Outcomes of the summer camp experience for youth-at-risk at Camp Tippy Canoe, NB

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University of New Brunswick


Summer camps provide youth with opportunities to foster social, emotional, physical, and interpersonal development by offering novel, challenging, and engaging experiences that effectively open the learning pathways (Merryman, Mezei, Bush, & Weinstein, 2012). Researchers have only recently started to gather empirical information on the impact of the summer camp experience for youth-at-risk and as such the literature available on the subject is scant. This research aimed to contribute to understanding in this area through a study of youth-at-risk attending Camp Tippy Canoe in New Brunswick. Specifically, the purpose of the study was to explore the personal benefits youth-at-risk gain from attending an outdoor summer camp program and to compare the results to the findings of a general focus study of summer camps in Canada. This study was conducted during the summer of 2014 and it was modeled on the Canadian Summer Camp Research Project undertaken in 2011 through the University of Waterloo. In the current study, a total of 102 young people ranging from 10-17 years of age were observed by camp staff. Data collection was guided by a set series of questions adapted from the Canadian Summer Camp Research Project, at two intervals (48 hours after the start of camp and at the end of camp). The findings from this study showed youth who attended Camp Tippy Canoe displayed positive change in five key areas of development: social connections and integration, environmental awareness, self-confidence and personal development, emotional intelligence, and attitudes towards physical activity. Further analyses revealed that certain subgroups of campers showed more change in specific areas of development.