Summer Camp Youth Leadership Development: An Investigation of Adolescents’ Perceptions of Best Practices


  • Katlyn Martin McGill University; Indiana University



youth development, leadership, camp


This qualitative study explored adolescent participants’ perceptions of the Leaders-in-Training (LIT) program at Waycross Camp, a residential summer camp. The main data set was collected through interviews with former LIT program participants. A constant comparison data analysis of LIT program feedback revealed four emergent themes: (a) bridging the gap, (b) giving permission to be human, (c) rolling up your sleeves, and (d) serving the greater good. Each theme yielded an outcome, including (a) community, (b) openness, (c) empowerment, and (d) character, respectively. Concepts depicted in relevant literature were synthesized with these four themes and outcomes, yielding (a) social relationships; (b) identity and self-image; (c) agency and engagement; and (d) spirituality, ethicality, and morality, respectively. Together, these themes, outcomes, and concepts were integrated to produce a camp-based model of youth leadership development that reflected participant feedback on the LIT program’s best practices. Implications for future practice are discussed.


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