by Gwynn M. Powell, Ph.D.
As we gain access to and create better skills and tools to document the outcomes that occur as a result of the camp experience, we have an opportunity to partner with other youth development agencies to provide skill development contexts for children and youth. School-camp partnerships are a natural collaboration that allows learning and growth in a different environment than the school setting. The following studies were presented at the 2004 Camp Research Symposium held at the American Camping Association National Conference and provide practical applications for camp directors and staff to consider for the current season and beyond.
Bridging Schools to Camp: Residential Outdoor Education Program Outcomes
Allison Dowell and Chuck Wurth
The surveys were sent to schools one full week after their three- to five-day residential outdoor education experience during the spring and fall of 2003. Surveys were sent in a packet to the school principal, and each survey had the teacher’s name on a sticky note. The total number of participants attending Outdoor Education, including students, counselors, and teachers was 1,045. The survey was sent to fifty teachers and thirty-four were returned. Of those returned half were from the spring, and half were from the fall program.
The highest gains in subject areas were:
The overall ratings were high with the lowest average being for the indicators of: increased decision-making skills (3.9) and the subject area of language arts (3.5).
The open-ended question identified gains in gross motor activities as highlights for the students. These activities are not normally found at school: canoeing, archery, zipline, night hikes, reptile class taught using live snakes, and evening dances. The greatest impacts identified in the open-ended question were realized in cooperation, communication, respect for one another, working together toward a common goal, being part of a group, and communicating.
4-H and School-Based Outdoor Education Partnership: Assessing Problem Solving and Teamwork Skills
The participants were five sixth-grade classes and one fifth-grade class (221 students total, with 157 receiving parental permission to complete the survey) from an urban school district in a Midwestern city who participated in an outdoor education partnership program.
The survey was developed using Purdue University, Cooperative Extension’s 4-Fold Youth Development Model instruments. The problem-solving and leadership instruments were shortened and changed into a retrospective pre-post survey format to reduce the time required to take the survey and to eliminate “frame of reference” bias.