Children, Counselors Greatly Benefit from Mentoring Relationships Fostered at Camp
MARTINSVILLE, IN (March 13, 2007) —The relationship between camp counselors and campers has long been a strong example of positive mentoring, according to the American Camp Association (ACA), and research from Teens Today corroborates the view of ACA.
Teens Today research recently released by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Liberty Mutual Group verifies that young people benefit from strong mentoring relationships. This research supports the viewpoint of the American Camp Association (ACA) that the relationship between camp counselors and campers has long been a strong example of positive mentoring.
According to Teens Today, middle and high school students reporting a high level of mentoring are significantly more likely than those reporting a low level of mentoring to avoid risky behaviors. More to the point, young people who have attended a day or overnight summer camp are less likely to drink (26 percent vs. 36 percent); use marijuana (8 percent vs. 18 percent); or engage in sexual behavior, such as intercourse (29 percent vs. 40 percent) or oral sex (29 percent vs. 39 percent) than are their noncamper peers.
The ACA reports that there are 1.2 million camp staff nationwide who benefit from serving as mentors to children and 10 million children who attend camp annually who benefit from having mentors at camp in their lives.
"The camp experience has always encouraged children and young people to adopt healthy lifestyles and to take positive risks in a safe and nurturing environment," says Peg L. Smith, CEO of ACA. "It is no surprise to us that camp counselors and campers positively benefit from the mentor relationship fostered at camp."
There are other important benefits as well. Young people with a mentor are more likely to report having a high sense of self (46 percent vs. 25 percent) and to say they take positive risks (38 percent vs. 28 percent), such as performing charitable work, starting a business, taking advanced placement courses, or trying out for a sports team.
Also, sense of self and positive risk-taking are each linked to lower incidences of destructive, or potentially destructive, behaviors and to overall mental health.
"This new research demonstrates that there are a whole host of opportunities for adults to influence teenagers outside of formal or planned mentoring programs," said Stephen Wallace, school psychologist, adolescent counselor, and the chairman and chief executive officer of the national SADD organization. "We see this research as a call to action to adults who interact with teenagers—either in their professional lives or in their daily routines. This research shows that adults who make extra efforts to connect with teenagers can have a profound impact in guiding our nation's youth."
The American Camp Association works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org .