Special Issue: Perspectives on the Value of the Camp Experience


  • M. Deborah Bialeschki American Camp Association
  • Laurie P. Browne American Camp Association




camp research, out-of-school-time learning, youth development, outcomes, nature-based programs


This special issue brings attention to a broad range of current research that explored the varied contributions of the camp experience to positive youth development. The camp experience described in these articles included many types of programs (e.g., nature-based, sports, arts), duration (e.g., day/overnight, multi-day/multi-week), settings (e.g., wilderness, public and private natural areas), and audiences (e.g., urban/rural, children with medical needs, low income). The articles addressed topics such as 21st century skill development through camp, developmental outcomes related to career/college readiness and life success for campers and staff, developmental values of camp for specialized audiences such as medically-oriented campers, leadership development in young staff, relationship of quality programming to youth development, and relationships between nature-based experiences and youth development. All of the articles offer practical implications and applications for practice as well as contribute to theory and the body of knowledge. As with all good research, this special issue leaves the reader with new information but also identifies relevant questions for future research and evaluation.

Author Biography

M. Deborah Bialeschki, American Camp Association

Director of Research, American Camp Association

Professor Emeritus, UNC-Chapel Hill


Dimock, H.S., & Hendry, C.E. (1929). Camping and character: A camp experiment in character education. New York, NY: Association Press.