Summer Camp Dilemma: Finding the Right Camp for Your Child

By Jennifer Taylor

For parents with kids who have ADHD and behavioral disorders, summer brings about new challenges as they seek summer programs.  Many parents cannot keep their children at home during the summer, so for some, these programs are an only option.  As a result, these children face several challenges transitioning into a new atmosphere with caretakers who are not familiar with their specific needs.

 

One of the main problems has to do with the short span that children will spend in any one particular summer program.  Some programs run for a few hours a day over the course of a week.  They end and parents enter the child into a new camp.  These camps are lots of fun, offer wonderful variety, and introduce your child to a world of different activities.  However, they provide little time for camp personnel, parents, and children to really get to know each other.  Often, it is this working relationship that is cultivated over the course of a school year that really provides a good grounding for the child to get the best care.  When a child has a teacher that works with parents and understands the unique needs of an individual child, that teacher is better equipped to handle each situation as it relates to that child.

 

Another issue that arises is that often summer camp counselors and personnel are teenagers that are off for the summer.  They provide needed high-energy activities and fun; however, they are not trained in how to handle child behavior issues when they arise.  This is especially problematic with a child that is on a specific behavioral modification plan.  Consistency both at home and away from home is very important for these children.

 

Summer camps cater to fun and exciting activities to keep children stimulated and make them want to come back.  Their main focus is not on the development of the child per se; rather one needs to look at them from a revenue standpoint.  They need happy, engaged children who enjoy coming there in order to have a successful summer program, and do not necessarily have to provide the same accommodations and services that public schools are mandated to.

 

This isn’t to say that summer camps aren’t wonderful.  My own child enjoys summer camps very much, and the camp organizers are always wonderful with him.  Understanding the overall makeup of the camps and realizing they are not the same as a school is important though.  They do not have the same resources and time available, and understanding this is important to having a successful summer experience.  So what should parents look for when choosing a summer program?

 

  1. First, check with your child’s pediatrician, school psychologist, or teacher to see if they have any recommendations on summer camps for your child.  Since these individuals know your child, they will be able to offer valuable advice on what programs may work best for your situation.
  2. Check to see if there are any long term summer camps available in your area.  Often you can find summer camps that last the entire summer.  These are a wonderful option for stability and formulating a working relationship with the camp personnel.
  3. Be upfront with the camp personnel about your child and about specific plans that are in place in relation to behavior and discipline plans.  Ask if these can be accommodated by the camp.  Also, ask the camp if they have any experience in these areas.
  4. Ask the camp what their policy is on discipline?  If it doesn’t mesh with your own personal preference or behavior plan than you may want to look elsewhere.
  5. Ask who the counselors are that will be overseeing your child.  Do they have any credentials?

Keep these questions in mind as you look into the different camps in your area.  By asking questions you will be able to find a camp that is right for your child, and your child will learn that summer camp is nothing but fun!

 

Jennifer Taylor is a freelance writer living and working in South Carolina. Happily married, she and her husband have one son. Jennifer believes that each child is a unique individual, and that parents should be able to decide on how to raise their children. She seeks to empower parents to seek out answers and find solutions. You can contact Jennifer at admin@jentaylor.org.

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