A specialist outdoor adventure camp last year left eight-year-old Michael Ma tired, dirty, happy - and better able to cope with life. Michael has attention deficit disorder and his mother, Katrina Ma, has no doubts that sending him on the Growth Through Outdoor Adventure Learning (GOAL) camp was a positive way for him to use his high energy levels. It also enabled him to bond with several other children - unusual for him. 'It makes them feel good to get out and do active things,' she said. 'Working together as a team to do things was strongly emphasised and also getting things done for themselves. They cook their own food and make their own sleeping arrangements.' While many summer courses are aimed at pushing children academically, GOAL camps at Sai Kung and Cheung Chau are designed to build self-esteem in those with difficulties, from shyness and phobias to attention deficit disorder - needs often overlooked. They involve activities such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, abseiling and jumping from a 10-metre platform to a swinging trapeze. And this year, one group will add sailing, snorkelling, stargazing, jungle trekking and more with a sail training voyage around the Malaysian islands scheduled for July. Each programme is tailored to the needs of the particular children attending by GOAL's clinical director, psychologist Dr Jadis Blurton, who is also clinical director of Therapy Associates. For example, participants in a camp where one of the children had trouble winding down, all learned a fun relaxation technique. Children who were starved of positive feedback at school often developed 'learned helplessness', she said. 'When they are out doing these insanely scary things, they come back glowing with self-confidence,' Dr Blurton said. 'We have a lot of kids think they are the only ones ever to take medication or have problems. They give up before they start. We teach them they don't need to give up,' she said, adding even unsuccessful attempts were praiseworthy. Each day of camp, Dr Blurton runs 'circle time' where children develop and share problem-solving approaches. 'If you try to look for strategies, that's half the battle conquered. The only strategy that doesn't work is: 'I give up.'' Dr Blurton said it was easy to lose sight of the importance of a positive attitude, as opposed to specific academic knowledge. 'It really is a matter of taking what you have got and building the strategy and positive attitude to go with that,' she said. 'Lots of times, we forget that in school because we're trying to teach them about maths. Really, their feelings about maths are more important. If a kid doesn't learn the six-times table at the same time as everyone else, but likes maths, they will learn it later. If a kid hates maths, they might never learn it,' she said. The GOAL programme, which started last year, is the creation of Dr Blurton and the founder of Premier Sports and Leisure Ltd, Nicole Arnulphy. Dr Blurton interviews potential participants and their parents, to assess their needs and whether they are suitable for the camp. Ms Arnulphy runs the outdoor side of things. She said that the outdoor activities were similar to those in her regular camps, but there was more focus in the GOAL programme on reviewing and praising participants' achievements and attempts - as well as a higher staff ratio. Both Dr Blurton and Ms Arnulphy share a personal, as well as professional, interest in the area. Dr Blurton has a 10-year-old grandson in the US with attention deficit disorder. Ms Arnulphy, who grew up in Hong Kong, suffers dyslexia but found satisfaction in childhood and a career as an adult outdoors. Ms Arnulphy said the setting of the camp challenged children: 'There's no bad grades. There's no judgment, just reinforcement of good stuff.'