Camper Self-Concept Promotes Environmental Awareness: A Relationship Mediated by Social Inclusion

Luc S. Cousineau, Steven E. Mock, Troy D. Glover


Summer camps in Canada provide services to hundreds of thousands of youth each year, giving opportunities for growth and development. However, summer camps in Canada remain understudied. Using one phase of data from the Canadian Summer Camps Research Project (CSCRP), analysis was conducted on the effect of camper self-concept on their environmental awareness, mediated by perceived level of social inclusion. A relationship between camper self-concept and environmental awareness existed, and that relationship was enhanced when campers were socially included. These findings show preliminary connections between self-concept and environmental awareness in summer camps, and open opportunities for further research into personal and long-term effects of camp participation on environmental viewpoints, social group integration, and self-concept.


camp; environment; personal development; social inclusion; self-concept

Full Text:



American Camp Association. (2015). ACA facts and trends. Retrieved from

Arnold, S., & Tigert, D. (1974). Canadians and Americans: A comparative analysis. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 15(1-2), 68-83.

Baer, D., Grabb, E., & Johnson, W. (1990). The values of Canadians and Americans: A critical analysis and reassessment. Social Forces, 68(3), 693-713.

Baer, D., Grabb, E., & Johnson, W. (1993). National character, regional culture, and the values of Canadians and Americans. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne de Sociologie, 30(1), 13-36.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191

Bell, P. A., Greene, T. C., Fisher, J. D., & Baum, A. S. (2001). Environmental Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bialeschki, M. D., Henderson, K. A., & James, P. A. (2007). Camp experiences and developmental outcomes for youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 16(4), 769-788.

Brookman, L., Boettcher, M., Klein, E., Openden, D., Koegel, R. L., & Koegel, L. K. (2003). Facilitating social interactions in a community summer camp setting for children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 5(4), 249-252.

Brown, B. B., & Lohr, M. J. (1987). Peer-group affiliation and adolescent self-esteem: An integration of ego-identity and symbolic-interaction theories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(1), 47-55. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.52.1.47

Carruthers, A. L. (2013). Emotional and social developmental benefits of summer camp for children: Examining the relationship between social capital and emotional intelligence. (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON. Available at

Cast, A. D., & Burke, P. J. (2002). A theory of self-esteem. Social Forces, 80(3), 1041-1068. doi:10.1353/sof.2002.0003

Dresner, M., & Gill, M. (1994). Environmental education at summer nature camp. The Journal of Environmental Education, 25(3), 35-41.

Eagles, P. F. J., & Demare, R. (1999). Factors influencing children's environmental attitudes. The Journal of Environmental Education, 30(4), 33-37. doi:10.1080/00958969909601882

Ellis, W. E., & Zarbatany, L. (2007). Peer group status as a moderator of group influence on children’s deviant, aggressive, and prosocial behavior. Child Development, 78(4), 1240-1254. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01063.x

Ewert, A. W. (1983). Outdoor adventure and self-concept: A research analysis. Eugene: University of Oregon

Ewert, A. (1987). Research in outdoor adventure: Overview and analysis. Bradford Papers Annual, 2, 15-28.

Fine, S. (2005). Contextual learning within the residential outdoor experience: a case study of a summer camp community in Ontario. (Unpublished PhD Dissertation). University of Toronto. Toronto, ON. Retrieved from

Garst, B. A., Browne, L. P., & Bialeschki, M. D. (2011). Youth development and the camp experience. New Directions for Youth Development, 2011(130), 73-87. 10.1002/yd.398

Gillett, D. P., Thomas, G. P., Skok, R. L., & McLaughlin, T. (1991). The effects of wilderness camping and hiking on the self-concept and the environmental attitudes and knowledge of twelfth graders. The Journal of Environmental Education, 22(3), 34-44.

Glover, T. D., Chapeskie, A., Mock, S., Mannel, R., & Feldberg, H. (2011). The Canadian summer camp research project: examining the outcomes of the Canadian summer camp experience. Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo. Retrieved from

Glover, T. D., Graham, T., Mock, S., Mannel, R., Carruthers, A. L., & Chapeskie, A. (2013). Canadian Summer Camp Research Project - phase 3: Parent perception of changes in children after returning home from camp. Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo. Retrieved from

Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408-420. doi: 10.1080/03637750903310360

Hazelworth, M. S., & Wilson, B. E. (1990). The effects of an outdoor adventure camp experience on self-concept. The Journal of Environmental Education, 21(4), 33-37.

Henderson, B., & Potter, T. G. (2001). Outdoor adventure education in Canada: Seeking the country way back in. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 6(1), 225-242.

Henderson, K. A., Bialeschki, M. D., Scanlin, M. M., Thurber, C., Whitaker, L. S., & Marsh, P. E. (2007). Components of camp experiences for positive youth development. Journal of Youth Development, 1(3), 1-12.

Henderson, K. A., Whitaker, L., Bialeschki, M. D., Scanlin, M., & Thurber, C. (2007). Summer camp experiences: Parental perceptions of youth development outcomes. Journal of Family Issues, 28(8), 987-1007. doi: 10.1177/0192513X07301428

Holden, G., Moncher, M. S., Schinke, S. P., & Barker, K. M. (1990). Self-efficacy of children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Psychological Reports, 66(3), 1044-1046. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1990.66.3.1044

Kruse, C. K., & Card, J. A. (2004). Effects of a conservation education camp program on campers' self-reported knowledge, attitude, and behavior. The Journal of Environmental Education, 35(4), 33-45. doi: 10.3200/JOEE.35.4.33-45

Kwon, K., & Lease, A. (2009). Children’s social identification with a friendship group: A moderating effect on intent to conform to norms. Small Group Research, 40(6), 694-719. doi: 10.1177/1046496409346578

Larson, B. A. (2007). Adventure camp programs, self-concept, and their effects on behavioral problem adolescents. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(3), 313-330.

Lichti, R. (2014). Examining Gender and Age as Predictors of Personal Development in a Summer Camp Setting as Mediated by Social Capital and Social Support . (Unpublished masters thesis). University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.

Macnaghten, P., & Urry, J. (1998). Contested Natures. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Mecke, T., & Hutchison, P. (2005, May). A qualitative study of the inclusion process at a residential summer camp [Abstract]. Abstracts of Papers Presented at the Eleventh Canadian Congress on Leisure Research, Nanaimo, BC.

Michalski, J. H., Mishna, F., Worthington, C., & Cummings, R. (2003). A multi-method impact evaluation of a therapeutic summer camp program. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 20(1), 53-76.

Nicholas, D. B., Williams, M., & MacLusky, I. B. (2009). Evaluating group work within a summer camp intervention for children and adolescents with asthma. Social Work with Groups, 32(3), 209-221.

Ontario Camps Association. (2014). What OCA offers. Retrieved from

Paris, L. (2008). Children's nature: The rise of the American summer camp. New York: NYU Press.

Porter, T. (2006). Coevolution as a research framework for organizations and the natural environment. Organization & Environment, 19(4), 479-504. doi: 10.1177/1086026606294958

Propst, D. B., & Koesler, R. A. (1998). Bandura goes outdoors: Role of self-efficacy in the outdoor leadership development process. Leisure Sciences, 20(4), 319-344.

Quinlan, N. P., Kolotkin, R. L., Fuemmeler, B. F., & Costanzo, P. R. (2009). Psychosocial outcomes in a weight loss camp for overweight youth. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, 4(3), 134-142.

Salmivalli, C., & Voeten, M. (2004). Connections between attitudes, group norms, and behaviour in bullying situations. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 28(3), 246-258. doi: 10.1080/01650250344000488

Smith, M. B. (2006). ‘The ego ideal of the good camper’ and the nature of summer camp. Environmental History, 11(1), 70-101. Retrieved from

Thurber, C., & Malinowski, J. (1999). Summer camp as a therapeutic landscape. In A. Williams (Ed.), Therapeutic landscapes: The dynamic between place and wellness (pp. 53-70). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Thurber, C., Scanlin, M. M., Scheuler, L., & Henderson, K. A. (2007). Youth development outcomes of the camp experience: Evidence for multidimensional growth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(3), 241-254. 10.1007/s10964-006-9142-6

van Jaarsveld, A. S. (1996). Towards a co-evolutionary framework for implementing sustainable development. International Journal for Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 3, 15-37.

Wall, S. (2005). Totem poles, teepees, and token traditions: ‘Playing Indian’ at Ontario summer camps, 1920–1955. The Canadian Historical Review, 86(3), 513-544.

Wu, A. D., & Zumbo, B. D. (2008). Understanding and using mediators and moderators. Social Indicators Research, 87(3), 367-392. 10.1007/s11205-007-9143-1



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Luc S. Cousineau

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.