"Quite simply, this program saved our child's life."
Parents have much to consider when seeking the right treatment for their child. At Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness, we're honored to be part of the journey to family healing for so many. We stand behind 20 years of program growth and development, a depth of research about the benefits of wilderness therapy, and our own first-hand experiences witnessing therapeutic transformation in the field.
The Blue Ridge community is strong today because of the families and students who have put their trust in our hands over the years. Explore our testimonials from alumni parents and students to learn more.
"Blue Ridge helped me with self-discovery."
“I found peace in the wilderness. That was something I didn’t know how to achieve. I found out I need to discover who I am. I only knew who I was supposed to be and who others told me I should be.”
"In therapy, I learned how to take other people’s feelings into account."
“I learned how to help other people through what they were going through because they were helping me in return. I never did that before”
"I learned a lot in nature.”
“Before I went to Blue Ridge, I never disconnected from my phone or anything. At first I just wanted to get in touch with my friends on Instagram and stuff... but I ultimately came to really appreciate time without it. I learned what I can endure and what I can grow from...I learned a lot in nature.”
"They sit with you, even for hours, and help you get through what you need to get through at that time.”
“There were a lot of staff members who would communicate with you one on one… and they would remember what interests you have. They would talk about things you want to talk about and they are always there for you."
"I didn’t realize how much Blue Ridge helped me until about a year after I went…"
“I realized I had the best friendships ever in my life and the best experiences in my life. I remember the sunsets and talking with staff and friends - it created memories.”
"Blue Ridge is a place you can send your children to."
“There are a lot of movements out there that are anti-wilderness...like TTI accusations. To parents I would say, do your research, and know that Blue Ridge is a place you can send your children to.”
Connor“I run a $1,000,000 million / year logistics business and I employ 60 people and have offices nationwide. I wouldn’t be running this company, I wouldn’t be contributing to my community if it weren't for Blue Ridge.”
RebeccaI genuinely don’t know where I would be today if I didn’t go to Blue Ridge… I am so grateful to have had this experience."
Heath"I’m better able to look into myself in a way that I wasn’t before I got to Blue Ridge."
"I actually probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Blue Ridge."
“I had always blamed others in my life for my circumstances rather than looking within. I learned my situation wasn’t all my fault - that I can’t blame myself for the parts that aren’t my fault - but that I have the control to manage the parts that are my fault.”
"As far as I’m concerned, this program saved my life."
“It was hard to accept that it’s OK to have problems. I grew up in a culture where, ‘Men don’t cry,’ and now I realize that’s an unproductive way to live.”
"Being in the wilderness gave me space and time to think about how I was showing up for relationships in my family"
“I lost my Dad when I was 15…I had a history of depression and a core belief that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. But being in the wilderness gave me space and time to think about how I was showing up for relationships in my family, but also to think about how others weren’t showing up for me. That set up a lot of healing and reconciliation.”
Light"I’m able to confidently say that I’m brave and strong and confident and kind. All of the things that I wanted to be, and couldn’t bring myself to think about myself."
Griffin“When I first showed up at Blue Ridge I was self-hating, I didn’t think I had much to offer. I thought I was a lost cause. I had trouble finding my worth and reason for existing. I didn’t understand why I didn’t feel good. It was chaotic and messy. At Blue Ridge I started to break down those feelings and I started becoming who I am today. It helped me structure and gather myself in an authentic way.”
Anna“I didn’t realize how much Blue Ridge helped me until about a year after I went… I realized I had the best friendships ever in my life and the best experiences in my life. I remember the sunsets and talking with staff and friends - it created memories.”
College application essay by Blue Ridge alumni, Ben Ross
"One day, we were hiking up a steep incline coming out of the Georgia wilderness. As we got higher, I was tired and out of shape. I wanted to quit. Badly. But upwards I went. At the top I was breathless. I felt tears on my face. I had not thought that I could do it, but I had."
Ben attended Blue Ridge in spring of 2020, just before turning 18. His father had recently passed, and there was tension in his family relationships.
"The biggest thing [I learned at Blue Ridge] was that when something got hard, I just didn’t give up… actually, trying became much easier than giving up. I gained a lot of independence and patience— I realized the importance of being a more healthy person physically and mentally- they really go hand in hand.”
Ben was accepted to every school he applied to. He is now a photographer, student and budding entrepreneur.
"This is the picture they take when you get to Blue Ridge... This was me, really scared and not sure what was going on. It’s crazy that this was the last image of me ever feeling this way."
Emerald Arrow Alumni Testimonials
"Emerald Arrow serves as a call to action. It 's intensive, and leaves no space for the avoidant behaviors that tempt each of us away from our bold paths. Students in Emerald Arrow work so hard and consistently that it becomes challenging to see themselves as anything other than strong, self-sufficient, and resilient. In each moment in the woods, the challenges and successes of the individual become the challenges and successes of the group. Each tough hike to retrieve water becomes an act of service for the nourishment of self and others. Every interpersonal conflict becomes a weight held by the group until they resolve to address it. When a student breaks through behaviors or ways of being that have limited them in the past, they are seen, celebrated, and learned from by the community around them."
Emerald Arrow Students Speak
"My time at Emerald Arrow consisted of laughter, tears, introspection, realizations, and growth."
"I had been struggling with low self-esteem, addiction, and every aspect of my life was seemingly unmanageable. I knew that if I didn’t venture out of my comfort zone, nothing was going to change, so I went for it. My time at Emerald Arrow consisted of laughter, tears, introspection, realizations, and growth. Emerald Arrow allowed me to rebuild myself and rebuild the relationships around me in the process."
"Emerald Arrow has vastly improved my relationship with my family.""I'm doing work here to better myself, they're doing work back at home to better themselves every single week... so it's not just a one-way process."
"I came out the other side of this program confident in who I am..."
"...my personality came back, and I had a new flourishing relationship with my family. I’ve had some bumps along the road since I left the program, but I now have a better understanding about why I do the things I do and better yet, I had learned the skills to cope and move forward. If things aren’t working, it may be time to break yourself down, learn about each and every aspect of yourself, go back to your roots and rebuild. You are what you make yourself. I now live each and every day with more self-awareness and compassion for myself and others. Nothing's going to work if you don’t work for it."
"I conquered mental and physical challenges I never thought I was capable of"
"...like bow-drilling. The moment you make fire for the first time is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. I felt powerful and capable because if I could make fire with two sticks, I could do anything (it’s also my biggest flex to this day and my best fun fact). It may sound silly, but making fire also lit a fire inside of me."
Emerald Arrow alumni parent writes memoir about her son's treatment journey
“The whole wilderness camp experience [provides] various lessons in self and group reliance. They learn how to be honest, humble, and what it means to have integrity… They are encouraged to journal, to talk openly. It truly is twenty-four-hour therapy, whether they know it or not.”