Adirondack Leadership Expeditions

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Adirondack Leadership Expeditions is 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 [1].

They allow the use of Teenage Escort Companies [2].

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 [3].


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 [4].

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 [5].


External links

Info pages

Survivor Group

Message Boards

Watch organization status