Global Research by Canadian Camp Director, Dr. Stephen Fine

Posted on November 25, 2009 by spreston

At the 10th Biennial Research Symposium of the Coalition for Education in the Outdoors (CEO) at Indiana University’s Bradford Woods campus on January 15-17, 2010, Dr. Stephen Fine is presenting, Fostering Cosmopolitan Citizenship through Camp Experience: Comparative Research in North America and Central Asia, a paper co-authored with Tulshig Tuvshin of the Mongolian Camping Association.

Dr. Stephen Fine is Co-Director of the Hollows Camp, Cookstown, Ontario. Tulshig Tuvshin is Director General of the International Children’s Centre, Nairamdal, Mongolia, the largest camp in the country established in 1978.

The collaboration between Stephen and Tulshig began through the International Camping Fellowship and a meeting at the American Camp Association’s 2006 Conference in Chicago. Subsequent meetings resulted in Stephen hosting Tulshig at his southern Ontario camp and Tulshig inviting Stephen to visit camps in Mongolia. Early in 2007, Stephen and his wife traveled to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia via Seoul, Korea. After presenting a keynote address at a conference, Perspectives of Children’s Camp Development, hosted by the Mongolian Camping Association, Stephen visited five camps in north-eastern Mongolia. With an ancient nomadic culture and close ties to Russia, where camps are prevalent, Mongolia has approximately sixty children’s camps in a country with a population of 2.9 million people.

The research data was collected in both countries through dialogue with camp directors and Likert-scale surveys (the most widely used scale in questionnaires and surveys in which respondents are asked to state their level of agreement) with open-ended questions for current campers and camper/staff alumni.

The results in both Canada and Mongolia confirmed that “camps are optimal learning environments that transcend national and/or cultural boundaries and can effectively prepare youth for successful community interaction at local and global levels…Camp experience increased self-regulation, self-confidence, independence and recognition of strengths, weaknesses and potentials. Habits of personal hygiene and action towards a fit and healthy lifestyle were established…participants improved communication skills, accepted others regardless of ethnicity or social standing, realized the value and practicality of teamwork, and improved skills in group planning and organization. Learning…included a broader knowledge for sustaining clean air and water locally and globally, the value for contact with nature and a commitment toward environmental responsibility.”

The study concludes, “Perhaps in order to assure the development of cosmopolitan citizens, camp experience should become mandated as a compulsory component of education internationally…Camp offers opportunities for the positive development of youth regardless of cultural background and can assist them to take an active role globally as well as in their local communities.”

– Catherine Ross, CCA/ACC Communications