Special Needs Camp:
ADHD, Autism, Behavioral Issues, Other Special Needs
Day and Overnight Camp
12 Camp Monomonac Rd.
Rindge, New Hampshire 03461
636 Great Rd
Stow, Massachusetts 01775
We're proud to be unique among camps. Our positive approach, engaging philosophy and overall experience is different. Camp Starfish works under the premise that providing individualized attention to children in need will help them to learn new skills, improve their self-esteem, and enjoy emotional growth. Camp Starfish is a place where each child is celebrated for being the person they are, while at the same time, given space and support to grow their skills.
At camp, we focus on teaching children how to interact appropriately in a social group, play cooperatively on a team, and resolve conflicts verbally and peacefully. Campers also work on individual goals, all while being active outdoors, exploring their talents and interests and having fun. Starfish is a different kind of summer camp. We're proud to receive frequent feedback that campers are returning home having made great strides.
Starfish offers both overnight and day camp programs at our Rindge, NH site (approximately 1.5 hours from Boston). Our overnight program has a 1:1 staff-to-camper ratio, and is for campers ages 7-16. Our day camp has a 1:2 ratio, and enrolls campers ages 5-10.
We encourage you to go to our website (www.campstarfish.org) to learn more about our programs and feel free to give us a call or send an email to one of our directors about your child's needs and what you are looking for in a summer experience.
Camp Starfish is located on 40 acres on Lake Monomonac in Rindge, NH. On the boys side of camp, cabins accomodate 4-5 boys and their counselors and on the girls' side of camp cabins hold 5-6 girls and their counselors. Cabins have bunkbeds, electricity and screened windows and doors and cubbies for each camper's belongings. Each village has a washouse with bathrooms and individual showers. During camp all campers and staff eat in our dining hall, three hot meals each day.
All Camp Starfish summer staff go through an a hiring process which includes interviews, reference checks, background check and sexual offender background check. Our staff arrive at camp two weeks before the start of the camp season and participate in an extensive staff training program. We do additional in-service training with all staff throughout the summer.
Our leadership staff team is comprised of 12-14 Administrators who recieve an additional 10 days of training and have been on our staff team for at least 2 summers.
What is the philosophy of Camp Starfish?
Camp Starfish fosters the success and growth of children with emotional, learning and behavioral problems by providing individualized attention as part of structured, nurturing, and fun group programs The Starfish philosophy, which provides 1:1 support for campers, is based on engaging campers in a variety of well-structured traditional summer camp activities in a safe and predictable environment. According to consistent survey responses, many children who attend Starfish enjoy an improved self-esteem that translates into a positive attitude towards learning in school, as well as an increased confidence in engaging with peers and trying new things. Every activity at Starfish is specifically geared to meet the needs and abilities of each bunk, activity group, and child. Activities are well-structured and guided by a thoughtfully designed curriculum. Staff consistently seek innumerable ways to provide campers with positive reinforcement while helping them to recognize and articulate their strengths
What do you mean by "therapeutic environment"?
Camp Starfish differs from many programs that serve children with behavioral and emotional challenges in that we do not provide "traditional" therapy sessions over the course of a camp stay. Rather, through use of our Tools, or core camp values and coping skills, along with fun yet extremely structured program, we create an environment which is therapeutic by its very nature. Positive reinforcement programs, goal setting, conflict resolution, talking through choices made, and building social pragmatics and coping skills are only some aspects of the daily program. So, although your camper will not go from breakfast to soccer to "Group", therapeutically they will be very well nurtured. This intentional programming allows children who meet with professionals on a regular basis in their day-to-day lives to have a break, while still learning and being held accountable for their choices and actions.
What is the difference between Starfish's 1:1 ratio and one-on-one?
At any given time, we have approximately 40 campers on site and almost 65 staff members, ranging from activity group counselors to leadership staff to camper services staff to our Camp Directors. Our ratio is one-to-one (most camps are between 1:4 and 1:8), which means in a cabin group, there are four campers and four counselors. Or, at soccer, there are six campers and six staff. However, we do not pair one camper with one staff member for the duration of the camp - which is "one-on-one" and feels much more like having an "aide". So, your camper won't arrive at camp and be introduced to a staff member they're expected to spend the next 14 days with, 24/7. Instead, your camper has his/her bunk staff who are always there, and also sees activity instructors and administrators throughout the day. Supervision is always 1:1 - one of few camps in the country where this is the case - but 1:1 instead of 1-on-1 allows campers to meet and skill-build with all the staff, and vice-versa.
What are some of the diagnoses that campers have?
Camp Starfish believes strongly in working with behaviors and emotions as they are presented, rather than focusing on childrens' diagnoses. Staff and visitors alike will find that a camper’s diagnosis is only shared with cabin staff when absolutely necessary or at the request of the parent/guardian. However, nor do we ignore the fact that each diagnosis has specific patterns of behavior and therefore strategies for best helping campers to be successful. Staff are fully trained in specific behavior management techniques across a wide variety of therapeutic ranges. Some of the more common diagnoses our campers are living with include ADHD/ADD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, auditory processing disorder, learning disabilities, intermittent/explosive disorder, sensory processing disorder, and conduct disorder/oppositional defiance. Each summer we have some campers on the autism spectrum, though this is not the primary population that we serve. Generally, we are best able to help those campers on the autism spectrum who are able to communicate verbally. Our campers tend to be in either special education, therapeutic day schools, assisted classrooms, or have IEPs (individual education plans) to ensure their success in school. Often they receive additional services at school like Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language, or individualized behavior solutions (like time in a quiet room to calm down or regroup). If your child is doing fine in a "regular" mainstream classroom with one teacher and lots of students, they may find Camp Starfish to be a bit too structured. We encourage you to get in touch with us if you're not sure whether Starfish is the "right" place for your child.
Do you work with any special needs child regardless of diagnosis?
Camp Starfish has a fairly rigorous application process, and admits campers on a case-by-case basis. Our application form is very detailed, which enables us to really get to know individual campers (at least, on paper!) and learn about their individual needs, goals, interests and abilities. There are so many other factors that contribute to a camper’s success at Camp Starfish that it simply isn’t possible to name which children with which diagnoses we will always admit and which we will not. In general, to be considered for a place in camp, children should be self-sufficient with using the bathroom and shower (staff verbally prompt, assist and provide reminders - i.e., time to shampoo, time to rinse off, etc. - but can not physically help children with these basic daily living skills). Our minimum age (chronologically and developmentally) is seven. Children should have a basic sense (although we realize it may not be well-developed yet) that they are joining a camp community and that there will be expectations placed on them to interact with others appropriately. Displays of behavior are expected - however, the underlying knowledge that their actions affect others is essential to successfully learning and skill-building at camp. If you have a question about your camper’s specific diagnoses and if they would be an appropriate fit for camp, please call us or contact us by email to set up a time to talk.
How do behavioral or disciplinary problems get handled?
Because of the type of camp we are, it is our assumption that each child, at some point during the session, or possibly many times over the course of the session, will require behavioral interventions of some kind. Incidents are managed calmly, safely and with a minimum of fuss. Most important is that campers are able to take space, calm down, talk things out, and make any amends necessary. This is how campers learn to handle situations that occur outside of camp! We talk through conflict, disappointments, anger, and other common emotions regularly. Because of our unique 1:1 ratio, a camper and staff member can sit a ways from the rest of the group and still be supervised while they talk things through, without embarassing the camper or "calling him/her out" in front of peers. We have a positive reinforcement basis to our behavioral management, and staff are extensively trained through role play, instruction, and educational materials on how to handle various issues that may arise. At no time do we use corporal punishment, physical intimidation, yelling or anything similar. We do have a consequences system, which means we recognize that children learn the social and life skill of making amends (i.e. I knocked over a bench - how can I give back to camp? I can straighten the benches). Consequences are educational (intended to teach), not punitive, and allow campers to take a short break from their activities and regroup. For extremely serious incidents, which are rare, you will be notified by a call home from one of our Directors. Some campers may also use contracting, the "safe space" (a sensory/quiet room), and other similar therapeutic solutions depending on need. Our administrators are certified to do therapeutic holds as a last resort if children need help staying safe. Please don't hesitate to ask us questions about behavior management or discipline policies and procedures
What kind of training does the staff have?
Because our goal is to have staff on camp that are well-trained and confident in their abilities to create a wonderful experience for campers, all of our staff attend an intensive pre-camp training program. We cover an amazing amount of information during this time, including camp policies and procedures, child abuse awareness/training, basic safety, first aid and health care, waterfront training, teambuilding workshops, risk management, behavior management including extensive work with the Starfish Tools and Strategies, child and group development, outdoors orientation (campfires, etc.), how to effectively lead a group and activities, diversity, conflict resolution, bullying, practicing how to structure camper activities and learning the daily routines and camp traditions. Many potential camp scenarios are role-played during training. Role plays include resolving camper conflicts, calming agitated and angry children, and reassuring anxious and frustrated children. By role playing, working in small groups with leadership staff, and through multiple other learning formats, we ensure our staff will be more than ready when the campers arrive. Our talented and experienced leadership staff ("administrators") have a collective 45 years of Starfish experience, and along with our Directors and guest instructors, lead new staff in training.
Camp Season: June 18, 2017 to August 18, 2017
Financial assistance available
- SessionDates# CampersTuition
- Session 1 - 14 Days6/18/2017 to 7/1/201748 Campers$3,950.00
- Session LITE7/3/2017 to 7/7/201720 Campers$1,425.00
- Session 2 - 14 Days7/9/2017 to 7/22/201748 Campers$3,950.00
- Session 3 - 19 Days7/25/2017 to 8/12/201748 Campers$5,125.00