Camp STAR, For Children With ADHD, Kicks Off This Week

Lisa Fielding
June 17, 2019 - 12:40 pm
Summer Camp For Children With ADHD Kicks Off This Week

Photo provided by Jewish Council for Youth Services

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Camp STAR made its debut in the Chicago area in 2007.

"The kids that come to Camp Star are kids that have a primary diagnosis of ADHD, some of them have an additional diagnosis as well. Some have difficulties like anxiety, depression, some issues with following direction and defiance," said Kristine Kent, Clinical Director, Camp STAR.

This week begins at seven week program in Highland Park.

"The kids that come to our program are usually in a regular education classroom, they typically attend a regular day camp, but struggle in both settings and they aren't as successful as they could be," she said. 

Camp STAR (Summer Treatment Program for ADHD and Related Disorders) brings together children who need that extra attention and care they might not get in a regular camp or classroom.

"It's a highly structured program. We have a point system where children are earning and losing points every day," Kent said.

Camp STAR
Photo provided by Jewish Council for Youth Services

Kent said the program offers regular activities like swimming, arts and sports, but it also helps campers practice positive behavior, social skills, peer relationships and problem solving.

"For the kids that come to our camp, they're really used to somebody saying 'hey there's a problem and now you're in trouble.' It's different for us. We want to make problem solving a good thing. Problem solving is very natural and neutral here. We talk about problems in a way that says how can we do better next time, how can we fix this, no one's in trouble, we just want to help things get better for next time," Kent said.

Kent said the camp is designed for children first through seventh grade.

Summer Camp For Children With ADHD Kicks Off This Week
Photo provided by Jewish Council for Youth Services

"We work on behavior strategies for academic success. ADHD kids may struggle with things like being able to complete their work accurately in a timely manner, staying on task, raising their hand to ask for help, following directions from teachers," she said. "We still do camp activities, but we identify areas of strengths and struggles."

This year, 27 children are in Camp STAR. It is held in Highland Park and is operated by Jewish Council for Youth Services and affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Camp STAR is the only program in Illinois that uses this model to support children with ADHD and their parents.

"Parents tell us how happy their kids are after this program. What families can see is that their kids can flourish in this type of setting and their kids are successful. We're building up their self-esteem and aren't feeling defeated on a daily basis," Kent said.