Camp and College Parallels: Crucibles for Transition-Linked Turning-Points


  • Lisa K.-P. Olsen Clemson University
  • Gwynn M. Powell Clemson University
  • Barry A. Garst Clemson University
  • Robert D. Bixler Clemson University



physical setting, camp, college, turning-points, transitions


This conceptual paper explores how the system of experiences that children encounter in a traditional, residential summer camp setting parallel traditional, residential, college setting for first-year students. Camp is a complex system in the sphere of youth development programs (YDP) because of the expectation for rapid adjustment by the camper to a novel physical and social environment. Many YDPs have a moderate to high level of connection with the child’s normal life, defined as similar to school or home environments and the activities in which youth regularly participate. A traditional residential summer camp offers a different degree of novelty than most other YDP settings. This paper offers a list of physical elements present in a camp setting that parallel the college setting and considers common camp-college parallels to articulate connected physical, social, emotional, and intellectual domains. This integration of ideas illustrates how the socio-physical novelty of the camp experience serves as a crucible for rapid adjustment and multi-dimensional growth in a way that is uniquely different from many other youth development settings.


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