Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

The effects of integrated summer day camp programs on children without disabilities.
Gruber, B.K.
Doctoral Dissertation, University of Maryland, 1992.

Investigate the effects of an integrated day camp experience on attitudes of children without disabilities toward children with disabilities

281 children without disabilities and 21 children with disabilities, ages 5-13. Disabilities included mental retardation, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, physical disabilities, and autism.

Method: Camp Program: four different five-day/week, two-week day camp sessions at 21 different day camps sponsored by the county Department of Recreation in a major metropolitan area. The camps included day camp programs for children ages 5-9 (crafts, nature, games, sports, singing, recreational swimming, special events) and special interest programs (sports, nature) for children ages 8-13. There were 16-80 children at each camp.

Design: Randomized group design with three treatment conditions. Treatment conditions included:

  • SA: sensitivity awareness training by a team of four staff, each presenting a module on a specific disability. A 30 minute discussion group was conducted on the second or third day of camp. The discussion focused on what disabilities are, individual similarities and differences, likes, dislikes, and abilities of campers, and guidelines for talking to and helping friends, including those who have disabilities.
  • DE: sensitivity awareness training by a single staff person presenting information on the specific disability of the disabled camper who would be in that session. Specific guidelines for how to talk to and help a person with the specific type of disability were included.
  • IO: Integration only: no information about disabilities was presented. Staff answered questions by individual campers about disabilities.

Instruments: Post-session questionnaires were used to measure attitudes of campers without disabilities toward persons having disabilities. Direct observation time sampling was used to measure social interaction. Observations were conducted once each week of the two-week session. A social validation questionnaire was used to gather information about staff.

Data Analysis: 3x2 Chi-square analysis was used to analyze the dichotomous data from the attitude measure and to measure the effects of the treatment conditions on staff satisfaction. A linear models procedure with repeated measures ANOVA was used to analyze social interaction data.


  • No differences in attitudes of campers without disabilities towards campers with disabilities across the three treatment groups. All three groups reported positive attitudes towards campers with disabilities.
  • Campers in the two awareness groups indicated knowledge about what a disability is more frequently than those in the control group. Campers in these two groups were also more likely to say that children with disabilities should be at camp.
  • No differences across groups on the social interaction measure.
  • Staff were more satisfied with the SE treatment than with the DE treatment. They preferred having disability information presented to campers as opposed to no information presented. Half of the staff thought that the information presented was not used by the campers, but did report positive experiences for the campers.