Considering the Importance of Attachment in Outcomes: The Case of Summer Camp
Keywords:positive youth development, out-of-school-time, attachment theory, social development
Youth programs are consistently described as settings that offer youth developmental experiences. Summer camps are one example of youth programs with empirical evidence suggesting positive outcomes of participation; however, researchers seldom address how youth’s social development, such as attachment, may shape outcomes. By not accounting for differences in attachment, researchers may be missing reasons why youth programs, like summer camps, function as developmental settings that foster outcomes for some youth, but not for others. Using summer camp as an example youth program, the purpose of this paper is to consider the role of attachment in youth outcomes. This article reviews and integrates positive youth development, summer camp, and attachment literature to arrive at a conceptual argument for the importance of including attachment when studying summer camps. Suggestions for how researchers can enhance their efforts by accounting for how attachment may shape youth outcomes are also offered.
Abraham, M. M., & Kerns, K. A. (2013). Positive and negative emotions and coping a mediators of mother-child attachment and peer relationships. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 59(4), 399–425. https://doi.org/10.1353/mpq.2013.0023
Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M., Water, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment. Earlbaum.
Akiva, T. (2009). The camp program quality assessment (Camp PQA). David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. http://cypq.org/sites/cypq.org/files/Camp%20PQA%20Report%201.01.pdf
American Camp Association. (2013). Camp youth outcomes battery: measuring developmental outcomes in youth programs. (2nd ed.). https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/research/tools-measuring-youth-development-outcomes
Bean, C. N., Kendellen, K., & Froneris, T. (2016). Examining needs support and positive developmental experiences through youth’s leisure participation in a residential summer camp. Leisure/Loisir, 40(3), 271–295. https://doi.org/10.1080/14927713.2016.1252938
Bennett, T. (2018). Including the youth perspective: The development of the CPQA camper survey. Journal of Youth Development, 13(1–2), 266–285. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2018.559
Benson, P. L. (2003). Developmental assets and asset-building community: Conceptual and empirical foundations. In R. M. Lerner & P. L. Benson (Eds.), The Search Institute series on developmentally attentive community and society. Developmental assets and asset-building communities: Implications for research, policy, and practice (p. 19–43). Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4615-0091-9_2
Bialeschki, M. D., Henderson, K. A., & James, P. A. (2007). Camp experiences and developmental outcomes for youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 16(4), 769–788. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chc.2007.05.011
Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss. Basic Books.
Brennan, K., Clark, C., & Shaver, P. (1998). Self-report measurement of attachment: An integrative overview. In J. Simpson & W. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46–76). Guilford Press.
Browne, L. P., Jameson, M., Bialeschki, M. D. (2015). Engaging camp staff in continuous program improvement. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 33(1), 40–56.
Cassidy, J. (2016). The nature of the child’s ties. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical application (3rd ed., 3–24). Guilford Press.
Cohen, P., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Psychology Press.
Contreras, J. M., & Kerns, K. A. (2000) Emotion regulation processes: Explaining links between parent-child attachment and peer relationships. In K. A. Kerns, J. M. Contreras, & A. M. Neal-Barnett (Eds.), Family and peers: Linking two social worlds. Praeger.
David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. (2011). Program quality assessment handbook: Youth version. (Revised edition). High/Scope Press. http://www.cypq.org/sites/cypq.org/files/Youth_YPA_HandbookSample.pdf
Dimock, H. S., & Hendry C. E. (1929). Camping and character: A camp experiment in character education. Association Press.
Eccles, J., & Gootman, J. A. (Eds.). (2002). Community programs to promote youth development. National Academy Press.
Elicker, J., Englund, M., & Sroufe, L. A. (1992). Predicting peer competence and peer relationships in childhood from early parent-child relationships. In R. Parke & G. W. Ladd (Eds.), Family and peer relationships: Modes of linkage (pp. 77–106). Lawrence.
Flynn, R. M., Ricker, A. A., Dolezal, C., Kunin, M., & Mellins, C. A. (2019). Residential summer camp for youth with special needs: A longitudinal approach to investigating differences in social skills. Children and Youth Services Review, 96, 354–363. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.10.036
Gambone, M. A., Connell, J. P., Klem, A. M., Slipe, C. L., & Bridges, L. (2002). Finding out what matters for youth: Testing key links in a community action framework for youth development. Youth Development Strategies.
Garst, B. A., & Bruce, F. A. (2003). Identifying 4-H camping outcomes using a standardized evaluation process across multiple 4-H educational centers. Journal of Extension, 41(3), 1–7. https://archives.joe.org/joe/2003june/rb2.php
Garst, B. A., Browne, L. P., & Bialeschki, M. D. (2011). Youth development and the camp experience. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2011(130), 73–87. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.398
Garst, B. A., Gagnon, R. J., & Whittington, A. (2016). A closer look at the camp experience: Examining relationships between life skills, elements of positive youth development, and antecedents of change among camp alumni. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership, 8(2), 180–199. https://doi.org/10.18666/JOREL-2016-V8-I2-7694
Groh, A. M., Fearon, R. P., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van IJzendoorn, M. H., Steele, R. D., & Roisman, G. I. (2014). The significance of attachment security for children’s social competence with peers: A meta-analytic study. Attachment & Human Development, 16(2), 103–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2014.883636
Hamilton, C. E. (2000). Continuity and discontinuity of attachment from infancy through adolescence. Child Development, 71(3), 690–694. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00177
Henderson, K. A. (2018). Camp research: What? So what? What’s next?. Journal of Youth Development, 13(1–2), 316–326. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2018.607
Henderson, K. A., Bialeschki, M. D., Scanlin, M. M., Thurber, C., Whitaker, L. S., & Marsh, P. E. (2007). Components of camp experiences for positive youth development. Journal of Youth Development, 1(3). https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2007.371
Henderson, K. A., Thurber, C. A., Whitaker, L. S., Bialeschki, M. D., & Scanlin, M. M. (2006). Development and application of a camper growth index for youth. Journal of Experiential Education, 29(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/105382590602900103
Honsberger, N. (2014). Attachment style and development in the Canadian summer camp context: A quantitative analysis of direct and indirect associations using phase III CSCRP data. [unpublished master’s thesis]. University of Waterloo. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/8735
Kerns, K. A., Aspelmeier, J. E., Gentzler, A. L., & Grabill, C. M. (2001). Parent–child attachment and monitoring in middle childhood. Journal of Family Psychology, 15(1), 69–81. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-322.214.171.124
Kerns, K. A., Brumariu, L. E., & Abraham, M. M. (2008). Homesickness at summer camp: Associations with the mother–child relationship, social self-concept, and peer relationships in middle childhood. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 54(4), 473–498. https://doi.org/10.1353/mpq.0.0010
Klem, M. D., & Nicholson, D. J. (2008). Proven effectiveness of Missouri 4-H camps in developing life skills in youth. Journal of Youth Development, 2(3), 135–143. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2008.340
Larson, R. (2000). Towards a psychology of positive youth development. American Psychologist, 55, 170–183. https://doi.org/10.1037//0003-066x.55.1.170
Lerner, R. M., Almerigi, J. B., Theokas, C., & Lerner, J. V. (2005). Positive youth development: A view of the issues. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 25(1), 10–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272431604273211
Lerner, R. M., & Overton, W. F. (2008). Exemplifying the integrations of the relational developmental system: Synthesizing theory, research, and application to promote positive development and social justice. Journal of Adolescent Research, 23(3), 245–255. https://doi.org/10.1177/074355840834385
Main, M. (2000). The organized categories of infant, child, and adult attachment: Flexible vs. inflexible attention under attachment-related stress. Journal of American Psychoanalytic Association, 48, 1055–1096. https://doi.org/10.1177/00030651000480041801
Manly, J. T., Kim, J. E., Rogosch, F. A., Cicchetti, D. (2001). Dimension of child maltreatment and children’s adjustment: Contributions of developmental timing and subtype. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 759–782. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579401004023
Marvin, R. S., Britner, P. A., Russell, B. S. (2016). Normative development: The ontogeny of attachment in childhood. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical application (3rd ed., 273–290). Guilford Press.
Morgan, C., Sibthorp, J., & Browne, L. P. (2016). Moving beyond outcomes: An applied example of implementation evaluation in a youth recreation program. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 34(4), 66–81. https://doi.org/10.18666/JPRA-2016-V34-I4-7290
Nagaoka, J., Farrington, C. A., Ehrlich, S. B., Heath, R. D. (2015). Foundations for young adult success: A developmental framework. University of Chicago, Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Pallini, S., Baiocco, R., Schneider, B. H., & Madigan, S. (2014). Early child-parent attachment and peer relations: A meta-analysis of recent research. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(1), 118–123. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035736
Paris, L. (2008). Children's nature: The rise of the American summer camp (Vol. 5). NYU Press.
Povilaitis, V., & Tamminen, K. A. (2018). Delivering positive youth development at a residential summer sport camp. Journal of Adolescent Research, 33(4), 470–495. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558417702478
Richmond, D., Sibthorp, J., & Wilson, C. (2019). Understanding the role of summer camps in the learning landscape: An exploratory sequential study. Journal of Youth Development, 14(3), 9–30. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2019.780
Roisman, G. I., Holland, A., Fortuna, K., Fraley, C., Clausell, E., & Clarke, A. (2007). The adult attachment interview and self-reports of attachment style: An empirical rapprochement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(4), 678–697. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.1998
Schmueli-Goetz, Y., Target, M., Fonagy, P., & Datta, A. (2008). The child attachment interview: A psychometric study of reliability and discriminant validity. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 939–956. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.529
Seibert, A. C., & Kerns, K. A. (2009). Attachment figures in middle childhood. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 33(4), 347–355. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025409103872
Shulman, S., Elicker, J., & Sroufe, A. (1994). Stages of friendship growth in preadolescence as related to attachment history. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 11, 341–361. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407594113002
Sibthorp, J., Bialeschki, M. D., Morgan, C., & Browne, L. (2013). Validating, norming, and utility of a youth outcomes battery for recreation programs and camp. Journal of Leisure Research, 45(4), 514–536. https://doi.org/10.18666/jlr-2013-v45-i4-3897
Sibthorp, J., Wilson, C., Povilaitis, V., & Browne, L. (2020). Active ingredients of learning at summer camp. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 23, 21–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42322-019-00050-6
Smith, C., & Hohmann, C. (2005). Full findings from the youth program quality assessment validation study. High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. http://cypq.org/sites/cypq.org/files/publications/YPQA%20Full%20Findings%20Val%20Study%2005.pdf
Sroufe, L. A. (2005). Attachment and development: A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood. Attachment & Human Development, 7(4), 349–367. https://doi.org/10.1080/1416730500365928
Sroufe, L., Egeland, B., Carlson, E., & Collins, A. (2005). The development of the person: The Minnesota study of risk and adaption. Guilford Press.
Thompson, R. A. (2016). Early attachment and later development: Reframing the questions. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.) Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 330–348). Guilford Press.
Thurber, C. A., Scanlin, M. M., Scheuler, L., & Henderson, K. A. (2007). Youth development outcomes of the camp experience: Evidence for multidimensional growth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36(3), 241–254. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-006-9142-6
Walker, E. (2021). Hello muddah, hello faddah, get me ouddah here: The role of attachment in developmental outcomes at summer camp. [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Waterloo.
Warner, R. P., Sibthorp, J., Wilson, C., Browne, L. P., Barnett, S., Gillard, A., & Sorenson, J. (2021). Similarities and differences in summer camps: A mixed methods study of lasting outcomes and program elements. Children and Youth Services Review, 120, Article number 105779. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105779
Weinfield, N. S., Ogawa, J. R., & Sroufe, L. A. (1997). Early attachment as a pathway to adolescent peer competence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 7, 241–265. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327795jra0703_1
Wilson, C., Akiva, T., Sibthorp, J., & Browne, L. (2019). Fostering distinct and transferable learning via summer camp. Children and Youth Services Review, 98, 269–277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.01.017
Wozencroft, A. J., Scott, J. L., Waller, S. N., & Parsons, M. D. (2019). Positive youth development for youth with disabilities in a therapeutic camp setting. Journal of Youth Development, 14(1), 182–197. https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2019.634
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- The Author retains copyright in the Work, where the term “Work” shall include all digital objects that may result in subsequent electronic publication or distribution.
- Upon acceptance of the Work, the author shall grant to the Publisher the right of first publication of the Work.
- The Author shall grant to the Publisher and its agents the nonexclusive perpetual right and license to publish, archive, and make accessible the Work in whole or in part in all forms of media now or hereafter known under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License or its equivalent, which, for the avoidance of doubt, allows others to copy, distribute, and transmit the Work under the following conditions:
- Attribution—other users must attribute the Work in the manner specified by the author as indicated on the journal Web site;
- The Author is able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the nonexclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the Work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), as long as there is provided in the document an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post online a prepublication manuscript (but not the Publisher’s final formatted PDF version of the Work) in institutional repositories or on their Websites prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. Any such posting made before acceptance and publication of the Work shall be updated upon publication to include a reference to the Publisher-assigned DOI (Digital Object Identifier) and a link to the online abstract for the final published Work in the Journal.
- Upon Publisher’s request, the Author agrees to furnish promptly to Publisher, at the Author’s own expense, written evidence of the permissions, licenses, and consents for use of third-party material included within the Work, except as determined by Publisher to be covered by the principles of Fair Use.
- The Author represents and warrants that:
- the Work is the Author’s original work;
- the Author has not transferred, and will not transfer, exclusive rights in the Work to any third party;
- the Work is not pending review or under consideration by another publisher;
- the Work has not previously been published;
- the Work contains no misrepresentation or infringement of the Work or property of other authors or third parties; and
- the Work contains no libel, invasion of privacy, or other unlawful matter.
- The Author agrees to indemnify and hold Publisher harmless from Author’s breach of the representations and warranties contained in Paragraph 6 above, as well as any claim or proceeding relating to Publisher’s use and publication of any content contained in the Work, including third-party content.
Revised 7/16/2018. Revision Description: Removed outdated link.