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New Perspectives - Feb, 1992 Issue 

Eckerd Family Youth Alternatives
Dwight Lord, Admissions
Clearwater, Florida
(813) 461-2990

Calling their young people (age 10-17) campers, the Eckerd programs are designed to combine the wilderness living experience with the reality treatment perspective, the psychology perspective, and behavior modification techniques. They have 13 camps in 6 states with about 600 campers at any one time. Tuition is $95 a day, and the average stay is 9-12 months. The number of campers that come from direct parent inquiries is increasing, though most of the campers come from the program's involvement with Employee Assistance plans and in working with insurance companies' Cost-Containment programs.

"The program, by design, offers an alternative approach to education which is developed from an ecological perspective. Central to this perspective is the belief that learning involves changing attitudes and behavior as well as acquiring knowledge and skills. In addition, it recognizes the power of nature's structure and orderliness in helping children heal."

"Wilderness camping is now accepted nationally as a legitimate and effective technique for intervening with certain children who are often classified as emotionally disturbed and who frequently manifest their condition by acting out behavior. A theory of wilderness camping has emerged that has its roots in various intervention strategies, but uses the natural environment of the wilderness as the setting for services."

Copyright 1992, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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