National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

"Growing Without Limitations:" Transformation Among Young Adult Camp Staff

Garst, B. A.,
Franz, N. K.,
Baughman, S.,
Smith, C.,
Peters, B.
Year Published: 2009
Journal Article
National Association of Extension 4-H Agents
Journal of Youth Development, Bridging Research and Practice, 4(1); 23-36: Spring 2009; Article 090401FA002
American Camp Association

A strong body of research has developed over the last decade regarding the developmental outcomes of camp experiences of children and adolescents. However, few formal studies have been conducted to determine how camp experiences lead to deep personal change in young adult staff. In this study, the authors used focus groups and an online survey to explore transformation among young adult camp staff. Specifically, they examined (a) how camp involvement promotes transformation in young adults, and (b) what conditions in the camp environment promote personal change. Staff reported that personal change at camp was related to the developmental outcomes they experienced around the dimensions of identity, skills development, and trust-based relationships that led to significant impacts on maturity, responsibility, and independence. Other factors were being exposed to and accepting a camp culture and a group identity, and developing supportive relationships with peers, supervisors, and campers that provided safety, belonging, membership, and self-validation.

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