For most parents, summer camp conjures up thoughts of sun-filled days in the fresh air, doing crafts, singing songs, and making new friends.
But, for parents of children with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD), there are also a host of concerns. Will their child fit in? Will he make friends? Who will monitor his medication? What will happen if he needs to be disciplined? Can he handle being away from home? Will he lose the academic gains made during the year?
Bonnie Kayne never thought her son, Charlie, 13, would attend summer camp. “Charlie has ADHD and has a hard time making and keeping friends,” she says. “Early on, he was labeled the bad boy, and the reputation stuck, well into middle school.”
Kayne says that Charlie eagerly approached her about attending an ADHD camp, after he met a friend at school who had attended the year before. “Charlie has been going to camp since he was 10,” she says. “He can be himself at camp, without fear of being labeled or teased by the other kids.” Kayne says that the benefits carried over into the school year. “Charlie has more confidence and is able to compromise more easily, two things that were very difficult for him.”
These days, parents have many ADD camps to choose from—how do you select the best one for your child? We spoke to ADD camp directors and parents, and found that, although camp programs are different, the best ones share most of the following characteristics.
- A strength-based program. “A summer camp should focus on what the child does well, and help him succeed at it,” says John Willson, of SOAR, which runs camps in North Carolina, Florida, Wyoming, and California. “Our students often experience a high level of perceived failures—at school, on the playground, at home. It is crucial for them to succeed when they go to camp.”
This article comes from the Spring 2008 issue of ADDitude.