Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Do outdoor education experiences contribute to positive development in the affective domain? 
Crompton, J.L. and Sellar, S.
The Journal of Environmental Education, 12.4 (1981), 21-29.

Review current literature to determine whether the empirical evidence supports the assertion that outdoor education contributes to positive affective development, specifically to development in self-concept, socialization, attitude toward the outdoors, and attitude toward school and teachers.

Subjects in the studies were school-aged children ranging in age from eight to 18.
Camp experiences included resident and day camps. Length of experiences ranged from a 7-hour nature center experience to two-week residential camp and six-week day camp experiences.


  • Self-concept: Three approaches: direct measures of self-concept, discrepancy scores, locus of control orientation measures. Instruments used included: Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale, Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale, Lipsitt Self-Concept Scale.
  • Racial Integration: Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, qualitative measures.
  • Disadvantaged Groups and Socialization and Teacher-Student Relationships: specific instruments not reported.
  • Impact on Attitude Toward Outdoors as a Learning Environment: Millward-Ginter Outdoor Attitude Inventory, semantic differential instrument using paired adjectives, Environmental Attitude Inventory Grade B, 20 statements related to outdoor camp rated using a Likert Scale.


  • Qualitative and quantitative designs were used.
  • Most designs were pre-test/post-test designs. Some use of follow-up or retention post-test.
  • Some use of control groups, randomization and matching


  • Enhanced self-concept and positive changes in locus of control, with some positive retention effects in self-concept.
  • Facilitation of peer socialization and racial integration with some transfer effects to the classroom.
  • Improved teacher-student relationships.
  • More stimulating educational environment if the subject area was closely related to the outdoors and the experience was long enough.
  • Contradictory findings on the impact of the outdoor education experience on economically disadvantaged students.
  • Little support for positive effect of outdoor education experiences on attitudes toward school.
  • The research in this area is sparse and most of what exists is on the master's thesis and doctoral dissertation level rather than published research in professional journals.
  • There were fewer studies on the effects of programs on participants than on leadership preparation, philosophy, program development, etc.
  • The reviewer noted the following design weaknesses: lack of retention tests, inadequate control and randomization, possible experimenter bias, small samples not representative of the larger population, use of instruments with untested reliability and validity.
  • The reviewer recommended the use of the Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale as appropriate for use in outdoor education studies.