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Trails Carolina Investigation Highlights Need For Greater Transparency, Accountability and Oversight in Wilderness Therapy

Trails Carolina, a wilderness therapy program for troubled teens, has gained both praise and criticism within the industry. Parents report life-altering changes for their children while others express doubt over its safety and effectiveness.

Concerns over staff training and safety have led Trails Carolina Investigations on numerous occasions. This article explores the need for greater transparency, accountability and regulation within the wilderness therapy industry.

Legal Requirements

Trails Carolina’s allegations of abuse underscore the necessity of more transparency, accountability and oversight in wilderness therapy programs that serve vulnerable adolescents in remote locations with little supervision.

Former students and their families have reported emotional abuse such as name-calling and belittlement; as well as physical mistreatment including poor food or shelter, harsh camping conditions, punitive isolation. Furthermore, these former students and families have complained of inadequate medical care, poor camp conditions and difficulty communicating with staff members.

New Leaf maintains that primary therapists are on site two to three days each week to oversee participants’ individual treatment plans, but Hyde contends training was limited and staff turnover high at its facility. Hyde believes most staff don’t possess the credentials needed to provide effective care for troubled teens at New Leaf’s facility. Meanwhile, New Leaf claims its employees participate in numerous training sessions covering first aid, nutrition, and suicide prevention.

Ethical Considerations

Trails Carolina “Investigation” has provided families of troubled teens an effective solution, yet recent reports of abuse and mistreatment demonstrate the necessity of greater oversight within wilderness therapy industries like Trails Carolina.

Physical abuse to emotional neglect are among the allegations made against these programs, prompting participants and their families to demand an extensive investigation from regulatory authorities and independent investigators.

According to state records, Trails Carolina was subjected to annual inspections up until 2014, when it was cited for numerous violations and promised to fix them. But inspections didn’t occur on time and DHHS failed to follow up on complaints against it – leading to one 17-year old participant named Lansing running away and then climbing up a tree before falling into a creek where he died; five hours passed before staff called for assistance before eventually calling DHHS who are presently investigating his death.

Transparency and Accountability

Many families have voiced their concern that Trails Carolina does not adequately communicate their children’s safety or progress while attending its program. Furthermore, some students allegedly experience unregulated practices like physical restraint and isolation rooms as well as neglect without access to appropriate medical care.

Some former participants have also reported experiencing emotional and psychological abuse by staff members. According to them, staff used their power by humiliating or belittling them; others have reported feeling isolated from friends and family due to being in the program which caused emotional distress.

As troubling reports surface, Trails Carolina must treat this matter with care and concern. They must assess their therapeutic methods to ensure student safety and emotional well-being are prioritized at all times; additionally they must cooperate fully with any investigations into its operations.

Response to Allegations

Due to disturbing reports from former participants and their families, Trails Carolina is currently under scrutiny from regulatory bodies and independent investigators. An ongoing investigation is being conducted, and its outcome will likely play an instrumental role in shaping its future direction.

Allegations against Trails Carolina program have included emotional abuse, neglect and physical maltreatment of students. One former participant sued in 2022 alleging sexual misconduct by staff at Trails Carolina that sexually abused their 14-year-old daughter at the facility.

Many of these claims center around staff training and screening procedures. While Trails Carolina states that all its staff receive extensive training in areas like first aid, nutrition and suicide prevention, former staff have raised serious concerns about these practices; staff-to-student ratios do not align with industry standards which raises significant ethical considerations while potentially jeopardizing safety of its programs.


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