Campfire Confidence: ADHD Summer Programs That Build Skills and Confidence

These ADHD summer camps offer more than canoe trips and S'mores. Here's how three ADHD boys built up self-esteem, social skills, organization, and academic strategies at sleep-away camps that made a difference.

You Gotta Have Friends

Julie Bloomer's 12-year-old son, Ryan, had gone to a summer camp sponsored by the local recreation department. It didn’t go well.

"The kids complained about him — 'Ryan did this or that' or 'Ryan won’t leave me alone,'" she says. "So we thought that a camp for kids with ADHD would benefit him. We wanted the camp to work on Ryan’s social challenges, to build up his confidence, along with helping him learn to react appropriately in different social situations."

Ryan's academic challenges were also on Julie’s summer-camp to-do list. Ryan forgets things he learned during the school year, so reviewing academics was important.

Julie decided on Camp Kodiak, in Ontario, Canada, which has a range of programs to meet both goals. It has swimming, tennis, canoeing, overnight camping, fishing, as well as opportunities to interact with other campers. Ryan worked at putting on a play and participating in sports that downplay competition. "He loved the fact that the camp emphasized cooperation, not competition."

Ryan sent his mother a letter from camp. "He told me that he missed me but was having a great time," says Julie. "Then he listed his favorite things to do. It meant a lot to me knowing that he was having a good time!"

Camp Kodiak encourages the kids to keep up with campmates after they return home. Everyone in the cabin gets a list of names and contact information for everyone else — and Ryan has stayed in touch.

"Family and friends have all noticed how much Ryan has matured," says Julie. "Ryan's teachers comment on his progress, too. He seems to be working so much harder in school. Ryan grew up a lot over the summer."


Melissa Orlov is the author of The ADHD Effect on Marriage.


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