Life-changing summer camp for kids with ADHD is fun, too

Videography by Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez


“School is like one hour of play and seven hours of work. Camp’s seven hours of play and one hour of work.”

That’s what Collin Goodrich, 8, thinks of Camp STAR, a summer treatment program for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other behavioral, emotional and social difficulties.

The seven-week camp (the name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues) for ages 6 to 12 is a partnership of UIC and the Jewish Council for Youth Services. It is the only program of its kind in Illinois.

“Children with ADHD are so used to getting negative feedback from parents, teachers and peers. Camp STAR stresses positive feedback to change behavior,” said Andrea Chronis-Tuscano,  clinical associate professor of psychiatry and an internationally-recognized expert who worked with the developer of the award-winning summer treatment program.

The comprehensive, evidence-based camp stresses social rewards and positive reinforcement through sports and recreation.

“They have fun and play games and they don’t really know they’re in structured therapy,” said Jason Goodrich, Collin’s father.

Camp STAR has been shown to improve the behavior and social functioning of children with ADHD, said Chronis-Tuscano, who also directs the ADHD program at the University of Maryland.

“It’s so rewarding to see many of the children, by the end of the summer, have had a successful experience. They feel better about themselves, they have developed friendships, and their families have acquired new skills to cope with their children’s behaviors.”

Every child receives an individual treatment plan to teach and reward social skills, improve attention and anger management, control impulsive behaviors and enhance self-esteem. The staff-to-camper ratio — one staff member for every two children — ensures that each camper gets individual attention. Camp staff are advanced graduate and undergraduate students in psychology, education, or health-related fields.

“To come all the way from England shows how great I think this program is,” said counselor Lewis Langford.

Weekly parent training sessions cover techniques to improve child behavior at home.

“We feel very empowered with Daniel to try and implement the things he’s learned in Camp STAR,” said parent Jacalyn Derengowski, whose 8-year-old son attended the program last summer.

“Camp STAR has been life-changing for Daniel, and for us.”

To sign up for next summer’s camp, call 847-814-7827.


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