Considering the Importance of Attachment in Outcomes: The Case of Summer Camp




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.


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