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.
The findings from this national study indicated that camp is a unique educational context and a positive force in youth development, regardless of camp type or session length.
Developmental Supports & Opportunities at Camp
In 2003-2004 the American Camp Association conducted research with over 7600 campers (aged 10-18) from just over 80 ACA-Accredited camps to explore the developmental supports and opportunities campers experience at camp.
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. Findings also suggest that the value of camp for campers is enhanced by attending camps in multiple summers or for sessions that are as long as practicable.
Camp Program Improvement Project
In 2004-2005 the American Camp Association completed a Program Improvement Project with twenty-three ACA-accredited camps to learn what strategies and approaches would help strengthen the experiences of youth at camp.
We learned that camps of all types increased the benefits for campers by specifically targeting improvement areas and using a continuous improvement process. In fact, 83% of camps in ACA’s study showed significant improvement in one or more dimensions vital to positive camper development. These dimensions included areas such as peer relationships, emotional safety, decision making, and challenging activities. Simply selecting another camp’s strategies is not nearly as effective as using a process for self-examination that results in strategies that are designed by campers and staff and intentionally applied to the camp setting.