The Camp Setting for Promoting Youth Physical Activity: Systematic Observations of Summer Day Camps


  • Nicole Zarrett University of South Carolina
  • Brittany Skiles University of South Carolina
  • Carl Sorensen University of South Carolina



The risk for youth obesity is higher during the summer than any other time of year. Summer day camps can be ideal settings for preventing obesity through reducing youth summer sedentary behaviors. However, little-to-no research has examined the role of camps for promoting youth physical activity (PA) and other healthy behaviors. This study begins to address the gap in research by conducting systematic observations of 4 summer day camps (2 highly- resourced and 2 low-resourced) to determine: 1) the degree to which camps engage youth in moderate-to-vigorous PA, and; 2) to what extent camps provide important physical and social-motivational features for promoting PA. Results indicate camps provide opportunities for youth to meet national recommendations of daily MVPA. However, there were differences in PA and motivational features by level of camp resources. This study helps inform practice and policy through identifying strengths and needs of camps for promoting PA.






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