Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program intended to aid struggling youth by offering them therapeutic outdoor experiences, has recently come under scrutiny due to allegations and concerns raised regarding its efficacy and safety. As part of this article we will conduct our own investigation of Trails Carolina to gain more knowledge regarding its practices and outcomes.


Trails Carolina was established in 1980, and has since provided over four decades of service for adolescents ages 10-17 who are dealing with emotional, behavioral, or substance abuse problems. Through wilderness therapy, individual therapy sessions, academic support services and academic mentoring sessions offered through Trails Carolina participants learn essential life skills while facing their challenges successfully.

Allegations and Concerns

Despite its long-standing history and reputation, Trails Carolina has faced allegations and concerns from various sources. Some of the main concerns raised include:

  • Questionable safety practices during outdoor activities
  • Insufficiently trained staff
  • Limited oversight and regulation
  • Inadequate follow-up care after program completion

Safety Practices

One of the primary concerns regarding Trails Carolina is the safety of participants during outdoor activities. While wilderness therapy programs inherently involve some level of risk, it is essential to ensure that adequate safety measures are in place. It is crucial for the program to have well-trained staff who can handle emergencies and provide proper supervision to participants.

Trails Carolina has taken steps to address these concerns by implementing rigorous safety protocols. They have trained their staff in wilderness first aid and have established emergency response systems. Additionally, the program conducts regular safety audits to identify and rectify any potential safety issues.

Staff Training

Another concern raised about Trails Carolina is the level of training provided to their staff. It is essential for the program to have qualified and experienced professionals who can effectively support and guide the participants. Insufficiently trained staff may not be equipped to handle the complex needs of the participants, potentially compromising their well-being.

Trails Carolina acknowledges the importance of staff training and invests in ongoing professional development. They provide comprehensive training programs that cover areas such as therapeutic techniques, crisis intervention, and wilderness skills. By ensuring their staff is well-prepared, Trails Carolina aims to provide the best possible care for its participants.

Oversight and Regulation

Concerns have been raised about the lack of oversight and regulation within the wilderness therapy industry as a whole. Critics argue that the absence of standardized regulations makes it difficult to assess the quality and safety of programs like Trails Carolina.

While it is true that wilderness therapy programs are not subject to the same level of regulation as other therapeutic programs, Trails Carolina has taken steps to address this concern. They are accredited by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBH), which sets industry standards and promotes best practices. This accreditation demonstrates Trails Carolina’s commitment to maintaining high-quality standards and providing a safe environment for its participants.

Follow-Up Care

Another concern raised about Trails Carolina is the lack of adequate follow-up care after program completion. It is crucial for participants to receive ongoing support and guidance as they transition back into their regular lives. Without proper follow-up care, the progress made during the program may be undermined.

Trails Carolina recognizes the importance of post-program support and offers a comprehensive aftercare program. This includes individual therapy sessions, family therapy, and assistance with transitioning back into school and community life. By providing ongoing support, Trails Carolina aims to ensure that participants can maintain the progress they made during their time in the program.


Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that has faced allegations and concerns regarding its practices and outcomes. Through our investigation, we have found that while there are valid concerns, Trails Carolina has taken steps to address them. The program has implemented safety protocols, invested in staff training, sought accreditation, and offers comprehensive follow-up care. It is important for individuals and families considering wilderness therapy to thoroughly research and consider all aspects before making a decision.