In 2003-2004 the American Camp Association conducted research with over 7600 campers (aged 10-18) from just over 80 ACA-Accredited camps to determine the degree to which developmental supports and opportunities were reported/received by those campers.
Which of the critical youth development domains do you believe was the strongest in camps, and which presents the greatest opportunity for improvement?
- Supportive Relationships
- Safety (physical and emotional)
- Youth Involvement (including leadership and decision-making)
- Skill Building
This research results demonstrate that:
- Camps, more than some other youth programs, provide positive developmental environments for youth, especially in providing supportive relationships with adults and peers, and in skill building.
- While strengths vary by camp type and sponsor, ALL camps have the potential to provide positive experiences foundational to practicing successful life skills.
- The value of camp for campers is enhanced by attending camps in multiple summers or for sessions that are as long as practicable.
- Campers perceive safety at camp differently than adults. Directors were surprised to learn that their efforts in risk management address different safety issues than the ones that concern campers.
- Campers, other than CITs, report few opportunities for meaningful involvement in leadership and decision-making about things that matter.
- The greatest challenge for all youth programs, including camps, after-school programs and schools, is to provide meaningful opportunities for youth to learn and practice life-building skills in leadership and decision-making.