North Carolina is well-known for its first-rate summer camps in America. For generations, beautiful settings, ideal temperatures, and unspoiled terrain have contributed to the area’s popularity as a destination for summer campers from all over the world. Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that children who attend high-quality summer camp programs build knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to be competitive in the modern day workforce. A new study completed in January 2016 by Clemson University researchers and commissioned by the North Carolina Youth Camp Association, assessed parent perspectives on the developmental benefits of youth camp experiences.
According to the study, an overwhelming majority of parents (91%) associated camp involvement with school success, and this association was reflected in how camp prepares youth for life transitions, how camp reinforces life lessons learned at home, and how camp prepares youth for independent living.
Dr. Barry Garst, lead researcher on the project, stated that, “parents specifically reported increases in developmental outcomes like resilience, cooperation, communication, critical thinking, and decision making skills closely mapped to ‘21st Century Skills’ that employers have identified as important for future workforce success.”
“When parents initially consider sending their children to camp, they think about swimming, hiking and songs around the camp fire,” stated Denice Dunn, board chair for the North Carolina Youth Camp Association. “But camp programs have very much evolved in the past decade. We focus on taking that outdoor experience and developing a child’s social, ethical, emotional, and physical skills.”
The study was completed by Dr. Barry A. Garst and Ryan J. Gagnon, M.A. from the Youth Development Leadership program in the Department of Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University and was commissioned by the North Carolina Youth Camp Association. The purposes of this parent study were to assess parent perspectives on the developmental benefits of camp experiences for youth who attend NCYCA camps, and to better understand parental attitudes toward year-round school to provide information to guide camp marketing, advocacy, and overall promotion of the camp experience.
A sample of 3,054 parents, representing nineteen NCYCA camps, completed an online survey following their child’s camp experience during the summer of 2015. Data were analyzed using standard statistical practices and procedures in the social sciences.
The North Carolina Youth Camp Association is a trade association formed by North Carolina summer camps to expand public understanding of youth camps and to represent their interests with local, state and federal policymakers. The Association seeks to strengthen and expand the educational, environmental and recreational opportunities provided by North Carolina’s camps.
View the whole report here 2016NCYCAParentPerceptionStudy