Camp STAR, a summer treatment program for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other behavioral, emotional and social difficulties, begins its seventh season in June.
The seven-week camp, whose name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues, is a partnership of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Jewish Council for Youth Services. It is the only program of its kind in Illinois.
The clinical director of Camp STAR, Dr. Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, is an internationally-recognized expert in ADHD who worked with the developer of the award-winning summer treatment program.
“Children with ADHD are so used to getting negative feedback from parents, teachers and peers. Camp STAR stresses positive feedback to change behavior,” said Chronis-Tuscano, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at UIC.
Camp Star provides traditional summer camp activities with individualized treatment
The comprehensive, evidence-based program provides a camp environment with a focus on social rewards and positive reinforcement through sports and recreation. It has been shown to improve the behavior and social functioning of children with ADHD, said Chronis-Tuscano, who also directs the ADHD program at the University of Maryland.
Children with ADHD and associated problems often struggle to fit in at typical camps, she said. Camp STAR provides intensive treatment using behavior modification, modeling, and social skills training along with sports skills training.
“It’s so rewarding to see many of the children, by the end of the summer, have had a successful experience. They feel better about themselves, they have developed friendships, and their families have acquired new skills to cope with their children’s behaviors.”
Every child receives an individualized treatment plan to teach and reward social skills, improve attention and anger management, control impulsive behaviors and enhance self-esteem. A one to two staff-to-camper ratio ensures that each child receives individual attention. Advanced graduate and undergraduate students in psychology, education, or health-related fields staff Camp STAR.
Camp STAR is based on the behavioral therapy principles used in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD, which showed that children who participated in a summer treatment program obtained a high level of success with lower doses of medication than children who did not receive behavioral treatment.
Campers express their creativity through arts and crafts, and work on classroom behavior in the Academic Learning Center. Weekly parent training sessions cover techniques to improve child behavior at home. Other activities include weekly field trips, Friday cookouts, swimming, and a graduation ceremony.
Children ages 6-12 with ADHD and related disorders are eligible. Camp STAR begins June 16 and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday through Aug. 1 in Highland Park, Illinois.