Model of care

Comeragh Wilderness Academy is based on the model of care developed by Mr. Campbell Loughmiller, which dates back to the 1940s. By the 1970s, it had become widely operational in the United States. Campbell Loughmiller, known as the father of therapeutic camping, implemented the ideas of L.B. Sharp, who is considered the father of experiential education.

Their aim was simple: to create a therapeutic camping program. This initiative paved the way for other services to adopt their model of care. Here in Ireland, Comeragh Wilderness Academy has taken the lead in implementing this approach, not only through camping but also as the first independent boarding school of this kind in the country.

The model provides a unique opportunity for young individuals who face educational and behavioral challenges to confront their problems directly. To ensure that staff members are well-versed in the Loughmiller model, they undergo training at established camps in the United States, where they learn the intricacies of this model of care.

“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” 
Proverbs 11:17

At Comeragh Wilderness Academy, we take great pride in our adaptation of the model to Irish culture. It offers a one-of-a-kind experience that allows young individuals to reconnect with their roots and discover their true selves. Although there may be challenges along the way, these challenges are met with solutions and support from their fellow campmates and camp chiefs. The ultimate goal is for each young person to embark on a journey of self-discovery, find strength in nature, identify their weaknesses, and learn effective coping strategies for the future.

By implementing the Loughmiller model, a transformative process unfolds, granting the young person the necessary space to absorb and rediscover their education, which might have faded away over time due to the burdens of fear, rejection, or self-doubt. Within this model, the true essence of the young person is unearthed and nurtured, enabling their genuine self to flourish once again.

Research conducted in the United States has shown that many children who face challenges within the education system and who participate in this program return to school within 10 months to two years, performing at or above the academic level of their peers.

Comeragh Wilderness Academy spans 46 acres of land against the backdrop of the Comeragh Mountains. The camp provides an independent school experience for 10 children, overseen by two Chiefs. The children live in lodge-style tents arranged in a village-like setting, complete with porches, toilets, cooking facilities, and more. The classroom for education extends far beyond the camp’s boundaries and encompasses the vast lands and rivers throughout the southeast coastal area of Ireland.

Model of education

Our curriculum is not fixed or pre-determined. It is tailored to the specific needs of each child who attends our service. Since every child is unique, their education may vary as well. We do not allocate classrooms based on age groups; instead, we determine the appropriate educational setting based on each child’s therapeutic needs. We firmly believe that education, social development, emotional well-being, and mental well-being are interconnected and essential for a child to fully engage in learning.

The Loughmiller model has demonstrated that children respond more effectively to education when underlying issues of rejection, fear, or failure are addressed, and a path to successful outcomes is established. Through this model, children regain their self-belief and recognize their potential to thrive in life and education.

The educational component of the service has strong links to Aistear, Montessori, and the Steiner method of education. All components are child-centered and allow the child to explore hands-on education and work collaboratively with others in their educational setting, with the assistance of capable adults. This is achieved at Comeragh Wilderness Academy, where children learn to connect with themselves and others, and then explore the great outdoors together.

Our framework, akin to that of Aistear, embraces four interwoven themes that encapsulate the journey of children’s learning and development:

  • Well-being
  • Identity and Belonging
  • Communication
  • Exploration and Thinking
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Thessalonians 5:11

Drawing inspiration from Steiner and Aistear, our model deeply cherishes the complete nature of each child, directing our focus towards the fundamental essence of their being. We prioritize the child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being, recognizing that these aspects are intertwined with the educational component. Additionally, both Comeragh Wilderness Academy and Steiner philosophies, like Aistear, emphasize the importance of play and the freedom to explore and play according to the child’s needs. While we do not have a fixed curriculum like Steiner, we do offer a spiritual philosophy. Children work collaboratively in our setting to solve problems and reach positive outcomes together.

The school operates with two fundamental principles;

1. We do everything as a group and with a positive attitude.

2. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Tutoring is available for English and Mathematics on a weekly basis.

Subjects Available

Our educational curriculum is adapted to each child’s needs on an individual basis.

Subjects available:

English Maths
Science Geography
History PE
Music Irish
SPHE Home Economics
Art Religion
Languages Woodwork/Bushcraft
“your child’s new future awaits ”

Our school follows a rolling admission process, which means that we accept and review applications on an ongoing basis. To apply for a place at our school, please complete the enrollment form provided below and email it to along with all the required documentation.

Upon receiving your application, our staff will contact you to discuss your application and schedule an interview. Once the interview is completed, we will arrange for you to visit the school.

Enrolment Form
Parents Handbook

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. Fill in the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible