A chance for kids with ADHD and LDs to experience sameness!

This sign is posted by the road as you drive into Camp SOAR. Brought a tear to my eyes.

Have you ever wished that your special needs child could live in an environment full of people who totally understands their differences? An environment where the other kids all had challenging differences too? I think we all have — all parents of kids with ADHD and/or learning disabilities see how much our children struggle with being misunderstood and treated as an outcast. Of course we want to take that away.

I didn’t think such a place existed. I send my son, Luke, who has ADHD, SPD, Dysgraphia with Written Expression Disorder and a Gifted Intelligence, to school and he feels like a failure due to his neurological differences. I send him to track club and overhear fellow parents discussing the obvious differences in focus and body control between their child and my own. It feels like we can’t escape his differences.

Being reminded of his struggles each and every day, there are many places I won’t try to send him because it feels like feeding him to the wolves, and he doesn’t need more of that. Places like Little League, Boy Scouts or summer camp. But what I discovered this past weekend is that it’s not necessarily about the activity not meshing with my child’s differences, it’s about finding the right environment for our special children to participate in these types of activities successfully. That is the key!

It certainly feels like these “special” places that accommodate our “special” kids are few and far between. I knew there were summer camps for kids with developmental and behavioral disorders but they never felt financially attainable for our family and, despite that, I still felt Luke would struggle there, even in a catering environment.

Then SOAR, a summer camp and semester program for kids with ADHD and Learning Disabilities, reached out to me. They had discovered {a mom’s view of ADHD} and felt we have a similar mission and wanted to discuss ways we might team up to help these great kids. Within that discussion, they invited our family to attend their annual Family Weekend at the North Carolina base of Camp SOAR. I was ecstatic to receive the invitation. Luke’s counselor had been recommending we attend their family weekend for two years now and we hadn’t been able to. Whitewater Rafting is miles and miles outside my comfort zone, but I sucked it up and did it for my kids, to show them we can’t let our fears limit our experiences.

After just a couple hours at SOAR on Friday night, Daddy and I exchanged a smile in the middle of the parent workshop. We left for our hotel that night (kids stay onsite without parents to experience that element of Camp) and discussed how happy we were to be a part of this program. Let me just point out how huge that is — it is not Daddy’s idea of fun to sit through many hours of parent workshops. In fact, on our drive over to the camp earlier that day, he saw all the parent workshops on the schedule and made no bones about how disappointed he was that I had signed him up for that.

But we were learning so much from Big John, the Director of SOAR who has ADHD himself and two young kids with ADHD — we both couldn’t have been happier about stepping out of our comfort zones (he with parenting workshops and I with outdoor adventure and leaving my kids overnight). I have read A LOT about ADHD and learning disabilities over the last four years and I still learned so much from Big John and the doctor that helped him lead the workshop, not to mention the other nine families that participated. So. very. much.

And yet, that is not what I find most exciting about our experience at Camp SOAR. What I find most exciting is the staff’s knowledge, empathy and patience when it comes to these kids. These are some truly amazing people — angels really in my book. They treat these kids with respect. They understand that sometimes unwanted behaviors are out of their control. And they teach skills. That’s right, they work on creating habits and improving life skills while at Camp — skills as minute as the manner in which you brush your teeth and a system to be sure you are remembering to change your underwear daily. At SOAR, every child is seen for who they are and accepted for that, whatever it may look like. They push boundaries through adventure to show their campers that they are strong and resilient. They help them discover they have value. Time at this camp gives kids some time at peace with themselves and the chance to feel some sameness for a change.

Luke had the best time at SOAR (and so did Emma). He had never slept anywhere without us except a few times with grandma and wakes a few times a week and comes to me during the night, yet he had no problem staying at camp. Even if he had, we wouldn’t have gotten a 2 am phone call, because his counselor knows how to handle it. After 48 hours at SOAR, he had two new friends, kids so similar to him, and he was talking about coming back in the summer for the Llama Trekking program. By attending the short parent weekend, he realized he would be ok and even have fun away from us at camp. That in and of itself is so valuable.


Yeah, I know, this is a RAVE review. I expected a lot and yet it turned out to be so much more than I expected. I am raving about Big John’s empathy and understanding of these kids and his knowledge of specialized parenting strategies. I’m raving about Joe, his commitment to keeping us safe as our whitewater rafting guide and his determination at every meal to make sure Luke didn’t feel any different than everyone else despite having to eat gluten free. I am raving about Eric and Maggie, the counselors that spent the weekend with Luke and Emma, about their patience, their understanding, and their amazing sense of adventure. I’m raving about the fact that my daughter, Luke’s big sister Emma, got to participate equally in something that is usually all about her brother and about the friendships she made with three other female siblings who get her frustrations and fears.

I am just so THANKFUL for these people and their commitment to better the lives of children like ours. So. very. thankful!

Check out the summer schedule for Camp SOAR – they have programs in NC, WY, CA, and FL and even take international trips with these kids. I promise, this experience is worth the cost and then some for your child.

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.
A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

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Related posts:

adhd and social problems, adhd and stress, adhd and summer camp, adhd behavior problems, adhd sensory integration, anxiety, behavior modification, community, emotional, hope, learning disabilities, learning styles and Adhd, parenting/FAMILY, routines, summer camp ·

About the author

COVER3D_400sq_bestsellAward-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

8 Comments

  1. Barbaracolwell says:

    My ADHD son actually does both karate and baseball and I must say that we have been beyond blessed to have coaches and mentors and some teachers who treat him with like and patience while letting him shine!! Luv this post

    Reply
  2. Seckert08 says:

    Sounds wonderful! I only wish I could afford it. My ADHD daughter would benefit greatly. Too bad it has to be so expensive.

    Reply
    • adhdmomma says:

      I felt like it was insanely expensive too. However, after experiencing it, and seeing the level of training the staff has on special needs and seeing that they teach our kids lagging skills, I realize it is worth every penny. The trick for folks like us is to figure out how to pay for it. They do have some scholarships but they are limited. If this is something you think your child would enjoy and benefit from, I highly recommend you inquire about scholarship. 

      Reply
  3. Jenny says:

    I wish I could find something like this in Indiana. Sounds wonderful!

    Reply
  4. Abby says:

    Love it!!

    To the point, articulate, and interesting.

    ADHD
    can be treated!!

    Thanks.
     

    Reply
  5. Pamela says:

    I wish I’d have known of SOAR when Clark was the right age to want to participate. Very cool. Sounds like it deserved a RAVE 🙂

    Reply

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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