Change in Action

Experience what makes Elements different

An experience that’s all about adolescent boys and the families who love them.


We believe raising a teenage boy should be equal parts challenging and rewarding.  At Elements, your son is more than a client, more than a number.  He is the reason we do what we do. Join us at Elements and take the first step to lasting change.


Your son will have an incredible experience

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world

Wilderness is the purest setting for your son to drop his defenses, find his purpose, and a way back to his family and health.  The best way to optimize each minute of the journey is to keep that journey intact.  Our expansive and beautiful course area allows us to bring to him the opportunities for incredible adventures like climbing, rappelling, canyoneering, and low-ropes activities.

Family is the most important part of this process

We believe in you

We provide opportunities for families to be involved along every step of the way, and provide an extensive menu of opportunities for families to join their boys in person and forge a new future together.

Your family will feel at home with us

We are purposefully small

Wilderness therapy is most effective when run by a small, owner-operated system.  We truly love what we do.  You will have access to us on every level.

Your son will gain skills

We believe in practical and lasting change

We work hard to help your son maximize his potential, ensuring that every activity is not only therapeutic, but also transferable to life outside the wilderness. Insight alone is not enough.  Our boys need actual skills to cope with life’s stressors.  The same principle applies to your entire family.

Your son will get a path forward

We provide intervention, treatment, and assessment

Our job is to interrupt maladaptive and self-destructive behaviors, help our boys develop a new path forward, and provide everyone in the picture a real assessment of his needs so the next steps can be planned accordingly.

Letter from our Admissions Director

Wilderness-based treatment has exploded in popularity in recent years as parents and therapists have discovered its power to jumpstart the healing process.  The unfortunate result of this growth is that many programs have become larger and less specialized, losing some of the efficacy that made the concept popular in the first place.

On the surface, our students may be angry, depressed, anxious, or withdrawn, taking little or no responsibility for their actions.  They cope with these feelings by avoiding their responsibilities, shutting down, blaming others, or engaging in maladaptive mechanisms such as gaming, substance abuse, or overuse of electronics.  However, this presentation is simply symptomatic of a deeper struggle to cope with life’s stressors.  At Elements, we recognize and address these behaviors, but the real focus is on development of actual, healthy skills to encounter life differently.

Regardless of the clinical diagnosis a boy may carry with him to our door, be it oppositional defiance, depression, dual diagnosis, or autism spectrum disorder, all our boys benefit from our individualized approach to helping them meet their needs head-on.

With over 50 years of combined treatment experience, Karen Scrafford, Lynn Smith and I founded Elements Wilderness Program in 2008 to exemplify the sweet spot of wilderness therapy and to reclaim its power to heal.  Our success with families depends on a long-term commitment to staying small and specialized so that we can maintain the highest quality possible through a hands-on leadership approach.  Along with partners Neal Christensen, PhD, and Andrew Powell, MBA, we are not just owners of this program but we are also operators.

This commitment has allowed us to enjoy the kind of results that inspired us early in our careers.  Wilderness therapy, when done right, can truly change the lives of troubled young men and their families – we see it every day.

If you’d like to discuss your son’s situation or hear more about our specialized approach to wilderness therapy, I invite you to call or email me directly.  We are accessible to you any time.

Warmly,

John Karren, Co-Founder & Admissions Director
Email: john@elementswilderness.com
Cell Phone: 801-505-8481