Summer camp can be a safe place where kids with ADHD can learn, grow, and do fun things that will help them when they go back home and start the school year. There are many camps to choose from,but figuring out which camp best suits your child’s needs can be challenging. Besides a child’s age and level of independence, you need to understand how well he or she reacts to the stress of being away from home. A little research into camping options, costs, and availability can mean a happier summer for both your child and you.
When you are looking for the right camp,some special considerations to be aware of:
- Type of camp experience – For example, are there new adventures and scenery to help those who thrive on novelty?
- Staffing ratios – Camps with a higher staff-to-camper ratio are probably better able to help kids with ADHD.
- Staff training – Camps that train staff members to help students affected by ADHD or other learning disabilities are better choices.
- Sharing options – Camps that allow friends to share a unit means your child and a friend could go together.
It’s important to let your child be part of the selection process. The more actively engaged the child is in the process, the more likely they are to feel positive and excited about the camp experience.
Try to select a camp experience that is most aligned with their interests and temperament. For example, what are your child’s interests? Would he like to try new physical adventures such as rock climbing and rafting, or a sports-focused camp, or a summer program that focuses on arts or academics? Would they be comfortable with a sleepaway camp, or would he prefer a day camp closer to home? Not all kids are ready for the experience of being away from home overnight. Also, some children may prefer a summer program experience to a summer camp experience.
Another key consideration is cost. Sleepaway camps can be expensive. However, some camp organizations financial assistance or scholarships if you reach out to them early. Also, service organizations in your area, such as the Lions Club or Kiwanis, may have programs to help pay for camps for local residents. Area businesses are another possibility. You can find information on funding from the American Camp Association at Affording Camp.
Choosing a less costly experience is another option – e.g., day camps. Day camps offer the same opportunities to meet people, learn new skills, and master self-care and impulse control.
The summer camp can be a great chance for your ADHD child to learn new skills and develop socially. The right planning up front can give them a happy and memorable experience, at a cost that won’t break your budget.