Summer will be here before we know it and children everywhere will be looking forward to the time of their lives – no school, extra time with friends, more time for hobbies we love, new adventures! Knowing which summer program to choose for your son or daughter can be a challenging task. Add in an ADHD diagnosis and it may seem that much more overwhelming. Rest assured, Talisman Camps provides a variety of programs from which you may choose to create the most phenomenal summer; not only for your son or daughter, but to the benefit of the entire family!
Youth of all ages, from 6 up to 22, who have Learning Differences such as ADHD have a range of options at Talisman. Our ADHD camps include Discovery, Foundations, Teen Adventures and Leadership. In all programs, we focus on the areas of social interaction, organization and personal responsibility. And we do this all while helping to build our campers’ self-confidence and independence, as well as giving them an unforgettable summer!
What should you consider when searching for an ADHD Summer Camp? There are a few key areas that you’ll want to focus on to ensure you select an ADHD Camp that is a good fit for your son or daughter. First up: consider your child’s interests as well as what types of things might help to expand his or her horizons, pushing their comfort zones to a healthy degree. Next, we’ll take a look at the importance of reviewing camp staff, the training provided by the camp, experiential components of the ADHD Summer Camp, your summer program budget, and how to choose a good amount of time away for your child.
Is your child interested in outdoor activities such as kayaking or fishing, or do they prefer indoor options such as arts and crafts? Is your child ready for a sleepaway camp or will a day program be a better fit? How does your child interact with neurotypical peers? Will your child benefit most from a mainstream inclusion program which enrolls both special needs and neurotypical children or would they do better with a specialized program made up of similarly-abled peers? Discuss these questions with your child, your family and the team who works with your child. This may include your child’s teacher, counselor, psychologist, medical professional, aid, etc. These individuals should be able to offer their input as to your child’s interests and abilities when you are not present, to help make an educated decision. Also remember that camp is meant to encourage your child to have new experiences and work outside their typical comfort zone, so you will want to identify a program that will meld with the overarching goals you and your child have, but also push your child to grow.
At Talisman, our ADHD Camp offers specialized programming designed for your child with ADHD and other learning differences. This allows campers to feel a higher degree of comfort, knowing they are surrounded by similarly-abled peers who may understand challenges similar to the ones they experience. Our sleep-away program provides campers with an opportunity to establish their own independence, away from their family unit, and gain confidence in their abilities to learn and thrive in the camp environment. In all of our ADHD camps, campers receive daily executive function coaching for tasks, such as morning and evening (hygiene) routine, chores, goal-setting and completion and camp projects. Daily planning and problem-solving, including conflict resolution, are slowed down and taken step-by-step through our group supported problem-solving process, allowing them time to think through decisions rather than act impulsively. High-interest and physical activities help them increase attention and learn to minimize distractions. Campers practice respectful and thoughtful interactions with others, building skills for more effective responses and improved relationships.
Get to know camp staff and their training/credentials – Talisman Camps employs dedicated expert staff at our specialized summer programs. Our management team includes owners Linda Tatsapaugh, Doug Smathers and Robiyn Mims. Together, they have been involved with ADHD, autism and Aspergers camps for decades. This is an owner-operated camp, so we have a special interest and passion for running a professional camp. Our camp staff members are college students or recent graduates who are studying a related field, such as education, outdoor leadership or psychology, and are seeking hands-on experience. Most have had experience working with young people, and all have been chosen because of their good judgment, compassion and insight into our population – children with autism and Aspergers.
Camp staff are provided with extensive training in order to provide the highest quality care for our campers. Staff receive training on Learning Differences as well as models of interaction to help meet the unique needs of students at our ADHD Summer Camp. We welcome any questions you may have about specific training and credentials for staff who will interact with your child, and encourage you to ask! It is important families feel comfortable and supported by the teams working with their children while away at ADHD Camp.
Each of our expedition-style programs has a unique focus, whether backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounding areas. Our ADHD Summer Camp gives kids the chance to experience adventure and learn exciting new skills. Prior to each off-campus trip, campers learn the wilderness, social, and communication skills they will need to be successful. We offer detailed instruction on how to read maps, set up tarps, paddle canoes and accomplish other tasks before the group departs so that each camper knows what to expect. Even while they’re exploring the wilderness, campers follow a consistent morning and evening routine and participate in processing sessions throughout the day.
All of our ADHD Summer Camps offer outdoor experiences, promoting exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition is of importance to us at camp and we offer wholesome meals with minimally processed foods, as well as limit sugar. We will assist your son or daughter in disconnecting from the electronics and getting fresh air! Many may initially be overwhelmed by such a prospect, but we can guarantee that your child will be successful in leaving the devices behind and enjoying our pristine outdoor environment. Our staff make sure to tune into how campers are processing the changes and can modify daily activities for individuals, or groups, as needed to successfully transition into the camp life.
We are grateful for your hard work and patience with my child. We can notice so many amazing changes in his behavior and the way he deals with everyday situations. He is his brothers are getting along better than ever before! We definitely will visit you next year! – Talisman Parent
It is so nice to know that there is a place where my child can feel comfortable. I only regret that I didn’t find your camp sooner! -Talisman Parent
Establish a budget – Summer camps can be costly, particularly if you are investigating specialized options and are not just looking at those close to home. There will be the fees associated with camp, travel expenses, as well as purchase of any items/clothing needed for the experience. Many parents see the value of the money spent for specialized summer camps and do not question the worth of the investment, but planning and budgeting can be a daunting task. If you need financial assistance, begin the process as early as possible and discuss options with the camp directly. Some camps offer campers assistance, typically with specific criteria and timelines. Be honest and direct when speaking with your chosen camp so you can get them information needed asap. National groups sometimes offer scholarships, such as Autism Speaks. You can also speak with your child’s school counselor to identify possible local options, such as through a local Kiwanis or Rotary club. Some children are further eligible for financial assistance through their state.
Choosing the right amount of time – If you and your family feel that your child is ready for a sleep-away camp, then we offer camps from 6-17 days in length. We find that a week provides a solid amount of time for your son or daughter to transition into the camp lifestyle, become comfortable with their peers and surroundings, and truly engage in the activities/environment. Some things to consider are whether or not your child has successfully slept away from home, even overnights or weekends with friends and extended family, and how your child fared during those occasions. Of course check in with your child to get a feel for their willingness to participate in a sleep-away program. While we can help your child push their comfort zones, we want to do so in a healthy manner. If your child is not ready or interested in a sleep-away program, he or she may be at risk for increased anxiety and problematic behavior. If this is the case, we recommend trying day programs through your community, such as those offered at YMCAs, schools, and local universities.
Unsure? Check out the great resources in our “video and podcast” section! We would love to talk with you and your child to answer any questions and help determine a good fit. Act quickly, our ADHD Summer Camp spots are filling fast!