The Wilderness Program is a viable alternative for boys in grades 6–8 who require more structure in their lives. This experiential, therapeutic program operates in conjunction with, yet separately from, John de la Howe School’s campus program. Wilderness campers live in groups of eight in primitive campsites deep in the woods of the Sumter National Forest in close proximity to Lake Thurmond. Campsites are equipped with permanent wooden structures, but without electricity or hot water. One half mile away is a lodge that serves as the program’s administrative building, classrooms, dining hall and shower facilities.
Life in the Wilderness Program is very disciplined.
Students learn basic lessons in personal responsibility through daily life in structured, small group settings. They help build and maintain their camp buildings, clean their living area and plan for and cook all of their weekend meals which are cooked on a wood stove fueled by firewood cut by the students themselves. Campers stay busy, living on a schedule that requires them to use self-discipline, group motivation and planning to accomplish the daily tasks assigned to them.
Each morning students hike a half mile up a for academic instruction from certified teachers in one of two classrooms equipped in much the same manner as those in any public school. While mornings are devoted to academic core subjects for school credit, afternoons are spent participating in a number of outdoor experiential learning events that offer students the opportunity to apply their academic skills in daily life. These include equine therapy, construction projects, meal planning, nature skills, forestry, canoeing, rafting, backpacking and other events.