Adirondack Leadership Expeditions

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Current status Open
Checked July 21, 2013
Open.gif Opened 2003
Close.gif Closed 2013 [1]

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions was a behavior modification program using the concept of wilderness therapy. The target group is teenagers between 13 and 17. The program was founded in 2003 [2].

They allow the use of Teenage Escort Companies [3].

The management announced that the program would close summer 2013 [1]

Program Structure

The program is 45 days average. As a parent you should be aware that issuing clothes for the teenager is done outside, which can be very cold during the winter [4].


They use a level system, where the pressure of being put in a strange enviroment with no knowledge of a date of release combined with the feeling of banishment from their family and friends should make them break down during the first phase named "A" and accept their placement in the program.

The Levels are as following:

Level Program purpose Focus of the detained teenager
A Assesment Accept Placement
B Accountability Personal responsibility
C Awareness Relationship skills
D Action Ledership

Hiking days

A typical day when hiking consist of:

Morning Noon Afternoon Evening
Wake up Lunch Hike Set Up Camp
Breakfast Curricula Assignments Chores
Personal hygiene Group Processing Hygiene
Pack up equipment Dinner & Clean Up.
clean up campsite Letter & Journal Writing
Group Processing Session / Hike / Experiential Activity Group Debriefing Session
Individual Counseling Quiet Time / Individual Counseling

Therapy Days

When the detained teenagers are not hiking they are put through a stict regimen of group therapy session as well as individual sessions with counselors. These therapeutic interventions are typically on Mondays and Wednesdays.


The detained teenager is restricted from all other means of communication than letters. The parents speak with a therapist over the phone once a week. At the end of the expedition the parents can choose to spend a day or two at the faciliy where they participate in a number of exercises with the teenager before they grace the teenager back into the family.

In the News

  • Because the program takes place in an forest environment, the risk of injuries is something to take into consideration. Rescuers from the local department know the name of the program [5]

Forest Rangers from the Department of Environmental Conservation were called out three times this month to rescue clients from a Saranac Lake-based wilderness program for troubled teens.

  • The neighbors are not too happy with the program. When some of the teenagers learn that they are not going home, but rather transferred to a private paid lockdown, some of do run away or become violent instead of breaking down. This has lead to some incidents, which are under investigation by the local city hall [6].
  • In 2012 it was once again reported that the local citizens were worried and some were speaking of arming themselves for their own protection [7]

External links

Info pages

Community groups

Message Boards


  1. 1,0 1,1 Outdoor program for troubled teens closing, by Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 17 2013
  2. Info about the program on NATSAP Us9.gif
  3. Survivor testimony from HEAL-online Us9.gif
  4. Voices from the GULAG, Teen Liberty Us9.gif
  6. Town of Franklin Board Meeting, December 11, 2006 - 7:00 pm Us9.gif
  7. Franklin residents worry about troubled campers, by Jessica Collier, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 9 - 2012