for example, only works with boys who have been diagnosed as “chemically dependent,” but a number of them list a range of issues that may include mood disorders such as depression, low self-esteem and poor school performance, truancy, substance abuse, self-defeating behaviors, bowing to peer pressure, and refusal to accept responsibility for oneself.



International Schools

An international school can be a school that is on foreign soil, one that provides an international credential, or one at which students are trained as they would be in a country other than the one at which the school is hosted. This article explain international schools.

International Schools Around the World

Schools that are referred to as international schools in the United States can, in the first instance, be schools located in other parts of the world. Citizens of the United States may gain admission to such international schools by application and travel on their own to the school, attend such schools while their families are temporarily resident in the area for some reason, or while one or more family members is stationed overseas as part of military service. A student at one of these international schools who is not a resident of the country in which the school is housed may be referred to as an international student.

Students at international schools of this type may receive bilingual education or be expected to attain sufficient grasp of the language of the native population that they can receive their education using this second language. Such schools are generally run by the lights of the local population rather than a curriculum and pedagogy that would be expected in the United States. Thus, students may be asked to participate in different subjects, different sports, different activities, and taught with different approaches. Students may find differences in expectations and grading, in approaches to assessment, and in the amount of homework assigned.

Schools Offering an International Credential

The best-known international credential may be the International Baccalaureate, or IB, degree.  (IB actually offers programs for students aged 3 to 19.) The International Baccalaureate was developed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1968, and is now offered at about 3086 schools in 139 countries around the world, including 1213 in the United States. It is a pre-college graduate degree and attempts to educate learners who are balanced, caring, communicators, inquirers, knowledgeable, open-minded, principled, reflective, risk-takers, and thinkers. The course ends with a set of examinations. In the United States, St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Maryland, claims to be the only all-girls school in the United States to offer the IB diploma.

Schools Bringing an International Sensibility to Another Country

A school like the British International School of New York meets the criteria for the second group by offering the International Baccalaureate degree, beginning in 2009. However, it is also international in another sense, and that is in combining the IB program with the English National curriculum. Thus, even on their own soil, Americans can experience education as it is provided in England. The school can provide the taste of another approach to US students, as well as continuity to students from the UK who are temporarily living in New York, but plan to return home to complete their educations at some point. The school provides education for students turning 4 to students turning 14—that is, Nursery school to British Year 9/US Grade 8.



Military Academies

There are several different types of educational institution referred to as “military academies.” Read this article to understand the differences between them and understand what they offer their students as educational institutions with a special focus.

What Are the Different Meanings of Military Academy?

A military academy can be the name of several different types of educational institution, so let’s begin by clarifying the distinctions between the different kinds.

• First and foremost, the term military academy refers to the Federal service academies at which entrants into the United States Armed Forces are trained to become officers. There are five academies for the Armed forces:

Army—U.S. Military Academy (USMA) West Point, NY

Navy, Marines—U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Annapolis, MD

Air Force—U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Colorado Springs, CO

Coast Guard—U.S. Coast Guard Academy  (USCGA) New London, CT 

Coast Guard, Navy, Merchant Marines—U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Kings Point, NY

Students at one of the military academies earn a B.S. degree and incur a 5-year obligation for active duty. In all except the Coast Guard Academy, nomination by an authorized nominator (often a U.S. Senator or Representative) is required to be considered for entrance.

• Second, there are higher education military academies, not run by the Federal government or the armed forces. Often enrolling both cadets and traditional students, these military academies focus on a college preparatory curriculum and leadership training in an atmosphere of military discipline, with some students, but not all, going on to a commission in a branch of the armed forces.

• Third, there are secondary schools that are known as military academies or military prep schools. These schools have a joint focus on high caliber academics and leadership training, often with a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) branch, or former members of the armed forces on staff. Outside of JROTC membership, which may be required where it is offered, the school may offer a greater or lesser emphasis on military discipline and a greater or lesser similarity to military hierarchy as part of its culture. 

This type of military academy may also have a religious affiliation that adds to the cultural milieu. What it is not likely to have is any ability to accommodate students with disabilities or other learning issues, much less, students with discipline problems—whether self-discipline or otherwise, students with a tendency towards teen violence, who use illegal substances, or who defy authority. With an emphasis on training leaders, military academies are not equipped to deal with students facing these issues.

This type of military academy may be coeducation or all boys. While most are private schools, there are also some public school military academies, and the public school military academies are day schools, rather than boarding schools. Most accept students in grades 9 through 12, but some accept students in younger grades, with one accepting students as early as 5th grade. A number of these academies offer a summer experience, some focused on academics to give students continuity between years, some focused on physical activity and sports, and some meant as a way to introduce prospective students to the school.

College Prep Schools

Learn about what a college prep school is, the different types of college preparatory schools and what the various benefits a college preparatory school might hold for your child in this article.

What Is a College Prep School?

The term college prep school is short for college preparatory school. In the most general sense of the phrase, all high schools that graduate students who go on to college are college preparatory schools. But the term has a more specific meaning, as well. In its specific meaning a college prep school is usually a private school, often with a boarding option, that not only seeks to offer a curriculum, environment, and activities that help a teenager to be ready for the responsibilities and challenges of college, but also maintains a high ranking and respect in the community for its exemplary academic program and has a history of sending graduates to top US and international colleges and universities.

A college prep school is most often understood to be a secondary school, often including high school grades (9–12), but sometimes including 8th grade or 7th and 8th grade as well, but a few, like Trinity School in Manhattan, start with kindergarten.  A college prep school may be coeducational or enroll only girls or only boys. It may be secular or affiliated with a particular religious faith (which does not mean that it will not accept students of other faiths). The cost of tuition alone is often in the tens of thousands of dollars, with boarding costing even more, but this price generally enables small class sizes, elite sports teams, and a fine teaching staff, members of which possess advanced degrees in their fields. A college prep school is most often referred to as simply a prep school.

What Are the Potential Benefits of a College Prep School?

First of all, a student at a college prep school is apt to enjoy a very fine education during his or her enrollment there. In addition to small classes and excellent faculty, boarding students have afterschool access to their instructors, who provide individualized attention. Another benefit is that all students become accustomed to the competitive atmosphere that is likely to be encountered at the topflight colleges and universities that they hope to attend. Students with athletic talent are likely to find state-of-the art athletic facilities, as well as well-equipped and well-coached teams that allow them to compete at the highest level that they are capable of.

Beyond that, the top college prep schools send a very high percentage of their graduates to top US colleges and universities, including MIT, Stanford, and the so-called Ivy League schools of the Northeastern United States—Brown University in Rhode Island, Columbia University in New York City, Cornell University in upstate New York, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Princeton University in New Jersey, The University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University in Connecticut.  Some even believe that college prep school educated students become—through the prep school experience—more confident and better able to deal with authority, which is forecast to serve them well in their careers.



Boot Camps

Boot camps is a term for a number of different experiences, some of which are dangerous to children. Read this article to learn about the types of boot camps and the reasons why certain boot camps are not a good fit for your child, no matter what.

What Are The Types of Boot Camp?

Originally, the term boot camp referred to the required training for recruits to the United States Armed Forces. This training involves a program that is known as Basic Training in the US Army, Recruit Training in the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Navy, and Basic Military Training in the Air Force. The purpose is to help recruits make the transition from civilian to solider, to become physically fit, learn new skills, understand the chain of command, and learn the habits that will make their interactions with fellow recruits and the hierarchy go smoothly.

Another form of boot camp is a part of the penal system in the United States and other countries. Beginning in 1983, boot camps were meant to reduce the strain on the correctional system and provide an alternative to probation and imprisonment with adult offenders for teen-aged offenders. Boot camps have been accused of causing the deaths of inmates. In 2006, the State of Florida banned boot camps of this type after a 14-year-old boy died during his stay at one. A child is only a candidate for this type of boot camp if he or she has broken the law. If you are considering this as an alternative to prison time, research the options carefully to ensure that the particular boot camp in question is a well-run, reliable operation with a clean history and a real interest in the welfare of young people. 

A third form of boot camp is a school meant for troubled and defiant teens who have not broken the law, but who are intransigent and have not responded well to other environments. Parents who do not know what else to do with a teen who defies authority, runs away, or engages in other problematic behaviors, but has not entered the criminal justice system, sometimes send teens to this kind of boot camp as a last resort. This type of boot camp uses prison-style or what are called “military-style” tactics to force teens into submission and cooperation. 

Three of the types of behavior that often send parents looking for this type of boot camp are substance abuse, violence, and/or delinquency. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has concluded that the boot camp approach is not an intervention that succeeds in these cases. Rather, according to NIH, boot camps often spread negativity and their “scare tactics” approach is not supported by research. 

A fourth type of boot camp is a program for intensive physical training either inspired by military recruit training, or simply taking the name to give the idea that the course is demanding and the results impressive. They may serve specific groups, like women, or a range of participants with diverse needs. They may also be combined with nutritional programs and other elements beyond physical conditioning.