Resource Library

Get Involved in Camp Research
Published Date: 2019-01-17

The ACA research team considers itself a hub that connects researchers and youth development professionals from a wide variety of organizations.  We are small but mighty! Read more about the people behind ACA’s research efforts and how you can get involved.

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National Study on the Developmental Outcomes of Camp

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 campers’ self-esteem, peer relationships, independence, leadership, and several other outcomes related to social-emotional learning.

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The youth development outcomes tools were designed specifically for camps interested in exploring what their campers gain from their camp experience. Camps use the data they gather using these tools to advocate for funding and to demonstrate to parents that camp experiences foster important developmental outcomes, such as:

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Our Research
Published Date: 2019-01-11

The ACA research team supports and facilitates rigorous research in order to expand the value and visibility of the camp experience and provide research-informed resources for camps.  Explore summaries, scholarly reports, research briefs, and research-informed resources from current and past research initiatives.
 

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At ACA, we believe that the value and visibility of the camp industry depends largely on the extent to which our camps are evaluating their campers, staff, programs, and operations, and using what they learn through their evaluations to strive for continuous program improvement. Explore ACA’s measurement tools and evaluation support services, as well as other youth outcomes and program quality assessment resources.

 

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5-Year Camp Impact Study
Published Date: 2019-01-01

It’s been over a decade since ACA conducted its first national study to identify what kids learn from camp experiences. ACA and its camp community used those findings to design programs, train staff, and advocate to parents and funders the value in sending a child to camp. But we need to know more.

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ACA relies on its camp community to support research. Nearly 80 ACA-accredited camps were selected from a stratified random sample to participate in the study by helping the research team recruit campers, former campers, staff, and parents to participate in Phases 1, 2, or three of the Youth Impact Study, the Spencer Foundation Study of Leadership Development at Camp, or the Staff Impact Study.

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The purpose of the Exploratory Phase, or Phase 1 of the Impact Study, was to identify distinct and transferable outcomes of the camp experience among emerging adults who attended camp as a child. Specifically, the research team explored the outcomes of camp that are distinct from other developmental contexts, such as school and sports, how camp participants use those outcomes to navigate work and school, and what happened at camp to facilitate outcome development.

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In the fall of each year, the ACA research team polls its members about their enrollment and staffing trends during the summer season.  Members respond anonymously and voluntarily, meaning the findings are best used as a snapshot instead of truly accurate and representative of the camp industry.

Reports are free for download.

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E.g., 2019-03-24
E.g., 2019-03-24