Summer camp for kids with ADHD starts June 17
It’s not just a summer camp. For children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Camp STAR can be a life-changing experience.
“At the end of camp, parents often describe their child as a brand-new kid,” said Janine Rosenberg, assistant clinical director of Camp STAR and University of Illinois at Chicago assistant professor of clinical psychology. “They can’t believe the transformation that takes place over the seven weeks of camp.”
Camp STAR (the name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues), a partnership of UIC and the Jewish Council for Youth Services, is the only program of its kind in Illinois.
The camp, for children entering first through seventh grade in the coming school year, runs weekdays, June 17 through Aug. 2, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in Highland Park, Illinois.
Camp STAR director Kristine Kent says the camp helps boost kids’ self-esteem.
“Many kids come to Camp STAR having had negative experiences at other camps, or at school, but at Camp STAR they fit in — they meet other kids who have similar issues or struggles, and together they learn new skills,” Kent said. “Some kids may have had difficulty forming friendships, but we find that at Camp STAR, they do make friends, and our counselors use a lot of positive reinforcement to facilitate and encourage those new friendships.”
The comprehensive program provides a fun camp environment with a focus on social rewards and positive reinforcement through sports and recreation. Campers express their creativity through arts and crafts, and they work on classroom behavior in a learning center. Other activities include weekly field trips, Friday cookouts, swimming and a graduation ceremony.
The approach has been shown to improve the behavior and social functioning of children with ADHD.
Every child receives an individualized treatment plan to teach and reward social skills, improve attention and anger management, control impulsive behaviors and enhance self-esteem. A 1-to-3 ratio of staff to campers allows each child to receive individual attention from the staff, which includes advanced graduate and undergraduate students in psychology, education and health-related fields.
Parents attend weekly group sessions to learn the techniques used at camp.
“Camp STAR works with campers’ families, not just to provide support through the summer, but to have a real, long-term impact by providing the tools for success that kids and parents can bring with them into the school year after camp is over,” Kent said.
Behavioral therapy principles used at Camp STAR are based on the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD, which showed that children who participate in a summer treatment program can succeed with lower doses of medication.
Scholarships are available, and many families are able to get insurance reimbursement.