2020 ACA Research Forum

Share your camp-related research at the 2020 Camp Research Forum, held in conjunction with the American Camp Association National Conference, February 11-14, 2020, in San Diego, CA!

New This Year

Instead of the traditional "15+5" minute presentation format, the new Camp Research Forum format on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 will consist of 5-minute "ignite" presentations grouped into three sessions, and one panel session. The change was made to facilitate more and higher quality interactions between researchers and camp professionals. Poster sessions and the Research Social & Awards Recognition will remain. More information about the new format follows.

Camp Research Forum Submission Details

We welcome studies completed by faculty, students, researchers, and camp professionals. The focus of this Forum is to communicate the applications of completed research to camp professionals. A double-blind peer-review process will examine the appropriate research designs and rigor, but the presentations need to be practitioner-friendly and emphasize the application of the findings to building a body of camp knowledge.

The Camp Research Forum proposals should include (and will be reviewed according to) the following criteria: timeliness and importance given trends and issues affecting camp, theoretical framework, methods, analysis procedures, conclusions, and clear and actionable recommendations for camp practice. The submission of research proposals is an online process and allows uploading a Word document of the proposal. Abstracts should be NO LONGER THAN 1,000 words (including references), with 12 pt Times New Roman font and identifying author information deleted. Graphs and charts can be included but should be limited because they are part of the word counts. The expectation is that the research abstract includes at least a minimum of preliminary results from completed data collection at the time of submission. Report on findings, not on proposed research. The proposed paper should not have been previously presented at another conference or published elsewhere.

The Camp Research Forum consists of three presentation formats: ignite session, panel session, and poster session. All abstract submissions undergo the same blind peer-review process and will be grouped according to broad topical areas or themes. For the review process, no distinction is made regarding presentation format. The schedule regarding the format will depend on the way that abstracts group together and the space limitations at the conference.

  1. Ignite-session: The ignite session is a collection of 5-minute verbal presentations from researchers about their study with a focus on the results and implications for practitioners. There will be 6-8 ignite presentations per session, grouped according to topic or theme (i.e., staff training, youth outcomes, parents, summer learning, management). After the ignite presentations, the audience is invited to talk with the researchers directly. Researchers display their posters on easels to aid in their conversations with the audience members. Upon acceptance, researchers submit to the Camp Research Forum coordinator one powerpoint slide for their presentation, to be projected during their five-minute presentation so the audience receives both visual and verbal information about the study.
  2. Panel session: A panel session is a group of 4-5 researchers including or plus one panel moderator organized around a topic of interest to camp professionals, especially topics that are timely or connected to larger societal trends in camps. The panel session is invited after the abstracts are reviewed and accepted, in collaboration with ACA’s director of research and the Camp Research Forum coordinator. Examples of panel sessions could include: ACA Youth Impact Study oversample camps’ results, social-emotional learning, medical specialty camp research, or other topics.
  3. Poster session: All accepted abstracts will also be included in the poster session. All individuals who make oral presentations are also required to provide a poster. Abstracts that do not cleanly align with the oral presentations in the ignite sessions or panel session will be included in the poster session. The poster session will be held in/near the exhibit hall for a 1-2 hour time block during unopposed program time on Thursday, February 13, 2020. Researchers are expected to be present during the poster session.

While the Camp Research Forum abstract proposals should include the traditional research details for the review process, the presentations should focus on applications and implications – a sizable percentage of attendees of the Camp Research Forum are non-academic camp professionals. If selected for the Camp Research Forum, presenters will be expected to provide an abstract and presentation slides to be posted on the ACA research web site for wider distribution.

Marge Scanlin Outstanding Student Research Award

Student researchers may want to submit their project for consideration for the Marge Scanlin Outstanding Student Research Award. This award is given each year to a deserving student who has contributed to the camp research body of knowledge. The purpose of the award is to encourage students to undertake camp research and present their findings at the annual ACA conference. Selection is based on the quality of the abstract as well as the overall contributions the student as well as the research project has made to the camp movement. Students wishing to be accepted for the Scanlin Award should be the first author on the abstract. A monetary scholarship will be awarded to the student who is selected for the Scanlin Award. The student is expected to attend the conference to present the research and to use the monetary award to help defray conference expenses.  The student selected must be an active ACA member at the time the award is given. All student members receive complimentary registration for the conference. View more information on the Scanlin Award or contact Ann Gillard at anngillard@gmail.com

Presenter Expectations

If a proposal is accepted for presentation and/or as a poster, we expect the author to attend the conference to fulfill that obligation. People presenting their research at the conference are expected to register for at least one day. We appreciate the contributions made by researchers through their participation in the Camp Research Forum and the conference in general.

Review Expectations

Summaries will undergo review by a review team with expertise in camp and youth development research. Submissions for the Marge Scanlin Research Award will undergo a separate review process by ACA’s Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation (CARE). Papers may be rejected due to ineffective development of the summary, weaknesses in the study design, lack of developed applications, or time and space limitations.

Submission Deadline and Timetable

Call for Proposals will close September 30, 2019 and e-mail notification of status will be made no later than November 15, 2019. Revised three-page abstracts will be due December 1 and posters completed and submitted by December 31. Ignite session powerpoint slides are due February 1.

We hope you will submit your research for consideration and look forward to offering a premier Forum on camp-related research.

Submission period has ended.


Special thanks to The Redwoods Group for sponsoring the Research Forum.
Redwoods Group