Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Attitudes of Children Without Disabilities Toward Peers with Disabilities: The Effect of Contact in a Summer Camp Program 
Finch, J.G.
Doctoral Dissertation, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 1998.

Examine the changes in attitudes of children without disabilities toward their peers with disabilities in an inclusive summer day camp setting.

Subjects: 611 campers (boys and girls), ages 8-12.
Camp Affiliation: Jewish Community Center Day Camps using Open Hearts, Open Doors Programs.

Method: Eight-week summer day camp program, six hours/day, five days/week. Program included specific inclusion interventions such as: circle of friends (peer support group for campers with disabilities), information meetings for campers without disabilities, Kids on the Block performance, inclusive fine arts performances, non-disabled-disabled buddy system for transportation around camp and in daily activities, and modifications to all sports activities to accommodate campers with disabilities. Disabilities included: autism, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, severe cerebral palsy, emotional disturbances, ADD, auditory impairment, neurological impairment, and perceptual impairment.

Instrument: Three-point attitude survey, a revision of The Acceptance Scale (22 positive and negative statements about children with disabilities).

Design: 411 campers in the inclusive camp setting, 200 in the control group at a comparable, non-inclusive day camp. Comparable number of males and females in treatment group, twice as many females as males in the control group. Pre-test/post-test design with control group (Group x Gender x Grade x Time of Test).

Data Analysis: ANOVA


  • Significant differences between groups on pre-test, so no other between group comparisons were performed.
  • Significant overall positive attitude change in children without disabilities toward children with disabilities in the inclusive group. No change for non-inclusive group.
  • No significant attitude change between groups by gender.
  • Significant grade level differences between groups: significant positive change in attitude for grades 5 & 6 in inclusive camp setting and negative changes in attitude in grades 5 & 6 for campers in non-inclusive setting.
  • No significant overall attitude changes related to gender, but there were significant differences based on gender on individual questions.
  • There were higher mean scores for females than for males in both groups.
  • The researcher attributed success to the intensive staff training and commitment to the goals of the program, enabling staff to reach a comfort level conducive to success.