Considerations When Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Child

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Choosing a summer camp for your child with ADHD can be overwhelming. There are many factors to consider, such as do you want a camp focused on academics or one that may supply tutoring in certain academic areas? Or are you looking for a camp that will provide social opportunities and a time of fun, providing your child a break from the school year academics?


    In addition to what type of camp, you also must think about where the camp is located and whether it is convenient for you to get your child to the camp. Cost is certainly another consideration.


    But once you have checked out different camps and narrowed down your list, how do you decide which camp would be best?

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    Below are five questions you can ask to help you decide where your child will be best served during a summer program. 

    • Is special training provided to camp counselors on working with children with ADHD and other special needs? What does this training consist of? How are discipline problems, behavioral or social difficulties handled? Are all staff given specific instructions on handling children with ADHD so that consistency is maintained throughout the camp experience?
    • How are medications given? Is there a medical professional (psychiatrist, doctor, nurse) on duty at all times? Is medication dispensed only by medical professionals?
    • What is the ratio between campers and counselors? A high ratio may be ten campers to every one counselor, while specialty camps may have a ratio of three campers to every one counselor. The lower the ratio, the more one on one attention your child will receive from the counselors at the camp.
    • How does the camp handle communication between home and camp? For some children, regular communication with home is essential to their well-being at camp, other children may be happy waving good-bye to parents and not communicating again until pick-up time. Some camps may choose a no-communication rule, believing regular communication extends homesickness. Ask what the camp rules are and make sure they fit the needs of your child.
    • What do campers do all day? What activities are available for the children? How much free time is available for the children to choose their own activities and how much of the day is structured? (Depending on your individual child, too much free time may mean too much time to get into trouble.) Are the activities those that your child would find enjoyable? For example, if the camp offers boating, swimming, and other water activities, does your child enjoy the water?)

    Finally, check on whether the camp is accredited. The American Camp Association provides a directory of accredited camps for both mainstream and special needs camps.

Published On: March 18, 2009