My ADHD Childhood: On Camp and Gym Class...

Growing up, I was more eager than other kids. In close friendships, this presented itself in the sentence I repeated daily to my mother “I want to play with Joanna” …or Harry …or Brian (my three best friends at the time). It presented itself as independent activities: completing fifteen puzzles in an afternoon, writing picture books about Joanna and me, or setting up animal figurines in an extensive game of make believe. It also emerged during car trips when I would hound my mother (ten rounds later) for another game of “I’m Thinking Of,” a yes-or-no puzzle game that began with the question, “Is it a person, place, thing, animal, or mineral?” Reflecting back on these times, I see the origins of who I am today, someone who values a wide social group, who creates stories, who is fiercely curious.

I began to feel overeager during those dreaded teen years. At the time, feigning (or legitimate? I still can’t tell…) disinterest was considered cool. And I? Well, I was at a loss.

I never understood why girls bonded through complaining about gym class. In the locker room they shared how to avoid softball or floor hockey by claiming “I have cramps.” This, of course, never worked because Coach Fairbanks knew that exercise is actually good for cramps. But enough period talk…

My summers as a hippie.
I loved Phys Ed. I loved interacting with my classmates in a different setting than the classroom and one that I excelled in. My summer version of gym was camp. At Camp Chateaugay, I also never understood why girls enrolled in something that lasted for two months in order to not participate in it. They’d lounge in the Adirondack chairs alongside lake Chateaugay or once again, claim they had their periods to get out of white water rafting… (sorry, just one more reference there)

Don’t get my wrong here, I’m not referencing all my female classmates or fellow campers, just the ones who viewed *activity* with detached indifference.

Camp was good for me. In fact, it was great.  Some day, when I have little ADHD'rs running around, I'll send them off to camp to experience what I did those years ago. But for now, I say we enroll in "adult camp" and do it all over again. For someone with ADHD, who craves constant activity, be it social, creative, or logical, Camp Chateaugay’s morning til night activities offered me respite from the craving to satiate my energy. Come “flashlight time” I was always ready to unwind, tuck into reading, and finally, sleep.

In my adult life, I found a way to manage what once felt like the burden of eagerness. I found my passion. And you’re supporting it right now, by reading this blog. Writing offers a solitary activity that nurtures curiosity and satisfies my excess attention because it requires constant thinking, about life and its many struggles. Over the years, I’ve outgrown hounding my mother to call my best friends. Instead, I pick up the phone and share with her what I’ve written that day.

What activity occupies your full attention? Have you found one yet? If not, do you feel burdened with overeagerness?

**Special shout out to Camp Chateaugay alums! Reunion soon?**