Camp Promotes Positive Change & Scientific Research Can Prove It

Voyageur I 2013 (73)

Research Alert!  The Immersive Experience of Summer Camp has Scientifically Proven Results!

We are happy to report that scientific research recently published supports what many parents and camp staff members have known intuitively for years.  Camp helps kids and youth to grow in obvious ways – now measurable – not just intuitively known by those who witness the growth.

Taken from Stephen Fine’s article:  To view full article, click here:   Stephen Fine, PhD, is a camp researcher, owner/director of The Hollows Camp, Ontario, Canada, and chair of the nation research committee for the Canadian Camping Association.

After six years, the results are in for the third and final phase of the Canadian Summer Camp Research Project (Glover et al., 2013), which focuses on Parent’s Perceptions of Changes in Children since Returning Home from Camp. This research confirms what camp directors have long known — that camp can often change a kid’s attitudes in a variety of positive ways at home, at school, and in the community. Given the commonality of camps in Canada and the United States, it’s not surprising that the Canadian study corroborates the findings of similar U.S. studies that surveyed the parents of campers (Dworken, 2001; Garst & Bruce, 2003; Henderson et al., 2007; Michalski et al., 2003).

Specifically, the Canadian study overall found that summer camps of at least a week’s duration provided an “immersive experience” that promoted development in five key outcome areas:

•social integration and citizenship

•environmental awareness

•attitudes toward physical activity

•emotional intelligence

•self-confidence and personal development

Based on these five outcome areas, a parent survey was completed two to four months after their kids returned home from camp. Demographic information was also collected on household income and family structure, as well as age, gender, language, cultural background, province of residence, previous camp experience, type of camp, and length of stay.

Phase three of the Canadian Summer Camp Research Project provides additional evidence to an ever-growing body of research showing that positive development that occurs at camp results in behavioral changes at home, school, and in community contexts. In short, the camp experience transfers to everyday life.

So why is this important?  Scientific research (because it is unbiased and pure – i.e. not linked to marketing or a particular camp) helps the summer camp industry in a myriad of ways.  It can be used to inform parents who know little or nothing about camp and can also give the industry clout in governmental decisions (i.e. tax credits for summer camp attendance).  Spread the word!  Scientific research  matters – even for summer camps.


Dworken, B.S. (2001). Research reveals the assets of camp: Parents and campers give their opinions. Retrieved from

Fine, S.M. (2005). Contextual learning with the residential outdoor experience: A case study of a summer camp community in Ontario. Retrieved from
Garst, B.A., & Bruce, F.A. (2003). Identifying 4-H camping outcomes using a standardized evaluation process across multiple 4-H educational centers. Journal of Extension,41(3).

Glover, et al. (2013). Canadian summer camp research project, phase 3, parent’s perceptions of changes in children since returning home from camp. Retrieved from

Henderson, K. et al. (2007). Summer camp experiences: Parental perceptions of youth development outcomes. Journal of Family Issues, 28; 987–1007. Retrieved from

Michalski, J.H. et al. (2003). A multimethod impact evaluation of a therapeutic summer camp program. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 20, 53-76.