Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

Bibliographies of Camp-related Research

An examination of severely retarded children's behavior at two different residential settings.
Pohl, R.E.
Doctoral Dissertation, Boston University, 1981.

Determine the extent to which the residential camp environment and home environment affects the social and independent functioning behaviors of mentally retarded children.

Three severely retarded boys.

Method: Boys were observed at home and at camp by trained observers. Observations were 40-50 minutes long and took place at various times of the day. The observers recorded observations about the interactions between adults and children and the behavior and attitudes displayed by the boys in each setting.  Camp Christopher provided a 30-day residential training program designed to increase the self-sufficiency of the children and maintain the child within his family. Each child had an individualized treatment plan designed to improve self-care, social, and educational skills.

Instrument: The Behavior-Person-Environment (B-P-E) paradigm was used as a framework for observations in this study.


  • Phase 1: Collection of information on the influence of the home environment on the child's behavior.
  • Phase 2: Collection of information on the influence of the camp environment on the child's behavior.

Data Analysis: observations were transformed into derived scores. A narrative description of the home and camp environments was also provided.


  • Researchers characterized the boys' home lives as consisting of little interaction or planned activity, with the mother taking the role of primary caregiver. Mothers attempted to alter the boys' behavior only on rare occasions.
  • The characteristics identified as contributing most significantly to the child's experience at camp were: detailed daily organization of each boy's schedule, close monitoring of children's behavior, substantial interaction between children and staff, and frequent communication among staff. Counselors gave attention to decreasing inappropriate behaviors.
  • As a result of the camp experience the boys improved in basic skills, especially in the areas of personal hygiene and eating.
  • The structure and systematic organization of the camp setting had a greater influence on the behavior of the children than the more unstructured home setting.
  • The linking of environmental consequences that satisfied basic human needs to the display of specific behaviors was considered to be a key factor in the influence of the camp setting on the boys' behaviors.
  • The support for the staff caregivers in the camp setting was seen as important in enabling them to maintain the daily care of the boys.