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Examining Outdoor Education and It's Positive Effects on Students.

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1 Examining Outdoor Education and It's Positive Effects on Students

2 What Is Camp? A camp is a unique environment not found in other parts of society. Children (usually from age ) leave their homes to live in purposeful communities designed around their needs and growth. Camps differ from schools in that they are often residential, rustic, their education is almost completely experiential, and virtually the entire waking day is spent interacting with peers and trained adults. Daily routines vary, but generally every hour is planned, from waking up to falling asleep. (Randall Grayson Study)‏

3 Breaking Out of the Box: Self Esteem At summer camps, children are often taken out of their usual peer group and placed into a new one for one to eight weeks. Children generally tend to niche-pick and find like-minded others (Eckert, 1989; Rowe, Woulbroun, & Gulley, 1994), but at camp, that isn’t easy because groups are arbitrarily assigned. In decentralized camps (where groups mix very little), that is especially the case. The new camp peer group can create new norms, acceptable behaviors, attitudes, and purposes/goals. One qualitative study done at camp found that children often commented on how free and happy they felt to finally be themselves (Chenery, 1991), probably because of the accepting environment and the ability to reinvent themselves without the constraints of the former context and people. (Randall Grayson Study)‏ Krieger (1970) examined 110 campers aged who attended the J Bar Double C Ranch in Colorado for four weeks. Of those children, 46 were male and 64 were female. The investigation also involved comparisons to a control group of 71 children who did not attend the camp. Measures of self-esteem and a counselor rating of behavior problems were taken on the first and last days of camp. The results indicated that self esteem did improve (a mean improvement of 2.76 points, significant at p<.01 for campers, and a non-significant mean change of.43 for controls on a scale). (Randall Grayson)‏ [Another] study (Grayson, 1998) assessed the self-esteem of 59 children (age ) at a coed camp two weeks before camp, two weeks after the three-week camp session, and six months after. The results indicated that a rational emotive approach to behavior problems, a non-competitive environment, control of personal activities, having a say in camp processes, and an opportunity to succeed in a number of activities were all related to a lasting increase in self-esteem. The results are especially noteworthy because they are independent of the camp context (because measurements took place outside of the camp environment). (Randall Grayson)‏ On average, children reported a statistically significant increase in self-esteem by the end of camp compared to before camp (92% of students agreed that people at camp helped them feel better about themselves). (Philliber Research Associates)‏

4 Strengthening Social Skills Barnett (1987) reviewed research that attempted to draw connections between aspects of children’s environments and the development of empathy. The conclusions were three-fold. First, the environment should satisfy the child’s own emotional needs, but not encourage excessive self- concern. Second, the child needs to be encouraged to identify, experience, and express a wide range of emotions. Third, a good environment gives the child frequent opportunities to observe other people’s emotional responsiveness (modeling). The long-term, intense, caring camp environment with trained counselors is well positioned to meet these three criteria. (Randall Grayson)‏ On average, both campers and parents reported statistically significant increases in leadership from pre-camp to post-camp. Six months after camp, both campers and parents reported additional growth leadership, compared to post-camp levels. (Philliber Research Associates)‏ There was a statistically significant increase in peer relations six months after camp. (Philliber Research Associates)‏

5 Academic Improvement The children’s grades improved from 4 weeks before camp to 12 weeks afterwards. On average, the children moved from the equivalent of a C+ to a B-. Given that the control group did not change and the short nature of the time span, this change is noteworthy. (Randall Grayson)‏ Camps also offer youth the best chance to experience challenging, engaging learning experiences. In camps, almost half (about 40%) of all youth had optimal levels of skill building experiences, compared to half that number (20%) in community-based youth organizations and numbers as low as 1% in some secondary schools studied by YDSI. (Youth Developmental Services)‏ Academic Improvement

6 Day vs. Residential Camp The one factor that seemed to play an important role in the likelihood of youth having optimal or insufficient experiences— across all four domains of supports and opportunities—was whether they attended a day or resident camp. In all cases, residential campers had some advantages over day campers, regardless of length of time at camp, number of years coming to camp, or characteristics of the youth themselves, such as age. These factors were all controlled in the analyses. This finding suggests a fundamental difference between these two experiences. Whereas residential campers are immersed in an intentional community day and night, day campers experience a partial immersion. Perhaps this distinction accounts for some differences observed in this study. Maybe residential campers’ cognitive and emotional investment in their camp experience is distinct from that of day campers’. Perhaps, too, the content of the activities offered or how time is structured in day compared to resident camps made a difference. Further study of resident camps’ unique features may reveal key practices that any camp could adapt to their setting in order to provide more of their campers with high quality developmental experiences. (Youth Developmental Services)‏

7 Importance of Nature-Based Experiences Children are plugged into some kind of electric medium for an average of 5.5 hours a day. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005)‏ Over the last 20 years, children have lost 12 hours of free time a week; 8 of those lost hours were once spent in unstructured play and outdoor activities. (David Elkind, The Power of Play, 2007)‏ Nature-based outdoor activities reduce ADHD symptoms, lower stress levels and improve mood in children. (Richard Louv, Last Child In the Woods, 2006)‏

8 Studies/Books Used Summer Camp As An Intervention For At-Risk Youth By Randall C. Grayson (Claremont, California, 2001)‏ Directions: Youth Development Outcomes of the Camp Experience by Philliber Research Associates (Martinsville, Indiana, 2004)‏ Inspirations: Developmental Supports and Opportunities of Youths' Experiences at Camp by Youth Development Services (Martinsville, Indiana, 2006)‏ Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds by Kaiser Family Foundation (Menlo Park, California, 2005)‏ David Elkind, The Power of Play, 2007 Richard Louv, Last Child In the Woods, 2006


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