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Wilderness Challenge Programs for Delinquent Youth: A Meta-Analysis of Outcome Evaluations

NCJ Number
Evaluation and Program Planning Volume: 23 Dated: 2000 Pages: 1-12
Date Published
12 pages

The authors’ primary purpose for this report was to address the specific impact of wilderness challenge programs on juvenile delinquency.


Evaluations of wilderness challenge programs were meta-analyzed to assess the impact on delinquent behavior. The overall mean effect size for delinquency outcomes was 0.18 (N=22), equivalent to a recidivism rate of 29 percent for program participants vs. 37 percent for comparison subjects. Program length was not related to outcome among short-term programs (up to 6 weeks) but extended programs (over 10 weeks) showed smaller effects overall. However, the most influential program characteristics were the intensity of the physical activities and whether the program included a distinct therapeutic component. Programs involving relatively intense activities or with therapeutic enhancements produced the greatest reductions in delinquent behavior. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2000