Top 10 Reasons Summer Camp is a Good Idea for ADHD Kids

by Andrea Wackerle

10. Nature is the best teacher.

As in the poem by Dr. John Celes, “Nature is the best teacher we know.” It’s true. Nature can teach us more about ourselves than any classroom. When a camper looks over a mountain to an amazing scene of water and beauty below, it is surely stunning and reminds us that we’re a part of something much bigger than ourselves. It fosters a sense of humbleness and humility that just isn’t taught in schools (though they may try to!) Seeing a deer eating grass in a clearing can instill a sense of kindness and nurturing of other creatures. There are so many ways that nature can teach us, and these being just a few! With the guiding hand of staff and camp directors, kids can really gain a lot from this bountiful resource.

9. They get to channel their energy into something fun and active.

As a parent of a child with AD/HD, you may know that it can be difficult to find good activities for your son or daughter. At camp there is a plethora of activities for them to channel their energy into! Whether it’s going on a long hike, snorkeling in the Caribbean or learning to take care of a llama, there are a ton of things that we do to get kids active in positive ways!

8. Organizational Skills.

You may or may not know this, but organization is key to being outdoors, just as it is back home. This is something that’s integral to what we teach at SOAR. We have short, comprehensible lists for kids to follow that we call “the essentials,” we help kids organize the important things in day-packs and the bigger stuff in their regular backpack, and we help kids budget their spending money to make smart decisions rather than impulsive ones. For kids with AD/HD, I’m sure you can agree that these are very useful skills that are transferable to real life!

7. There are things you learn outside the classroom and home.

Apart from obvious things like rock climbing, surfing and scuba diving, there are a lot of things that kids can learn at SOAR that they just don’t learn at school and home. Independence, responsibility, organization and so much more.

6. Fosters independence.

Away from parents and teachers, in the “outside” world, kids learn how to become more independent. At home this can translate into brushing their teeth without being reminded, cleaning their rooms, offering to cook something we foster at SOAR. At school this can turn into more focused attention, homework being turned in on time and class participation. Independence is a necessary skill for adulthood, and that’s something we foster at SOAR. Being away from the family and school for a period of time really helps develop this skill.

5. Learning responsibility.

At SOAR, kids are responsible for many things. Their belongings, their feelings, the adventure, and in some cases their medication. One of the strategies we use for kids who aren’t wanting to take their medication is to put the responsibility in the kids’ hands. We’ll say “okay, we won’t bother you until 5pm about your medication, and if you haven’t taken it by then we won’t get to go fishing today,” or something similar. This counter-intuitive method actually works a majority of the time! When giving kids responsibility, they can do amazing things.

4. Beautiful friendships.

Being on an epic adventure with 8 strangers for 10-26 days can really bring kids closer together. The friendships that the kids at SOAR make can last a lifetime, and many of them do. We’ve been around for nearly 40 years, and some of the original kids in our early years are still friends to this day. Watch this video from SOAR Director John Willson about Danny and a friend who comforted him when he was feeling homesick.

3. Understanding things about themselves they never knew.

When the course is complete, we have kids fill out an evaluation, which includes things like “which course would you like to try next time?” and “how was your staff’s performance?” In addition to questions like that, we ask a very important question: “What did you learn about yourself?” The answers to this question are astounding! Kids say a variety of things, from simply “a lot,” to “I learned that I’m epic and AWESOME!” to more specific things like “I learned that I’m a good rock climber,” or “I learned that I like to snorkel.” The most touching ones however, read “I learned how to make friends more easily,” or “I learned to be more confident.” It’s truly remarkable to read all of these amazing things that kids learn in our programs.

2. Kids become more confident.

That leads us to number 2 in the countdown. Kids become more confident in a summer program. Through all of our courses, kids will learn this major piece. Whether it’s on the High Ropes Course at our Balsam Base in North Carolina, catching humongous fish at our Florida location, or riding a horse in Wyoming, kids learn a lot of great skills that all boil down to this. When they get home they transfer their confidence into their schoolwork, the house chores, their intelligence, their friendships and so much more.

1. A great experience that kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

This one really speaks for itself. Summer adventures can be an unforgettable memory that will stay with your child for years and years to come.