Another challenge for all involved when overseeing the care of a child with an ADD/ADHD diagnosis is to consistently find ways to speak positively about the camper. This is sometimes difficult for new counselors to do when the child is being disruptive and not obeying the rules of camp.

Counselors must be oriented to positive strategy techniques and should be trained not to complain about the things that the campers have done or not done… this is especially important when they are around other campers.

They must be especially sure to praise the child and give positive feed back as this boosts morale and self-esteem. Remember, they do not mean to be disruptive; many times, they cannot help it.

Encourage the child to alert their counselor when something is bothering them so that you can try to correct a concern before it becomes a problem. Set standards and add structure and routine to every day activities.

Some ideas for structure and routine include: Making lists that include times and events and posting the list near the child’s living area in the bunk; color-coding sports equipment, toiletries, etc. for easy recognition (this will avoid what I call dilly-dallying and assist to maintain focus); and list and post morning and night rituals.

It is very important to be firm and consistent, but with empathy set clear-cut rules and consequences, and do not give a series of directions. Break the directions up into short parts and give them one at a time. Insist that the child complete a task and do not let the child avoid a task by continuous actions such as talking, acting, etc. These are the child’s subtle ways of manipulating the environment.

Do not ask these children, “Would you like to,” instead say, “We are going to… now.” Sit or stand next to the child when it is necessary to keep him/her in control, and when speaking with them always be sure that you are looking into their eyes, otherwise, they may not be listening to you.

Always reward them with kind words of praise for their appropriate behavior. These children need much encouragement and affection. They are easily discouraged because of their repeated unsuccessful attempts. Their counselors and sports specialists must give those responsibilities and tasks that are attainable so they can experience success.

Camps provide a caring, nurturing environment for all children and although there are many specialty camps for children with an array of physical and behavioral disorders, many children with ADD/ADHD can be mainstreamed into a residential summer camp.

Lines of communication must remain open between the camp’s director, administrative staff, counselors, medical staff and parents for true success. These children learn self-control from their therapists and parents; at camp, they are provided the environment to learn self-confidence. They will ultimately live life with that confidence that comes from an inherent knowledge that they can achieve anything they set out to do!

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”

–Mark Twain

Elizabeth A. Levine is a pediatric case management coordinator at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, and a nursing doctoral student at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. Elizabeth has been a camp nurse every summer in North Carolina for the past four years and in Massachusetts the summer of 2000. She has been a nurse for 16 years.

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  5. Incremental Improvement, Part 2

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