Why summer camps work for children with ADHDSeptember 5, 2019
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are often categorized as those with limited attention spans, difficulty making friends, constantly moving (never sitting still, fidgeting, rushing off), prone to blurt things out, and challenged in following directions despite understanding what has been asked – to name a few. As any parent of a child with ADHD knows, the typical school year can be a strenuous time, often riddled with disciplinary measures as their child struggles to fit into the structured environment of a classroom. There is limited time for revisiting directions, re-directing attention, and helping children with ADHD to calm impulses and gather their energy to focus on a given task.
This is why summer camps work for children with ADHD: by focusing on the children’s strengths, giving them space to be who they are, and provide an environment that is inherently stimulating for a quickly-transitioning mind. Children with ADHD can be incredibly creative and quick problem solvers. Summer camps can provide an outlet for this creativity by offering a multitude of activities aimed at enhancing their abilities (arts, crafts, drama, sports) as well as offering a venue for problem solving (learn to kayak, build shelter, rock climb to a destination, overcome an obstacle, etc). All this is completed with supportive and highly-trained staff who are aware of the unique learning attributes and characteristics displayed by children with ADHD. Instead of rushing a child through an activity, camp counselors will allow extra time or offer reasonable accommodations for a child to encourage him or her to compete a task. Say they are distracted by the tones of the sunset presented on their evening hike and pause to soak in the color palate presented to them – the counselor can allow for additional time rather than rushing to get everyone back and then that youth will certainly encounter an opportunity to utilize his or her experience in other artistic modes. Summer camp provides the ability for children with ADHD to thrive in the chaos of the wilderness, under the guidance of support staff.
Children with ADHD may not have the easiest time making friends, as their neurotypical peers may be quick to judge them and/or tease them because of their characteristics. At summer camp for children with ADHD, the diagnosis is the norm rather than something that causes a child to be labeled differently and singled out. Children can build confidence with peers who understand their struggles and develop meaningful relationships which they seek to continue, often returning to camp for years to come. Imagine the joy of a parent seeing their child happy, confident, proudly demonstrating new skills learned at camp, and laughing with new friends. This is possible for all children with an ADHD diagnosis – simply review specialized camps online or with trained school personnel and investigate financial options! You won’t regret it!