Camp Research Project: Purpose, Findings and Practical Applications

Posted on February 24, 2014 by Dr. Stephen Fine

The Canadian Camping Association, as a federation of camps across the country, is experiencing a variety of challenges: rising costs, shrinking youth market share, increased government scrutiny and regulation, and risk management issues.

Validated research is a powerful instrument for addressing and protecting this common interest because today more than ever before there is a vital need to back up our claims with evidence based research.

We now possess authoritative confirmation of our industry’s value through the findings of the CCA/ University of Waterloo (UW) “Canadian Summer Camp Research Project.” The next steps are to now effectively broadcast this information,  keep it in the public view, and to put it to practical purposes.

The research proved that camp provides development in five key areas:

Canada Kids Camps Research Benefits Development

Additionally, in the survey of over 1400 parents from across Canada, the overwhelming (or statistically significant) response was that lessons learned at camp successfully transfer from the camp environment to home, school and neighbourhood settings. Parents reported that they saw either a change for the better or an enhanced and continuing positive attitude in their children.

We do not intend to allow this study to languish. So, this is what we are now doing in order to assist you as camp professionals:

  1. The first resource soon to be available to camp directors and administrators will be a series of briefing papers. These are short, concise overviews of the findings related to each of the key development areas. These will offer insight to parents as to what outcomes a camp experience can reasonably provide for their child.
  2. The second resource will be information packages that will be of use to provincial camping associations or camps themselves. Individually keyed toward the purposes of public awareness, government lobbying, or the seeking of funding or sponsorship. These will be based on the CCA’s proven camp benefits backed up with findings from comparable research studies.
  3. In the longer run, staff training initiatives and program development based on CCA/UW research findings will be piloted at CCA camps in an effort to provide elements of intentionality to existing programs.
Stephen Fine, PhD, University of Toronto (OISE/UT), is a curriculum specialist and founder/co-director of The Hollows Camp. As a youth development professional and independent researcher, his interests include intra-group dynamics, learning in context, global citizenship, and the stewardship of natural lands. In addition to his duties with the CCA, he is also Co-Chair of the Research Committee for the International Camping Fellowship.