Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Programming and self-concept: How does what you do affect how they feel about themselves?
Cowin, L.
Camping Magazine, (May, 1989), pp. 46-48.

Discover what factors of the camping experience affect campers' self-concept.

147 female campers, grades 5-11
Camp Affiliation: Camp Belvoir Terrace, MA.


  • Method: Qualitative methods: campers made daily journal entries about what they liked most and least during the day and descriptions of positive and negative feelings about those experiences during the 54-day camp experience.
  • Design and Data Analysis: Content analysis method used to identify categories related to self-concept. Mean percentages of negative and positive comments were calculated for each category. Subjects' journal references were divided into four groups for analysis: grade 11, grades 9 & 10, grades 7 & 8, and grades 5 & 6.


  • Journal entry analysis resulted in 8 categories related to self-concept: a supportive, caring/sharing environment, interactions between counselors and campers, opportunities to experiment, opportunities to experience success, opportunities to fail, opportunities to experience feelings of empowerment and effectiveness, feelings of stress and pressure, and program-related experiences.
  • Campers recorded four times more positive experiences than negative ones
  • Only 5% of journal entries were related to interactions with staff.
  • 28.5% of journal entries were related to program experiences (19% positive, 10% negative). The two oldest camper groups indicated that participation and progress in program experiences and afforded them the greatest number of opportunities to feel positively about themselves. Younger campers placed more emphasis on having fun and less on self-improvement opportunities in connection with program.
  • Peer judgments produced the largest percentage of negative feelings related to the program.
  • Class placement levels were very important to campers, who placed greater value on being assigned to advanced level classes and expressed negative feelings about being placed in lower level classes.
  • Campers placed value on confronting failure in a positive and supportive environment.
  • Opportunities to experience personal success within the program significantly enhanced campers' positive feelings about themselves.