True North is a comprehensive wilderness therapy program for struggling teens and young adults, located in the Green Mountains of Vermont. True North provides safe and supportive environment where teens and young adults can address struggles, build confidence, and prepare for a successful future. Through a combination of focused therapy, daily goal-setting, and powerful outdoor experiences, students are challenged to understand themselves better and work toward positive individualized change.

Presenting problems include:

  • Mood disorders: Depressive and bipolar disorders
  • Anxiety and trauma disorders: Generalized and social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, grief
  • Substance misuse: Mild to moderate alcohol and drug use
  • Oppositional defiance: Disrespect, dishonesty, resistance to limits and boundaries
  • Relational issues: Family conflict, peer problems, attachment and adoption issues
  • Academic problems: School refusal, low motivation, academic decline
  • Cognitive issues: ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders
  • Other problematic behaviors: Disordered eating, self-harm, technology addiction

Sophisticated clinical methods are combined with an emphasis on self-reflection and a variety of adventure-based activities to help students develop proficiency in social, emotional, and independent living skills. Highly skilled guides and experienced therapists are committed to caring and non-punitive approaches that encourage confidence and personal growth.

All students complete a written curriculum with an emphasis on personal development, life skills, outdoor living, team building and leadership skills, earth science, local history, and orienteering. Each student progresses through four phases at their own pace — developing internal motivation and establishing consistency with new coping skills as they move forward.

Summer Program

A summer program runs May through November. Young adults camp Monday through Thursday, when they participate in weekly service projects, yoga classes, cooking/wellness classes, individual assignments, and expedition planning. From Thursday through Monday, young adults participate in a variety of weekly expeditions throughout Vermont and the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York that include backpacking adventures, canoe trips, and rock climbing. Students learn and master a variety of outdoor living skills including building fires using both flint and steel and bow-drilling methods, knot tying, orienteering, shelter building, and more. Students focus on the development of independent living and executive function skills — building confidence as they work together to complete daily tasks including gathering water and materials for fires, cooking, and managing their campsites. Students are assembled into groups of seven or less, to maximize individual attention.

Winter Program

A winter program runs November through May. During the winter program, students are based on a 250-acre winter campus, where they participate in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, and sleep in heated wall tents, yurts, and rustic cabins. Every other week, students participate in four day expeditions off-campus in both Vermont and the Adirondacks (in upstate New York). Young adults participate in day hikes, snowshoe treks, downhill skiing or snowboarding, cross-country skiing, yoga, cooking classes, indoor rock climbing, and weekly service projects. Backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing, and other expeditions are planned by students and occur every two weeks. During expeditions, students typically sleep in heated yurts or cabins, and work on mastering a variety of outdoor living skills.

Graduation and Transition

The average length of stay is 10 to 12 weeks, with the goal of deep and lasting change. The program works closely with students and families to determine the best way to capitalize on gains made in the wilderness, and translate new skills as they return home. Customized transition plans are developed for each student in preparation for their graduation from True North.


As a licensed Residential Treatment Center and mental healthcare provider, True North falls under the category of Critical or Essential services as determined by the Vermont Agency of Commerce. As such, True North remains open and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, although additional screening and safety measures are implemented.


For more information, contact the True North program at:

True North Wilderness Program
P.O. Box 857 (mailing)
5354 Main Street
Waitsfield, VT 05673
Tel: 802-583-1144
Fax: 802-583-1104