"Everybody is a genius.."

“..but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing it is stupid”
– Albert Einstein

behavioural issues are just a symptom of a deeper problem

We believe that a child’s behaviour is influenced by his attitudes, and that his attitudes are shaped by his values. In order to realize lasting change with a troubled boy, we must do more than control his negative behaviour.

At Comeragh Wilderness Academy we avoid the “reward and punishment” philosophy used in popular behaviour modification programmes. In addressing behaviour, we focus on the attitudes and values that lie beneath his problems.

Effectively meeting a boy’s needs must involve every part of his life, including the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms. For this reason, spiritual values are intrinsically woven into the fabric of daily Wilderness Camp living and are reinforced by our staff as they model the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are displayed in the simplest ways – the love and understanding of a teacher, the forgiveness of one boy to another, and the helpfulness of a friend.

Home away from home

At the academy, students live in wooded campsites consisting of ten tent-like structures. Each tent in a campsite serves a specific purpose—one tent is for cooking, another for dining, and others for sleeping. Well-groomed trails connect all campsite structures, giving it the appearance of a small village. The tents are built with a pole frame, a vinyl tarp roof, vinyl walls, a plywood floor, and a wood stove for heating. Students participate in all stages of campsite construction including tent design, construction, and trail maintenance.

Developing Good Habits

A group’s normal day includes activities such as routine cleaning chores, cutting firewood for cooking and heating, playing group games, and campfire cooking. The group does the work required to provide the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter in the camp setting. Every student learns to make his bed, fold his clothing, and keep his living space clean and orderly. Campsite cleaning chores are part of the daily camping schedule. Good hygiene is emphasized in daily bathing and regular teeth brushing. Student participate in planning and cooking campfire meals twice a week.  The daily camping routines are designed to teach not only camping skills, but also essential life skills such as planning, teamwork and personal responsibility.

Wilderness Adventures in Teamwork and Learning

Several time a year, groups participate in wilderness trips geared toward developing camping skills, building group teamwork, or learning about some academic theme. These trips include canoeing, backpacking, or road tours. The duration of the trip may be from one day to three weeks, depending on the purpose of the trip and the ability of the group to carry out the trip responsibility.

These are exciting adventures that provide rich learning opportunities at every turn. These trips are planned and happen under the 24/7 supervision and guidance of each groups dedicated teachers. 


“Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

Group structure

Students live in groups of up to ten boys under the supervision of two teachers in the academy program. A group consists of boys in the same general age level, but with varying backgrounds and different types of problems.

This diversity adds strength to the group work process and reflects the reality of living in a normal community. We aim to maintain groups of four to five members who have stabilized and are able to provide accountability, cohesion, and a positive influence to the rest of the group.

Group living plays a major role in helping a boy achieve lasting change. Throughout everyday situations, a boy’s behavior is mirrored in the eyes of his peers. In this way, the group helps a boy to recognize his problems and provides a caring environment in which to address them.

Problem Solving

One of the primary goals of Comeragh Wilderness Academy is to provide an atmosphere where problems can be solved. The groups will cease whatever activity – working, eating, or playing – to huddle up and address a student’s inappropriate behavior or negative attitude. The Teachers guide the students in identifying the problem and then finding a satisfactory way to resolve it. This method of dealing with a boy’s negative behavior provides a meaningful lesson to the boy in trouble, as well as the rest of the group.

In addition, he acquires a problem solving technique, and a set of values that will serve him well for the rest of his life. As a boy sees his peers courageously dealing with their own problems, he begins to feel hope and inspiration for himself.


The teachers, called “Chiefs”, are responsible for direct care and provide the key to meeting the emotional needs of a student. Because the Chiefs live with the boys twenty-four hours a day and join them in all of their daily routines, they become keenly aware of the individual needs of each student.

Their dedication and care provide a secure atmosphere where healing relationships can occur. Building this relationship is not centered around a boy’s negative behaviour. Rather it is achieved through action – helping a boy make his bed, exploring the creek, constructing a new trail, paddling a canoe – that helps him move toward personal accomplishment.


“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed” – Maria Montessori

Learning By Doing

Our wilderness camping program provides an educational experience that is definitely unique.

Because most troubled boys have difficulty learning in the traditional classroom setting, academy education is approached in an informal, hands-on way. Learning is not confined to a classroom, but is an everyday, all-day experience.

Academics are built into the daily routines and activities. Each student is taught to use practical mathematics in the designing and construction of the tents. Weekly meal planning and cooking provides opportunity to learn about nutrition, budgeting, and home economics. Each week, students visit The Market, the academy store where they learn accounting and responsible budgeting. When the group plans the weekly schedule, a boy is required to cooperate creatively with others, and put his thoughts into words on paper.

Individual Study

Once a student is initiated into the academy and has mastered the basic academy routines, he is assigned book work based on his individual level. Individual tutoring is provided to campers with a difficulty in certain subjects.

In all of Academy learning, there is an emphasis placed on writing. All the writing a boy does at camp – articles, journals, tent designs, daily plans, poetry, drawings, is compiled into a portfolio that becomes his own when he graduates.

Back To School

Our academic program aims at preparing a boy to return to a conventional school setting. Upon completing the program, camp staff help the boy and his family create a smooth transition to the standard educational environment.

Achievement testing is used to determine the academic progress of each camper during the enrollment period and aids us in placing the boy in the appropriate academic setting after graduation.


“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” – Socrates

Partnering With Parents

At Comeragh Wilderness Academy, we place a high priority on reintegrating boys back into their homes and communities. For this reason, we make every effort to work closely with each family.

Our family workers keep in contact with the parents and meet with them regularly in their home. These meetings facilitate discussion concerning the boy’s progress in the academy, his specific areas of struggle, and how the family can support their son’s progress. 

The boy’s family is also required to participate in periodic evaluation conferences held on campus. These meetings engage the teachers, the boy, and his parents in a candid but caring dialogue regarding the student’s problems and progress.

Home Visits

The students return to their homes and families for a visit every six weeks. This four-day visit is carefully planned and monitored by academy staff and the parents. The home visit gives students an opportunity to apply what they are learning at the academy to the home setting and gives academy staff an effective way to measure the boy’s progress.

In this way, the home visits are an integral part of the therapeutic process.

When a boy completes the academy program, our family workers take an active role to ensure that the boy has a good transition back into the home and school. They also assist with any problems during this transition and are available for consultation as needed.

“By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” – Proverbs 24:4

About The Academy

Hear the story behind Comeragh Wilderness Academy, meet the staff and learn why we do what we do. 

Our Programme

Learn more about our academic programme which is based on the Wilderness Road Therapeutic Camping model. This model of education & care has been transforming lives for over 70 years. 

Contact Us or Donate

We are always happy to answer whatever questions you may have. Please follow this link which will bring you to our  ‘Contact us or make a donation’ page. 

Charlotte  Shillabeer
Charlotte Shillabeer@charlotte.shillabeer
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I sent my 12yr old son to the camp recently, and he enjoyed it immensely! There is a wonderful vibe at the camp, those working with the boys are genuinely community spirited and well qualified.part of the camp experience is to include the family in goal setting which helps to set a focus for improving the quality of life for the family. participants get to spend time without their tech, experiencing some time in the forestry, reconnecting with and learning about, the natural environment we are blessed with in Ireland, as well as their value as individuals within a group. my son loved woodcraft and gained a great sense of achievement learning to work with tools. the camp helps boys develop an appreciation for the environment and our place in it, their place in a community and the value of communication, validation as individuals, responsibility for self and community, working together, development of practical life skills such as routine, planning activities, cooking, splitting timber, using tools and physical activities, it all helped immensely to give my son as sense of personal achievement and confidence.
Richard Lee
Richard Lee@richard.lee.98892
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The camp is an excellent place to visit and well worth a day trip to see the exceptional work that has been done in the woods that will leave little or no footprint behind using locally source wood and materials. The staff and owners are absolutely brilliant and very welcoming to all.
Trina Nì Neìll O hAodon
Trina Nì Neìll O hAodon
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Comeragh Wilderness Forest School provides such an amazing fun filled camp offering an array of experiences. My boy Harry said today " I want to go for another 500 days!" My observations from behind the scenes as a forest school trainee leader can acknowledge the caring commitment the team have to offering the children support and guidance in their experiences. Activities such as Archery, bouldering, games, building shelters and fairy houses, to hiking and learning how to light fires, canoeing, bushcraft, obstacle courses and team building are some of the many opportunities children have when attending this camp. I have seen first hand children including my own child gain confidence and skills such as assessing risks, working as part of a team and learning to co operate while most importantly having fun. Connecting with this beautiful unspoilt setting enabled the children to gain appreciation for what nature has to offer. I can highly recommend this beautiful experiential camp for children. Throughout my time at camp children were voicing their stamp of approval saying things like "I'm coming back here every year, it's the best!!". Thank you Comeragh Wilderness, I'm am forever grateful.
Sinead Cronin
Sinead Cronin@SineadCronin
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Great space for young people to take time out and regulate themselves. Reflection and guidance given by chiefs in a kind and supportive way. Really recommend this camp for any family who have a child struggling emotionally and with their behaviour. Thanks to all the chiefs.
Michael Doorley
Michael Doorley@MichaelDoorley
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My son attended comeragh wilderness camp have to say that the best decision we made for him .The effort the camp made with everybody so friendly and welcoming lovely people highly recommended
Nicola Power
Nicola Power@NicolaMPower
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Fantastic camp, both my boys really enjoyed.