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Cliques mirror society; what we know about ADD.

Cliques and Society

Researchers Adler and Adler studied cliques, which are circles of friends who see themselves as mutually connected. Cliques are hierarchical, dominated by peer leaders, and offer membership to a select few. Cliques include the most popular youth, receive great interest from outsiders, and offer members exciting social lives.

Cliques serve as the primary way for their members to learn about society. Youth cliques operate autonomously from adults and can represent a powerful form of peer culture. Clique leaders use the group to create and maintain their power status.

The researchers used data from seven-year longitudinal studies, interviews with fourth to sixth graders, and observations outside of school. The studies included 100 young people, 40 of whom were interviewed. Seven teachers also gave their perspectives on clique leaders.

Findings show that popularity influences who becomes a clique member, as well as what determines the group's hierarchy. Members carefully screen potential candidates and recruit new members. The research also shows that leaders acquire their power through their popularity and by making vital group decisions. Youth commonly position themselves close to the leader, while pushing aside other friends.

Findings also show that leaders ridicule and reject others to enhance their power, both within and outside the clique. Instilling fear in members helps maintain group solidarity and cohesion. Members consistently follow the leader and often comply with his or her wishes.

As social groups, cliques introduce young people to negative aspects of society, such as conflict and prejudice.

Implications for camp

All programs that work with young people face the issue of clique development. Because cliques exclude and use negative power, camp staff spend considerable time trying to eliminate or minimize them. Camp professionals intuitively recognize that cliques are not the ideal way to form friendships and teach social mores. Adler and Adler present findings that support these feelings.

Understanding youth's need to express power relationships and hierarchical structure through cliques can help camp staff create alternatives. Certainly, small friendship groups, autonomous of adults, that foster relationships built on the supportive and positive aspects of mutual power should be encouraged. Staff can teach developmental skills through sports, small group games, small group exercises, and other settings in which youth depend on each other for social and task support.

While campers may have difficulty understanding that cliques can foster a negative social structure, camp staff can guide them to positive friendship groups through education and by reinforcing constructive group development.


Adler, P. & Adler, P. (1995). Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion in Preadolescent Cliques, Social Psyche Quarterly, 58(3), 145-162.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) affects 3 to 5 percent of all school-aged youth. While ADD is found nine times more often in males, scientists do not know its cause. They believe it may result from biological and psychosocial factors, with heredity playing a part in its onset.

Core symptoms include two main domains: inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. To be diagnosed with ADD, onset must occur before age seven, with the two domains being prevalent for at least six months and appearing in a minimum of two settings (e.g., home and school). Symptoms must interfere with the child's ability to function. ADD affects cognitive functioning, peer relationships, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

Up to two-thirds of children diagnosed with ADD have one or more additional diagnosable psychiatric disorders. Young people with ADD also face language difficulties as well as communication, learning, anxiety, and mood disorders.

Early thinking held that children with ADD would eventually outgrow it. Recent investigation has shown that ADD can continue into adulthood. For some, impairing symptoms may lessen or disappear in early adult life; however, 40 percent of those with symptoms continue to have them into adulthood.

Family education, found in support groups and parent management trainings, plays a critical role in managing ADD. Youth with ADD respond well to structured, predictable, organized schedules that have clearly defined and reinforced rules. Incentives, tangible rewards, and time-outs help manage inappropriate behaviors.

Research shows that a primary issue for youth with ADD is impaired social skills. Caretakers should focus on self-esteem, anxiety, and related concerns, as well as on improving impulse and anger control. Youth with ADD should be taught to enter social groups, develop conversational skills, and solve problems. Successful summer treatment programs need to focus on academics, behavior management, social skills, and individual work.

Treatment includes some medications, most often stimulants. Drugs help young people with ADD manage interactions with coaches, family members, and teachers and improve play skills. Medications should be taken year-round, even though many parents give their children a break during the summer. The highest success rates occur when medications are administered throughout the day. Common side effects include reduced appetite, insomnia, stomach ache, headache, and irritability. Research shows no addictions to medications, nor any strong correlation to stunted growth.

Implications for camp

Camp personnel can better serve the families of campers with ADD through education and by providing a supportive atmosphere. We must also alert parents to the signs of ADD, so appropriate management and referral measures can be taken.

Youth with ADD have difficulty developing communication, social, and problem-solving skills. Camp staff require special training to work with these campers. They also need ongoing support throughout the season to learn how to limit unstructured opportunities, which pose potential problems with impulse control.

Successful management techniques should include a structured atmosphere that limits distractions and provides clear and consistent rules and boundaries. Campers with ADD do not need to be isolated from the general camp population.


Cantwell, D. (1996). Attention Deficit Disorder: A Review of the Past 10 Years. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(8), 978-987.

Deb Jordan, Re.D., is an associate professor of leisure services at the University of Northern Iowa. Send your letters and one-page summaries of research related to camp to: Research Notes, c/o Dr. Deb Jordan, Leisure Services Division, 203 East Gym, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, 1A 50614-0161. Note: Only research completed within the past two years will be considered for review.
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Title Annotation:Attention Deficit Disorder
Author:Jordan, Debra J.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1997
Previous Article:Camp is where the sidewalk ends.
Next Article:Coaching emotional skills at camp.

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