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Camp STAR

Grades 1–7
Highland Park, IL

Camp STAR is a fun summer day camp experience for children with ADHD that integrates treatment and skill-building into everyday activities! Swimming, art, sports, field trips, and more – there’s no traditional “therapy time” at Camp STAR.Instead, each daily activity is structured to help campers increase positive behaviors, improve social skills, and develop emotion regulation and problem-solving strategies.

“This camp is a sanctuary for children who have had difficulty in school, traditional camps, difficulty making friends or maintaining friendships.”

-Susanne Beal, Camp STAR parent

Our Program

Camp STAR is operated by Jewish Council for Youth Services in collaboration with University of Illinois at Chicago.

We adhere to the evidence-based Summer Treatment Program (STP) model developed by William E. Pelham, Jr., PhD, a leading psychologist in the field of ADHD research. We deliver treatment tailored to children’s individual behavioral and learning needs.

Accolades for the STP model:

  • Named as a Model Program for Child and Family Mental Health by the Division of Child, Youth, and Family Services of the American Psychological Association.
  • Awarded Program of the Year by CHADD, a national parent advocacy group for children with ADHD.
  • Listed in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

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

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Each day at Camp STAR, your child will:

Learn New Skills!

Social skills, problem-solving, and emotional regulation strategies – each day begins and ends with a 15-minute group discussion led by a counselor, with multiple mini-discussions (five – seven minutes) held throughout the day. Children discuss how these skills can be used at home, school, or an upcoming activity that day at camp. We also review our participation and skill use in recent activities – what went well, what didn’t, and how we can plan and improve for next time. Outside of discussion times, Camp STAR staff give feedback and coach kids’ skill use during each activity, using positive reinforcement to help kids feel supported and safe while working on these new skills.

Be Creative!

Kids get inspired in the Camp STAR Art Studio while working on a mix of individual and group projects. Individual art projects allow campers to express their creativity, while working on behaviors like staying on task and following through with teacher instructions. Group projects are designed to help campers practice working cooperatively with peers. Kids then show off their work during the art show held on parent visitation day!

Have Fun!

All children become part of the team at Camp STAR, regardless of skill level or prior experience! Our daily recreational activities focus on fun and provide a great opportunity for campers to work on paying attention and following directions.

Each day we have a practice period and then a game period in the ‘sport of the day’. Skills practice improves campers’ abilities to make them more confident and engaged during recreational activities. Game-play provides a natural setting to put social skills into practice, and work on good sportsmanship!

We also go swimming daily at The Lil’. Campers receive swim lessons using the Red Cross curriculum, and then have free swim.

Experience Success!

Parents are surprised when kids actually like going to our Academic Learning Center (ALC)! The daily ALC period is designed to improve behaviors necessary for academic success — following through with instructions, completing tasks (independently, accurately and in a timely manner!), and cooperating with peers. Campers complete individual seatwork assignments, and then participate in a peer tutoring program for reading.

Camp STAR teachers and educational counselors work hard to create a positive, supportive classroom where children can meet their goals and feel successful. Our goal at Camp STAR is to help children build self-efficacy in the academic environment that they can carry over into the new school year.

And then have more Fun!

Campers can earn two daily recesses (lunchtime and end-of-day) by meeting their individualized program goals. During recess, campers have supervised free play with the other kids in their group.

Fun Fridays!

At the end of each week is Fun Friday! All campers participate in the Friday hot dog cookout for lunch. Campers that have been making progress and meeting their goals during the week can also earn special activities on Fridays – sometimes these are themed on-site events (Superheroes! Pirates!) and other times we take field trips to places like Pump It UP! and the Wildlife Discovery Center.

Partnering with Parents

At Camp STAR, we believe that building a partnership between parents and the program is key to success for the summer and beyond.

The weekly parent group meeting is mandatory for families enrolled in the program. During these meetings, we discuss techniques to strengthen the parent-child relationship, improve home compliance and behavior, and work with schools effectively to set your child up for academic success. Our goal is to help parents learn strategies to maintain gains made during Camp STAR and to continue to make progress into the new school year. These meetings are held on-site one evening per week with free childcare available to make attendance easier for families. A city-based group is usually offered as well for families that live in Chicago.

Additionally, brief, individual feedback is given to parents daily at on-site dismissal. The lead counselor will help your child review their day with you during this time. For parents that can’t be on-site for dismissal, we set office hours during the week so that you can schedule a phone call to review your child’s progress at camp.

A Typical Daily Schedule

8:45 Arrivals
9:00 Morning Discussion
9:30 Recreational Period (sports skills practice)
10:30 Academic Learning Center
11:45 Art Studio
12:30 Lunch
12:45 AM Recess
1:15 Swimming at The Lil’
3:00 Recreational Period (sports game)
4:00 End of Day Discussion
4:15 PM Recess
4:30 Departures

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