Directions: Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience

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.