Wilderness Camps for Teenagers with ADHD

Summer can be quite a challenge for both teenagers with ADHD and their parents. While school may keep them busy and productively occupied during schooldays or while away at boarding school, their routines tend to be different during summer. Most parents these days both work to earn a living and at times it’s really not workable to have one of the parents stay at home to enforce a structured schedule on teenagers with ADHD.

Unfortunately, many teenagers with ADHD suffer setbacks on their progress because of poorly managed routines over summer. This is especially true for teens who live in an urban setting where there isn’t much space to explore and have healthy physical activity. One of the best solutions to this kind of situation is to enroll ADHD teens to specialized summer camps. Wilderness camps for teenagers with ADHD can be very helpful in putting teenagers in a greener, more wilderness-like setting. Studies have shown that putting children and teenagers in settings such as these have a calming effect on them and help them minimize the symptoms of ADHD.

A specialized camp for teens with ADHD will be more advisable than traditional types of summer camps. ADHD teenagers have their own special needs which may not be easily accommodated when they are mixed with children and teens who do not have ADHD. For example, children with ADHD should not be allowed to roam the camp grounds and trails by themselves because they can easily lose their way back. They are easily distracted and have a hard time remembering things, much less directions around a wilderness settings. Because of this, wilderness camps for teenagers with ADHD are usually divided in smaller groups. This allows the camp staff to focus more on their small group, which is exactly what your teen will need. Close supervision by staff members who are well trained to handle children and teens with ADHD will be available on a 24-hour basis.

Since it’s a wilderness camp setting, teens also enjoy a lot of physical activities, away from technology that oftentimes have bad effects on their personal development. When teens are left by themselves, without venue for healthy physical activity, they find computers and video games a source of entertainment. Studies have shown how detrimental this could be to the social and mental development of your teen. In specialized wilderness camps, access to this kind of technology is very limited. One of the challenges teens with ADHD face is socializing with peers. In wilderness camps, there’s a lot of emphasis put on this. Instead of sitting at home, spending hours upon hours on video games, specialized teen wilderness camps promote healthy physical activities with other teens such as swimming, hiking, fishing, chopping wood, and more.

When looking around for a good wilderness camp to enlist your teen in, consider the following questions:

  • How are the activities structured? – Wilderness camps for teenagers with ADHD usually have well-structured, predictable routines in order to help your teen adjust to the environment. Predictability is a key factor in creating an atmosphere conducive to learning and development for teens with ADHD.
  • How does the camp handle problems? – Sometimes, campers get homesick and become a bit problematic to handle. Does the camp have a counselor on call, living on camp grounds? What other methods do they use to handle problematic teens with ADHD?
  • Is the camp and staff accredited? – Check whether the camp has accreditation from the American Camp Association. Accredited camps follow certain guidelines and requirements set by the association. Are the staff really qualified to handle campers with ADHD? It would also be useful to get details such as how many campers return to the camp per year and how many don’t. This will give you an idea of whether other parents and children have a positive experience with the camp.
  • What kind of children are accepted in the camp? – You will be the best judge of whether your child will be able to mix well with the kind of teens the camp accepts. Ask whether the camp accepts teens with ADHD or teens with a troubled past and not necessarily because of ADHD.

Signing your teen up for specialized wilderness camp may just be the kind of activity that would greatly benefit him/her over summer.