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Similarities and differences in summer camps

Jan 1, 2021 | Camp Programs, Scholarly Publications

A mixed methods study of lasting outcomes and program elements

Summer camps are a setting well-suited for social-emotional learning. Increasing evidence supports this claim, yet little research has investigated the similarities and differences in the lasting outcomes of attending camp based on camp types characterized by different programmatic foci and the populations served. In this study, we sought to determine if there were similarities and differences in the outcomes and the program elements responsible for lasting outcomes based on camp type. Using a mixed-methods approach, 744 former campers from four camp types (medically-focused, faith-based, all-girls, and camps serving youth from low-income backgrounds) and a comparison group (referent panel) reported on the outcomes they learned at camp that they identify as important to their daily lives. Profile analysis results suggested both common and different outcomes across camp types. Qualitative data largely supported the quantitative results and provided details to help explain similarities and differences based on camp type. This study provides evidence of the developmental outcomes afforded by camp that last past attendance and the program elements important to outcome development regardless of camp type.


  • Former campers identified lasting outcomes of camp and important program elements.
  • There was a core of outcomes and program elements across camp types.
  • Some camp types afforded different outcomes via different program elements.


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