As a non-profit charity, it is our aim to create accessible environments and opportunities for those we serve. We believe in the transformative power of well-designed and well-facilitated programs. It is our aim to combine adventure-based programming and experiential education principles to create memorable experiences with a lasting impact.
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The Proof is in the Paddling
“Oh, you work at a camp? I remember going to camp as a kid and this one time we . . .”
Many conversations begin this way and I suddenly become an audience for the nostalgic story laced with meaning. These conversations run even deeper with an eager excitement to share when two or more staff from camps swap stories. Poignant details and laughter bounce around the conversation like the ball in a heated game of foursquare. As a staff or camper, it seems as though time spent at camp sticks with us in a lasting way - long after our weeks spent swimming, climbing, and circled around campfires.
While the reasons for these lasting impressions are difficult to put into words, a new study has brought us closer to understanding why time at camp is time well spent. The Summer Camp Research Project, funded by the University of Waterloo and the Canadian Camping Association, looked at changing attitudes, behaviours, and values in nearly 1300 Canadian campers during their time in a camp program. Through extensive interviews with camp directors, the project found five areas of development: social connections and integration, environmental awareness, attitudes towards physical activity, emotional intelligence, and personal development and self-confidence.
The results showed that over the course of their participation in camp, youth showed positive change in all five of these areas regardless of age, gender, and whether or not they had been to camp previously.
These positive findings are crucial in understanding how camp serves as an effective counterweight to many of the looming issues faced by today’s youth. The social connections experienced at camp are face-to-face – unfiltered by computers or cell phones. Through teaching and promoting environmentally friendly lifestyles, Canadian camps undoubtedly help prepare this generation for the environmental challenges created by those previous. Campers’ improved attitudes towards physical activity are a truly significant result amidst current concerns over obesity and inactive lifestyles. The positive changes in emotional intelligence indicate that many youth at camp find a unique setting that fosters maturation. The benefits of camp as a vehicle for personal development and self-confidence in youth are obvious.
As a camping professional I am grateful for this study because it confirms a suspicion that we in the field have always had – camp is the best. With this work, educators and parents are given positive insights on precisely why there is no place like camp.
For further details on this project: http://healthycommunities.uwaterloo.ca/camp/