Camp Takoda
Salt Lake City, Utah
Taking applications now for 2014!
Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM
June 16 - August 8
(no camp on 7/4, 7/5, 7/24, /7/25)
"The first two years were so good for our son, he's back in for the third time this year and as thrilled and happy as can be! His self-esteem always seems to shoot way up when he's in Camp Takoda! Thank you for making this camp/treatment-program such a success!"

      -- from a returning parent

Camp Takoda (Sioux for "friends of all") implements Dr. William Pelham's highly acclaimed, evidence-based Summer Treatment Program (STP) for children struggling with ADHD or related disorders, Camp Takoda, besides being a lot of fun, offers an intensive therapy program unlike any other in the state.

Camp Takoda is sponsored by . . .
  • The Utah Alliance for Children: a non profit organization who's mission is to provide programs to support children with disabilities in the community;
  • The University of Utah College of Social Work. To read their recent newsletter that covered the last year's camp Click here);
  • The University of Buffalo, the developers of the program, who have provided staff training, implementation guidelines, oversight, and general support.

Contact Information

To learn more, or sign up for the summer of 2011 call Susan McDonald at 801-467-8553 or 801-209-3203

Downloads: PDF Documents for printing from 2013:

      Camp Takoda Flyer: March 2013

It is a camp because it's long days of fun and kids love it. But it's much more than this . . .

It's an evidence-based treatment program - it treats many of the symptoms of ADHD and other related disorders such as Asperger's Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder, and high functioning Autism. "The program is incredibly detailed and laid out in a 400-page manual." Explains the camp Director, David Groot. "The daily practices are grounded in traditional behavior modification theory and research. This benefits kids because they receive evidence-based treatment, and it is great for counselors because they get to learn and implement a proven research-based program."

A typical camp day last year started at 8:30 am with a morning discussion group. During this group, awards were given out for "high point kid," "best sport," and "best social skills." The daily schedule included 90 minutes of academics, art, and several recreation periods. Every 15-minute period of the day was an "interval," during which kids earned points for participating and following rules. During soccer and other games, kids cheered "fire up" each time a new interval started; they knew they could start over with a fresh chance to earn points. Extra points were earned for helping peers, contributing to a group discussion, complying with commands, and ignoring negative behaviors. Points were lost for behaviors such as noncompliance, teasing, interrupting, complaining, and aggression. The counselors carried a detailed point sheet and were trained to notice most every behavior and give praise and points for positives and consequent negatives.

What your child gets during the 8 week camp:
  • Eight hours per day for 38 days (304 hours) of intensive treatment/therapy using evidence-based methods developed over the course of more than 20 years of experience by one of the top researchers in Behavior Treatment.
  • Eights hours per day of social skills coaching
  • Two hours per day of academics (math, science, art, music)
  • Training and coaching in selected sports: soccer, basketball, kickball and others
  • Swimming four days a week
  • Field trips one day a week
  • Medication management support from licensed practitioners
  • A full day of activities that keep up with your child, are fun and engaging
  • Small groups of 12 or less
  • A low student to counselor ratio of 3:1
  • A huge amount of immediate positive feedback that grows self-esteem and leads toward the elimination of negative behaviors
  • Weekly evening educational meetings for parents (while children are entertained in another room)
Compare this with monthly or weekly visits to a therapist that may well cost over $100 for 45 minutes!


What a parent had to say about last year's camp:

"Camp Takoda was transformational for our son," said Andrew's father. "He began with very low self-esteem and ended the seven-week period the happiest we have ever known him: full of self-confidence and calm. He learned how to play sports for the first time in his life and had a tremendous amount of fun. It was, with little question, the most fulfilling and enduring experience of his life."

What a counselor had to say about last year's camp:

Tifani Holloway, a senior bachelor's student, worked as a counselor and collected and analyzed daily behavioral data. "It was incredibly intense," said Ms. Holloway of the camp, "but the growth I saw in the kids made it truly worth the work and sacrifice."

To learn more, call Susan McDonald at 801-467-8553 or 801-859-2302 Visit this page often for updates and new information as they become available.

The STP program, as it has been established in Utah, mimics closely the program presently operated by Dr. Pelham out of the University of Buffalo in New York. Below, read about the Pelham STP program as it is implemented under Dr. Pelham's guidance in Buffalo, New York. This information is reproduced here with permission.

ADHD Summer Treatment Program Overview

The Summer Treatment Program, or STP, is the culmination of over 20 years of intensive behavior research on Children with ADHD and related issues. Founded and developed by William E. Pelham, Ph.D., a preeminent psychologist, teacher, and researcher at the University of Buffalo, New York, he continues to guide and oversee staff training for STPs around the country, as well as Japan.

If you are looking for something more than medication to help improve your child's behavior, the Summer Treatment Program with the Utah Alliance for Children in Salt Lake City, Utah, is worth considering. It is an award-winning comprehensive treatment program for children's behavioral, emotional, and learning problems.

The Summer Treatment Program (STP) has a proven track record of effective treatment for more than 2,500 children and families. Based on its excellence in providing treatment for children with ADHD, the STP has been featured on national television news and in national magazines. The STP has also been used in clinical trials conducted under the auspices of the National Institute of Mental Health, has been named a Model Program in Child and Family Mental Health by the American Psychological Association and SAMHSA, and has been named a program of the year by CHADD, the national parent advocacy group for children with ADHD. The STP has also recently been listed in SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.

William Pelham, PhD

William E. Pelham, Jr., Ph. D.
Founder and Developer of the STP, he directs the Center for Children and Families in Buffalo, New York

In its full implementation, the STP offers a comprehensive treatment program for behavioral, emotional, and learning problems of children entering grades 1-6 as well as adolescents entering grades 7-11. This year's implementation in Salt Lake City was limited to a smaller group of children, ages 9 -13. Future years will seek to expand and broaden the offerings.

The STP comprises of a set of evidence-based treatments incorporated into a seven- or eight-week therapeutic summer day camp setting. Group and tailored individual treatment plans are implemented by trained paraprofessionals under the supervision of experienced senior staff members.

Group sessions consist of 12- to 15 children paired with 4 clinical staff members for the duration of the day, encouraging development of group interaction and friendships.

Group activities include two hours in behavioral modification sessions conducted by developmental specialists. Sessions focus on treatment of problem behaviors in a classroom context, and may include individualized and computer-assisted instruction, as well. The remainder of each day consists of recreational-based, age-appropriate games and group activities, with implementation of a variety of integrated treatment components.

Principal Goals

  • Development of the child's problem solving and social skills, and of the social awareness necessary to enable him/her to get along better with other children
  • Improvement of the child's learning skills and academic performance
  • Development of the child's abilities to follow instructions, to complete tasks that he/she commonly fails to finish, and to comply with adults' requests
  • Improvement of the child's self-esteem by developing competencies in areas necessary for daily life, such as interpersonal, recreational, academic, and other task-related areas
  • Instruction of parents in how to develop, reinforce, and maintain these positive changes
  • If appropriate, evaluation of the effects of medication on the child's academic and social functioning in a natural setting


Treatments includes individually adapted reward and response-cost programs; training in group problem solving, social , and contracting skills; instruction in overcoming learning deficits; strategies for improving concentration, task completion, and self concept; time out, and a daily feedback system. Treatment plans and strategies are continuously monitored and modified as necessary.

Treatment Summary

A final report, which includes detailed information regarding the effects of these interventions and recommendations for future treatment, is sent to parents and referring professionals at the end of the program.

Although the STP is highly structured and emphasizes treatment, parents should be aware that most children enjoy the STP tremendously. In addition to being beneficial for them, the program is also fun.

Parent Training Groups

Parents form an integral part of STP by participating in weekly group evening sessions. Parent sessions are designed to help parents develop skills to reduce problem behaviors, to improve their child's task skills and relationships with parents and peers, and to maintain and extend the gains made in the STP to the child's natural at-home environment.

Medication Evaluation

If indicated, the efficacy of medication treatment for the child is evaluated. A comprehensive and carefully controlled evaluation is conducted covering all major areas of the child's functioning (i.e., social behavior, academic performance and productivity, and self concept) that could be affected by medication treatment. By evaluating medication effects in conjunctions with other treatments, the effectiveness of combining medication with those treatments is addressed. Following assessment of medication effects, the program provides the referring physician and parents with a report detailing the child's response to medication and makes specific recommendations regarding the possible usefulness of psychoactive medication for continued treatment.


Children ages 8 to 12 are eligible to participate in the Salt Lake City program. Enrollment is limited, and participants are selected based on an evaluation conducted by program staff. Psychological tests required for admission are performed by program staff, but recent testing from other sources may be acceptable in some cases. Children with ADHD, oppositional disorders, aggression, learning problems, or children with mixed behavior and learning problems are evaluated. Referrals can be made by school personnel, mental health professionals, physicians, or parents. Those children who meet certain criteria are offered admission.

STP Staff

The program is implemented by highly trained, undergraduate paraprofessional therapists, students pursing advanced degrees in psychology, and educational specialists. Supervision and oversight are carried out by highly experienced staff members who have been conducting treatment programs for ADHD children for over 20 years. The psychosocial and behavioral aspects of the program are supervised by doctoral level psychologists. While in the classroom, children are supervised by a teacher and a developmental aide.

Program Evaluation and Investigation

The STP uses only treatments that have been well documented and shown to be effective through research; however, program staff continue to evaluate treatment effectiveness. Data are gathered via several methods, including observational, psychometric, neuropsychological, and rating measures, evaluated to determine individual and group responses to treatments.

To help further the understanding of behavioral problems in children, information is gathered from children and their families enrolled in the program. Children may be asked to participate in a variety of programs, including performance measures of computerized tasks involving different aspects of learning, attention, and memory, or assessing how children interact with one another in competitive task situations. Similarly, parents may be asked to complete rating scales or to be observed in controlled settings that measure different aspects of family functioning. In order to maintain confidentiality and a complete understanding of these projects, parents are asked to sign consent forms that describe each project prior to their child's participation in the project.

STP Effectiveness

The acute response to the STP has been evaluated in a large group of ADHD children over a period of five years. Parent and staff ratings of effectiveness were uniformly positive. Over 95% of parents rated both their children and themselves to have benefited from the STP and said that they would send their child to the program again if given the opportunity 99% of parents said that they would recommend the program to other parents. 96% of parents said that their children not only improved but also liked the STP. These positive evaluations undoubtedly contribute to the very low dropout rate (only 3%) that the STP had over the 5 year period.

The STP has been replicated at many sites around North America, including both community and academic settings. All sites have reported the same positive clinical results and parent satisfaction that have characterized the results at our site. The STP has been a component of psychosocial treatment for children in clinical prevention trials funded by NIMH, NIDA, and SAMHSA-CSAP, with similar positive results.

What Parents and Professionals Say About the Summer Treatment Program

"The STP is the best treatment program in the world. You know the old saying, 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. I modeled my own program on the STP."

-- James Swanson, PhD, Director, Child Development Center and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, University of California, Irvine

"The STP is a remarkable program--all encompassing, thorough, and incredibly integrative--that targets those skills and problems most in need of remediation in youngsters with ADHD. Staff, families, and children themselves are quite taken with the strides that are made in the 8 week period--all in all an impressive behavioral program that I highly endorse."

-- Stephen P. Hinshaw, PhD, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

"The greatest thing about the Summer Treatment Program, and the greatest thing for us to see, is how happy and enthusiastic he is coming here. He looks forward to it, he is eager, he plays hard, he has fun, he learns, he succeeds, he feels better. We can see his growth and we see him feeling better about who he is."

-- Mother of an 8-year-old boy

"The Summer Treatment Program is a very positive experience for kids, but it is also a positive experience for the family because you come and get positive reinforcement from the counselors, from the supervisors, and the child is not beaten down every day by has peers. It just follows across all the line of your life, from family and home to being out socially."

-- Mother of a 10-year-old boy

"I feel like I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel for the very first time. It's a long tunnel but no longer a dark one."

-- Mother of a 7-year-old boy

"It was a real turning point--the best summer of our family's life!"

-- Father of an 8-year-old boy