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Camp Baker: Effective Treatment, Equal Opportunity

As we near the end of ADHD Awareness Month, we also approach the end of the year. Fall will soon transition to winter, and winter to spring, spring to summer. For many caregivers and kids, summer is a time they look forward to all year. No school, plenty of time with friends, and summer camps await. What about a child with ADHD?

The reality is that summer can be a nightmare for kids with ADHD who aren’t receiving treatment. What is typically a positive time for most children can turn into a daunting experience. Not having school may seem fun for a kid without ADHD, but for a kid with it, it means months away from consistent structure. This has been shown to lead to academic regression, and kids with ADHD end up arriving back to school in September already behind and often anxious after being away for so long.

What about socializing? Fun with friends seems like a fool-proof summer activity for all kids, but it can be difficult for a child with ADHD to be surrounded by a group of other children who can’t understand what it’s like to have impulses they can’t control.  The other children may wonder why the child with ADHD acts in a certain way or may need help with certain things. This can lead to intense feelings of isolation.

What about summer camps then? It stands to reason that both kids with and without ADHD should be able to enjoy those, right? Well, that’s half true. While kids with ADHD should be able to enjoy a typical summer camp experience, that’s not always the case. Many kids with ADHD are turned away from traditional summer camps and labeled as too difficult or distracting to participate in the program.

So that’s three major issues children with ADHD face when summer hits. Where are these kids supposed to turn to? How can they be afforded the same opportunities as other kids? Luckily, Judge Baker Children’s Center recognized what big hurdles these things can be and introduced a summer program specifically for kids with ADHD. Formerly known as the Summer Enrichment Institute, Camp Baker is a comprehensive summer camp program that aims to send kids back to school feeling confident and engaged.

The idea is to create an experience that provides both structure and treatment for a child with ADHD, while still offering them a typical camp experience. After all, this should be something all kids can participate in, not just those living without ADHD. Camp Baker is structured in such a way that kids learn to combat their symptoms through skill-building and academic periods, but this is layered into fun camp activities such as swimming, playing sports, and hiking. That way the kids get a real summer camp experience while still being exposed to techniques that will help them when it’s time to go back to school. It’s the best of both worlds for kids with ADHD.

Camp Baker is based on the Summer Treatment Program (STP) model, which is an evidence-based (more info on what that is in our other blog post!) program that has received commendations from the American Psychological Association, The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). Part of this model is including structured parent/caregiver training sessions. Camp Baker offers these sessions each week of the program to help parents and caregivers get up to speed on the skills their children are learning.

 Summer 2020 registration for Camp Baker opens January 1, 2020. Visit campbaker.org for more information, or if you’d like to support the program, consider making a donation by clicking here.