Please consider sharing your camp-related research at the 2024 Camp Research Forum, held in conjunction with the American Camp Association National Conference, February 13-16, in New Orleans, LA, and sharing this information with other camp researchers and evaluators including faculty and students.

Camp Research Forum Submission Details

We welcome abstracts of 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.

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 or conceptual framework, methods, analysis procedures, limitations or generalizability, conclusions, and clear and actionable recommendations for camp practice. 

The submission of research abstracts is an online process and allows uploading a Word document of the paper. Proposals should be NO LONGER THAN 1,000 words (including references), with 12 pt Times New Roman font; identifying author information should not be included on the proposal. Graphs and charts may be included but should be limited because they are part of the word count.

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 research. The proposed paper should not have been previously exactly presented at another conference or published as an abstract 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 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 3-5 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, parents, summer learning, management). After the ignite presentations, the session moderator will invite general questions for the researchers about the topic. To submit for consideration at an Ignite Session, select that option on the online form. 
  2. Panel Session: A panel session is a group of 3-4 researchers including or in addition to 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. Examples of panel sessions could include: equity and justice, COVID-19, staff training, social-emotional learning, STEM, medical specialty camp research, or other contemporary topics. 

    A panel session proposal should be submitted by the moderator via email (not the ACA Research Forum online portal). The email should include an attached Word document following the guidelines for all Forum proposals; send the proposal to Dr. Ann Gillard at The proposal must include: the panel title, abstract and description of the panel session (1,000 words or less), three participant learning goals, and the names and affiliations of the 3-4 presenters. Note that panel submissions do not go through the ACA Research Forum submission portal. Instead, email panel proposals to Dr. Gillard directly. During the session each panelist will be allowed to display one slide illustrating their main findings and implications for practice.  
  3. Poster Session: All accepted abstracts will also be included in the poster session. After acceptance, all individuals who make oral presentations are required to provide a PowerPoint file for their poster. Abstracts that do not cleanly align with the oral presentations in the Ignite or Panel sessions 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. Researchers are expected to be present during the poster session. To submit for consideration for a poster session, select that option on the online form. 

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 slide to be posted on the ACA research web site for wider distribution.

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 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 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

Presenter Expectations

If a proposal is accepted for presentation and/or as a poster, the author is expected 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 Outstanding Student Research Award will undergo a separate review process by ACA’s Research and Evaluation Advisory Committee (REAC). 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, 2023 and e-mail notification of status will be made no later than November 15, 2023. Revised three-page abstracts and posters are due by December 31, 2023. Panel powerpoint slides are due February 1, 2024.

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

There will be a pre-conference gathering for camp researchers on Tuesday of the conference week to (a) build community and (b) increase researchers’ skills in methods. More information will be available in the coming months.

Submit a Proposal

Submissions will remain open until September 30, 2023.


Thanks to our research partner, Redwoods.