10 Questions to Ask When Selecting an ADHD-Friendly Camp
Nov 7, 2012 (updated Sep 26, 2013)
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What's the best fit?
Many parents prefer their kids to go to day camps for financial and practical reasons, but every year, thousands of kids spend a week or more at sleepaway camp, too. Knowing what camps appeal to you and your child can help you determine what kind of plan you'll need to get ready.
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Is it accredited?
Many local, religious and other community organizations offer well-run day camps, but if you're curious about a camp's reputation, check the American Camp Association's website to determine if the one you've picked is accredited.
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What's the ratio?
As any parent knows, sometimes even a few children together can seem like a huge crowd, particularly if all or some of those children have challenging behaviors. Find out the ratio of campers to counselors at your child's camp. It may help you understand the level of attention they'll be getting, and their level of supervision.
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What's the schedule?
Nobody knows your child's schedule the way that you do. Find out what a typical day is like at camp. You want to make sure that you're comfortable with the amount of time spent on certain activities. For instance, do the campers get a rest period? If it's a very active day and they don't get a rest period, you have to consider whether your child will be happy and healthy without a rest.
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What about homesickness?
No matter how old or independent your child is, if they're not used to being away from you, they may suffer from homesickness. Find out what the camp's policy is on communicating with your child and whether it's possible for you to call or e-mail them.
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What are the credentials?
Many camp counselors are college kids or former campers themselves. That's usually a good thing, since those young adults are more likely to have the energy to keep up with your little bundle of energy. But it's still a good idea to find out whether your child's counselor(s) have experience dealing with ADHD.
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How are medications handled?
Most camps are used to dealing with children who need everything from daily allergy medication to insulin shots, but it's still vital to know how your child's ADHD medication will be handled. Skipping doses, or even giving medications at different times of day, can affect your child's enjoyment of activities.
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How is discipline handled?
Ask about the disciplinary process. Is there a formal behavior plan that you can look at? If there is no clear disciplinary procedure, that's a red flag. This lack of a formal process might be okay for kids who are perfectly behaved (about as common as a unicorn), but it doesn't work for kids with ADHD or even kids who are high functioning.
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How can I put my knowledge to good use?
Use your knowledge of your child's challenges to get a clearer idea of what they might face at camp. Do they struggle with sleepovers? Are they used to sleeping late, or being allowed to set their own schedule? Understanding these factors can help you prepare your child for what they'll face at camp.