ADHD Camps and Wilderness Programs for Teens

One of the challenges for parents with ADHD teens is figuring out what they can do over the summer vacation. ADHD teens need a clear structure at home and a lot of productive physical activities. A lot of teens that don’t have this kind of concrete daily routine find themselves restless and agitated. Heightened symptoms almost always results to getting into trouble or regressing into their usual spacey, antisocial selves, making it harder to go back to school after summer’s over.

One option that parents can consider is sending their ADHD teens to a specialized wilderness camp. Studies show that physical activities in a “greener” setting help calm children and teens with ADHD. Wilderness camps also have activities that aim not just to calm teens down but also to help them open up and communicate with other people around them.

Here are a few of the things you can expect from ADHD camps and wilderness programs for teens:

  • Consistent routines – Working parents find it difficult to establish a consistent daily routine that their teen will follow when not being guided and monitored constantly. In ADHD camps, routines are consistent from morning to evening. Studies show that a consistent routine helps teens with ADHD sleep better. When teens get a good night’s sleep, they also tend to feel better through the rest of the day when they wake up. Wilderness camps ensure that their staff make the consistent routines as enjoyable as possible for teens. Most camps also take steps to help campers remember the schedules like posting these schedules around the camp grounds.
  • Personal growth through adventure – Traditional wilderness camps are based on the premise that personal growth can be attained through adventure. Camps and wilderness programs for ADHD teens are based on therapeutic models that encourages an understanding of responsible risk taking. Trained staff are usually on call on a 24-hour basis within the camp to help facilitate activities that will help teens understand what responsible risk taking is all about.
  • Activities that put emphasis on cooperation – Wilderness camps for ADHD teens are conscious about helping teens overcome shyness and the tendency to isolate themselves from others. Such tendencies are borne out of a fear for rejection. Campers respond better to this safer, more accepting atmosphere. Socialization is one of the most common problems of teens with ADHD. They often make the mistake of trying to please the wrong kind of crowd in an effort to be accepted by a group. In therapeutic teen wilderness camps, teens will be encouraged to foster healthy kinds of relationships with other campers through sharing activities that are also designed to develop body, mind and spirit.
  • Healthy daily routines – Wilderness camps put a lot of emphasis on healthy living. Eating a balanced diet, a healthy amount of physical activities, and healthy sleeping habits help control ADHD symptoms as well as significantly improves the behavior of teens.
  • Hands-on type of learning – Experiential learning in an outdoor environment help teens with ADHD learn new skills as well as helps reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Not to mention that it’s a lot of fun.
  • A wide variety of physical activities – Wilderness camps have a lot of adventure-based activities such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking and the likes. Each camp offers varied activities that your teen will enjoy. Before going out to experience these adventure-based activities, teens are also taught what social skills they will need in order for them to be successful in these activities. It’s not all outdoor physical activities, though. Many wilderness camps offer quieter activities such as arts and crafts which also has a relaxing effects on teens with ADHD.
  • Processing what they’ve learned – Most wilderness camps use breakout groups before activities to process what they’ve learned so far. Giving and receiving feedback, teaching teens how to socialize as well as handling conflicts and using problem-solving skills are core parts of these activities.

While traditional wilderness camps do have some therapeutic value, they’re not strictly based on therapeutic models that are suitable for teens with ADHD. Finding a specialized wilderness camp would be a better option.