ACA REPORT- Directions: Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience

Directions - View the full report (PDF - 2.8MB)

Between 2001 and 2004 the American Camp Association conducted national research with over 5000 families from 80 ACA-Accredited camps to determine the outcomes of the camp experience as expressed by parents and children.

Parents, camp staff, and children reported significant growth in:

  • Self-esteem
  • Peer relationships
  • Independence
  • Adventure and exploration
  • Leadership
  • Environmental awareness
  • Friendship skills
  • Values and decisions
  • Social comfort
  • Spirituality

The findings from this national study indicated that camp is a unique educational institution and a positive force in youth development. The camp experience can benefit children by increasing:

  • confidence and self-esteem
  • social skills and making friends
  • independence and leadership qualities
  • willingness to try and adventurousness
  • spiritual growth, especially at camps focused on spirituality.

No differences were found based on the camp type (day, resident) or session length.

For more information on the actual instrumentation, please visit the Camper Growth Index site where details about the instrumentation developed and used in the ACA National Outcomes Study are discussed. Free access to the instruments are also described along with the access process.