Please consider sharing your camp-related research at the 2025 Camp Research Forum, held in conjunction with the American Camp Association National Conference, February 18-21, in Dallas, TX. Please help spread the word by sharing this information with other interdisciplinary researchers and evaluators, including faculty, students, researchers, and professionals.

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 large percentage of attendees of the Camp Research Forum sessions are non-academic camp professionals.

New guidelines and requirements this year! Please carefully read info below.

Camp Research Forum Submission Details

We welcome abstracts of interdisciplinary studies completed by faculty, students, researchers, and camp professionals. The purpose of the Research Forum is to share new knowledge with professionals as well as fellow researchers. An identity-hidden peer-review process will be utilized to examine all abstracts. Appropriate research designs and rigor are vital; equally important is that the presentation of findings be practitioner-friendly and emphasize the application of the findings to facilitate evidence-based practice in the camp profession.

Typical abstract format and sections (1,200 words):

  1. Introduction (background research, theoretical foundation for the study, positionality statement as appropriate (i.e., how the authors’ identities relate to the topic and/or participants - particularly race, ethnicity, gender, and ability where applicable), need for the study, research question(s))
  2. Methods (data collection, data analysis)
  3. Results (include relevant information about the diversity of study participants (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, gender, ability))
  4. Discussion and Conclusions
  5. Implications for Practice
  6. References (included in the word count)

ACA Research Forum proposals will be reviewed according to the following criteria which were adapted from the Journal of Youth Development:

  • Significance of topic: Abstracts should address topics that are relevant for and important to camp practitioners. They should address key issues of camp practice and/or research.
  • Originality: Abstracts should introduce new and innovative work and ideas. They should add to existing knowledge of best practice, research, or theory.
  • Theoretical foundation: Research questions should be theory-predicated.
  • Methodological rigor: Abstracts should meet high standards of methodological rigor, using credible, valid, and reliable methods that align with theory-predicated research questions. Include limitations of the study such as those related to generalizability.
  • Coherence of writing: Abstracts should be clear, organized, and well-developed. They should make sense, be well written, and easy for camp audiences to understand.
  • Application for practice: Following the guidelines around evidence-based practice, abstracts should have clear implications for practice that are useful, realistic, and relevant for camp professionals’ consideration.
  • I.D.E.A.S. framework (Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Access, and the Supports needed) – Abstracts should show evidence that authors have considered issues of inclusivity, diversity, equity, access, and supports needed throughout the research study processes.

The submission of research abstracts is an online process and allows uploading a Word document of the abstract. Proposals should be NO LONGER THAN 1,200 words (including references), with 12 pt Times New Roman font, single spaced. Identifying author information should not be included on or within the Word document. Graphs and charts may be included but should be limited because they are part of the word count. Abstracts will not be edited; content that exceeds the 1,200 word count will be deleted before sending to reviewers.

The expectation is that the research abstract includes a minimum of preliminary results from completed data collection at the time of submission. Presenters are expected to report on findings, not on proposed or in-process research. The study reflected in the abstract should not have been previously exactly presented at another conference or published as an abstract elsewhere.

The Camp Research Forum consists of two possible presentation formats: Ignite Session and Poster Session. All abstract submissions undergo the same identity-hidden peer-review process and will be grouped according to broad topical areas or themes. For the review process, no distinction is made regarding requested presentation format. The schedule regarding the format will depend on the way that abstracts group together and the space limitations at the conference. Please note that all accepted abstracts (including those submitted for an Ignite Session) will be included in the Poster Session.

  1. Ignite Session: The ignite session is a collection of 10-minute verbal presentations from researchers about their study with a focus on the results and implications for practitioners. After each presentation will be a 2-3 minute opportunity for audience questions. There will be 4-5 ignite presentations per session, grouped according to topic or theme (e.g., staff training, youth outcomes, summer learning, management). After the ignite presentations, the session moderator will invite general questions for the researchers about the topic. If you prefer to submit an Ignite Session (only) rather than a poster presentation, select the Ignite Session option on the online submission form.
  2. Poster Session: If you prefer to submit a poster (only) rather than a verbal presentation (Ignite Session) select the Poster Session option on the online submission form.

After acceptance, all presenters are required to provide a one-slide PowerPoint file. The slide will serve as the poster to be displayed in/near the Exhibit Hall. Formatting requirements will be sent after notice of acceptance. The Poster Session will be held in/near the exhibit hall for a 1-2 hour time block during unopposed program time. Researchers are expected to be present during the designated Poster Session time period. In addition to the designated time period, posters will be displayed during Exhibit Hall hours and available for view by conference attendees.

If selected for the Camp Research Forum, all verbal and poster presenters will also be required to provide a revised 3-page abstract to be posted on the ACA research website for wider distribution. The one-slide PowerPoint file will also be added to the abstract for each paper. The 3-page abstracts (and poster slides) will be published and available on the ACA website.

Marge Scanlin Outstanding Student Research Award

Students who submit an abstract for consideration as part of the ACA Research Forum may also wish to submit their project for consideration for the Marge Scanlin Outstanding Student Research Award. This award is presented 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 facilitate the sharing of their findings at the annual ACA national conference. Selection is based on the quality of the abstract as well as the overall contributions the student and the research project has made to the camp movement. To be eligible for the Scanlin Award students must be the sole or first author on the abstract.  

The student who is selected for the Scanlin Award is expected to attend the ACA National Conference to present their research. The award includes funding intended 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 Dr. Eddie Hill at

While specific to students, guidelines and submission requirements for consideration for the Marge Scanlin Outstanding Student Research Award are the same as those for all who submit proposals to the ACA Research Forum.

Review Expectations

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

Presenter Expectations – All Formats

Regardless of format (Ignite or Poster) all presenters are expected to attend the conference (using the reduced speaker registration fee) to fulfill their presentation 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.

Research Forum Submission Deadline and Timetable

Call for Proposals will close September 30, 2024 and email notification of status will be made no later than November 15, 2024. Revised three-page abstracts and posters (one PowerPoint slide) are due by December 31, 2024. Posters will be printed by ACA and made available to presenters at the conference

Submit a Proposal

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

Lastly, we are excited to announce that there will be a preconference gathering for camp researchers on Tuesday of the conference week to (a) build community, (b) share ideas, and (c) enhance research skills. More information will be available in the coming months and we hope that you will join us.

Research Forum submissions will remain open until September 30, 2024.

Please address any questions to Ann and/or Deb at the following email addresses:

Ann Gillard, Ph.D.
ACA Camp Research Forum Co-Coordinator
Research Director, SeriousFun Children’s Network

Deb Jordan, Re.D.
ACA Camp Research Forum Co-Coordinator
Department of Recreation Sciences
East Carolina University


Thanks to our research partner, Redwoods.