Our Camp Mission
Guided by the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)model and the Juvenile Justice Enhancement Strategy (JJSES), YSA’s ACT programs work to promote accountability and develop competencies in our students.
We address victim awareness through group, individual, and family therapy, competency development through pro-social skills and vocational training, and restoration through restitution and community service projects that add to the preservation of public buildings and parks.
YSA programs interventions are targeted at the Youth Level of Service (YLS) domains of: personality and behaviors, attitudes and orientation, peer relationships, family circumstances, education and employment skills, substance abuse, and leisure /recreation.
At YSA students are encouraged to take healthy risks to discover their true abilities. We empower our students to lead healthier lifestyles by maintaining high expectations and supporting the change process. Students begin to tap into their higher potential. Youth are challenged which leads to change. By making these changes our youth succeed.
We are NOT a Bootcamp
YSA’s ACT program was designed to help adolescents through challenges that can occur when various behavioral, substance abuse, psychological, or traumatic issues are present. Everything we do is intentionally designed to assist students and their families in creating lasting changes. We are not a boot-camp program! While boot-camps focus on behavioral modification and extrinsic (external force) motivations, our program strengthens intrinsic (internal decision) motivation through the use of positive interventions and relationship-based therapy techniques. Without the use of coercion, students will learn how to problem solve, and drive their own motivation as opposed to being forced into actions. We invite, support and encourage participation from each of our students.
Treatment as Unique as the Students we Serve
Students participate in individual and group sessions facilitated by a Master’s level therapist and Bachelor’s level counselors who create a comprehensive assessment of each student and their specific needs. We employ empirically-supported, trauma-informed service elements and we gather information from parents, educators, psychiatric evaluation, and our own observations to create a detailed treatment plan. We are also involved in an ongoing process of self-improvement which means we are constantly gathering outcome data to measure the success of our programming.
Having treated hundreds of youth, YSA understands the importance of parent involvement in effective treatment and long-term success. At YSA we involve the whole family—not just the adolescent. YSA is committed to incorporating a family systems approach throughout treatment. In our residential programing parents and sometimes other family members, are invited to participate in family therapy with the primary therapist, and complete parent’s psycho-education assignments.
Become a Youth Mentor
Our Youth Mentors are adventurous by nature and have a love for the outdoors and have a desire to do work that matters. They play a major role in the success of our youth.
Employment at YSA is fun, challenging and — most importantly — extremely rewarding. Our jobs provide plenty of opportunity for growth — we take a lot of pride in that fact. We look for committed Youth Mentors who are interested in empowering troubled youths. We focus on building relationships of trust, growing confidence, teamwork, and positive decision-making skills.
Our 56-bed camp is located on over 452 acres in Carbon County Pennsylvania. With expansive mountainous and valley views in the winter and still, lush wilderness trails in the summer, there is no better place to experience the power of nature to heal.
Our number one priority at YSA, is keeping our students safe, period. Nothing is more important than this. Because outdoor education and adventure activities often have elements of inherent risk, ensuring these risks are mitigated is essential to all members of our team. Our team of qualified facilitators complete multiple activities specific trainings for each adventure component.
It is essential that our students also feel social and emotional safety which allows them to experience change.
In addition to technologic safety features at our camp, our Youth Mentors receive numerous specific training on everything from first aid/CPR, to vehicle safety. A structured training and check-off system, ensures that our Youth Mentors have proven their ability to meet YSA’s standards.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), a federal law enacted in 2003, was created to eliminate sexual abuse in confinement settings (both juvenile and adult). Our Camp is required to abide by PREA as of August 2012. The Camp underwent its first PREA audit in 2015 at which time PREA compliance was attained. As per federal regulations, audits occur every three years. Please click here for information about our PREA policy.
The ACT (Adventure, Challenge, Therapy) Model:
Adventure– We use adventure because it works. Together our students and Youth Mentors break through boundaries, build self- awareness, and learn that they can do hard things.Youth utilize experiential adventure programming to apply the skills and concepts learned in clinical counseling. Youth are encouraged to take healthy risks to discover their true abilities. Students then transfer this newfound belief in their own potential for success back into their lives. Youth have safe opportunities to climb, backpack, hike, and kayak to name a few.
Challenge– Our students challenged to leave the outside world behind. They have the opportunity to spend time surrounded by the natural beauty of the Pocono mountains. They are exposed to the unique landscapes the area has to offer while meeting their unique needs and removing them from the negative influences present in their everyday life. This step acts as a “reset button” for teens facilitating growth and change in a safe and monitored environment. Our camp setting provides the epitome of experiential treatment, happening 24 hours per day, blended with traditional individual, group, and family therapy sessions.
Youth begin the journey to greater accountability by first learning how to experience challenge. In order to grow and change, youth must be challenged in different ways and to succeed youth must change for the better. Through mentorship and role modeling of behaviors by our Youth Mentors, youth are challenged to examine their world differently. They begin to look at themselves, others, and their community from a new perspective. By navigating challenges, youth begin to explore their own fears and personal obstacles. Here our students are most uncomfortable, but it is where the most growth can occur.
Therapy– Our therapeutic professionals are passionate about improving the lives of their students, building transferable skills and lasting change. Our family systems treatment approach works to build strong support systems.
At YSA we work with adjudicated adolescent boys and girls, ages 13 to 20 struggling with a variety of behavioral problems, trauma, substance abuse/dependence, school problems, and relational difficulties. Our students learn how to problem solve, face and conquer fears, connect with others on an emotional level while they are gaining leadership skills and building self-efficacy. Using an individualized, strengths-based approach, YSA can effectively treat adolescents struggling with a wide range of issues by emphasizing skill building, developing personal strengths, and the promotion of self-efficacy. Please click here for a student profile.
We do not treat current untreated sex offenders, students with a history of significant aggressive or assaultive behavior, certain severe clinical diagnoses (e.g., active psychosis, extreme conduct disorder, autism spectrum disorder), certain severe health conditions and very low cognitive function. For more information on the exclusionary criteria, please contact our admissions team.
For more information on the exclusionary criteria, please contact our admissions team.
The ACT camp team is comprised of experienced, dedicated, and well-trained professionals in the field of adventure therapy programing. Director Kris Caffier, LCSW, CAADC , leads a committed and caring team of Administrators, Therapists, Counselors, Educators, and Youth Mentors.