The Fundamental Characteristics and Unique Outcomes of Christian Summer Camp Experiences


  • Jacob Sorenson Sacred Playgrounds



camp research, religious camps, Christianity, mixed-methods research


Very little research is available on the unique characteristics and outcomes of Christian summer camps, in spite of their prevalence in the industry. The Effective Camp Research Project is a mixed-methods study seeking to close the research gap. This article presents the major findings of the study, detailing the emergence of a distinct Christian camp model with five fundamental characteristics: relational, safe space, participatory, unplugged from home, and faith-centered. A multi-test survey of campers provides compelling evidence for outcomes that are immediate, subsequent, and lasting. Some of these outcomes are common to all camp types, though many are unique to the contextual realities of Christian camps that effectively partner with the ministries of churches and homes. Camper outcomes identified in other studies are interpreted theologically in the context of Christian camps, providing particular relevance to faith communities and people of faith.

Author Biography

Jacob Sorenson, Sacred Playgrounds

Jacob Sorenson is director of Sacred Playgrounds, a ministry providing research and training to camps and congregations. He directs the Effective Camp Research Project and is involved in several other research projects. He has a PhD from Luther Seminary and more than fifteen years of experience as a youth minister and camp minister.


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