Second Nature (Wilderness Program)

Second Nature (Wilderness Program)


For almost 20 years, Second Nature Wilderness Program (SNWP) has been aiding adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 who are struggling with a range of mental, emotional, or behavioral health problems, such as drug abuse or learning disabilities. Though the main office is in Duchesne, Utah, camping locations vary. It is a wilderness therapy program wherein residents learn through outdoor experiences.


Individuals undergo an initial assessment that matches clients with a group suited to their individual psychiatric needs. For instance, those with similar struggles might be grouped together. Students, as they are called, recover through engaging in camping experiences such as building and tearing down campsites and hiking three to five miles each day. Groups operate like a family with each individual performing simple chores.

Students work through four stages of treatment called earth, water, fire, and air. Additionally, teens receive one to two hours of individual therapy each week as well as daily group therapy. Combined with the “healing power of nature,” staff utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) as well as psychodynamic, family systems, and developmental theoretical models. When necessary, clients also receive medication management.

Aftercare planning begins at the same time as treatment. Staff communicate with parents back home about medication changes and encourage participation in family therapy. The facility offers parent workshops and support groups and asks that parents participate in planning for continuing care.


The facility employs a clinical director and medical coordinator as well as therapists and a psychiatrist.


Residents stay in shelters they build themselves and are supplied with fresh food and water twice during the week to make meals. All gear needed to camp and hike is provided.


Reviewers reporting ratings to to date for SNWP provided mostly negative feedback. Two alumni were pleased with their experiences, while five did not recommend the program. Six of the seven reviewers who were asked about treatment effectiveness gave it a low average rating of 2.33 out of five stars.

Those who offered high praise for the program also indicated that it was hard and required a lot of work, including D.B., who added that the program is not for everyone and praised the loving staff. The same reviewer wrote: “I know it saved my life and the lives of the other girls in my group all who I have stayed in touch with.”

Those who did not recommend the program advised readers to do in-depth research before spending “buckets of money” sending a loved one to treatment. Jay was so upset by his experience that he wrote: “This is abuse not therapy. I was sent here after experiencing a traumatic event in my life and it made it worse.”


At the time of this writing, feedback from loved ones is also mixed. An anonymous reviewer awarded five out of five stars for treatment effectiveness in their positive review while A.A. only awarded one star. A.A. wrote: “Don’t. Send your kid somewhere local. Don’t ruin your relationship with them or have them come back with worse problems than they did before you sent them.”


A single staff member provided feedback for SNWP to to date. Staffer A.A. was once a client and more recently a employee of this facility. The reviewer gave high praise for all aspects of the program, except when it came to one of the superior employees. “All I can say is, I certainly would never send MY hurting children into such wildly incapable hands,” they wrote. Of the superior employee, A.A. said, ” It’s not okay that a hurting child “might” fall in with an employee such as this; it’s not okay that such a situation exists and perseveres at SNWP with zero awareness and so little opportunity for recourse.”


SNWP is out-of-network but provides materials for clients and their families to seek reimbursements from their providers.

Second Nature (Wilderness Program) Reviews

Don't send your child away. This place ruined a good 15 years of my life. I will forever have issues because i was sent there. My parents will forever regret sending me there. If you care at all for your child then you will not see these "programs"" as a solution. You may be desperate but if you send your child here you will carry deep regret for the rest of your life.
Best decision of our lives! Sent our 16yr old daughter here feeling hopeless and believing that she would hate us forever but what happened was nothing short of a miracle. The tools we all learned to cope with our feelings and emotions and deal with stress were life changing. She is now almost 20 and in her second yr of college and working part time