Facilitating Positive Youth Development through Residential Camp: Exploring Perceived Characteristics of Effective Camp Counsellors and Strategies for Youth Engagement

Halsall, Tanya; Kendellen, Kelsey; Bean, Corliss N.; Forneris, Tanya
December 2016
Journal of Park & Recreation Administration;Winter2016, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p20
Academic Journal
Previous research has demonstrated that participation in a residential camp can lead to positive outcomes such as the development of a sense of identity, increased responsibility, enhanced selfesteem, and improved social skills. Despite these promising findings, there is minimal research that examines the specific processes that lead to these positive outcomes. Researchers have identified that leader characteristics and youth engagement play an important role in influencing outcomes within positive youth development programs. The purpose ofthis study was to explore perceived camp counsellor characteristics and strategies for youth engagement that are believed to facilitate positive youth development within the residential camp setting. This study applied a qualitative exploratory approach to collect data from residential camp counsellors. The research took place at a Canadian residential summer camp that serves children and youth between the ages of 8 and 16 primarily from low-income families. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with camp counsellors and a thematic analysis was used to identify themes. The results outline two main themes: perceived characteristics of an effective camp counsellor and youth engagement strategies. Within the first theme related to characteristics of being an effective counsellor, four subthemes emerged, including (a) being understanding and compassionate, (b) ability to maintain equanimity, (c) having a sense of humour, and (d) being a positive role model. Within the second theme related to strategies for youth engagement, there were four themes, including (a) individualizing the activities, (b) facilitating initial engagement by making it fun, (c) creating an autonomy-supportive environment, and (d) providing leadership opportunities. Findings are discussed in relation to current research and recommendations are provided regarding how to utilize these findings in an applied context. These include recommendations related to (a) the utilization of recruitment and training approaches that aim to identify necessary staff characteristics in new recruits and promote these characteristics with new camp counsellors, (b) the provision of programs and services that support stress management for staff while working in the camp context, and (c) the development of capacity building opportunities for staff that includes evidence-based training on how to engage youth and highlights best practices for initially engaging youth as well as how to maintain engagement over time.


Related Articles

  • Helping Italy's At-Risk Youth. MALETTA, EMILY // Italian America;Spring2014, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p4 

    The article reports that a self-government approach is being followed in Italy for youth to become productive and have jobs, which is being funded by the association Boys' and Girls' Towns of Italy (BGTI).

  • Large as Land. Guignard, Lilace Mellin // Quarterly West;Spring/Summer2003, Issue 56, p40 

    Presents the author's memories of an experience she had while camping. Fear of potential attack; Desire to experience outdoors and freedom of movement without being contstrained by fear.

  • A Peace Breakthrough? Egyptians and Israelis consider a draft treaty.  // Time; 

    The article offers information on two issues regarding the Israeli-Egyptian relation. It mentions the laying out of a peace treaty between the Israeli and Egyptian negotiators at Blair House in Washington, D.C. to realize the Camp David accords. It states that the said treaty, which had been...

  • Ethical Lessons Learned from Conducting Refugee-Based Research in an Indian Refugee Camp. GEORGE, MIRIAM // Journal of Human Rights Practice;Nov2015, Vol. 7 Issue 3, p451 

    A growing number of academic researchers from developed countries are conducting refugee-based research in developing countries. Despite gaining theoretical knowledge in the classroom, early career researchers are inexperienced in the application of knowledge to fieldwork, especially in an...

  • Coping with stress. Jordan, Debra J. // Camping Magazine;Mar/Apr95, Vol. 67 Issue 4, p15 

    Focuses on coping with stress. Importance of stress to overall health; Effectiveness of exercise on stress; Implications for campers.

  • Do You Know What Your Outcomes Are? Arnold, Mary Olszewski; Bourdeau, Virginia D.; Nagele, Janet // Camping Magazine;Sep/Oct2005, Vol. 78 Issue 5, p1 

    Provides information on a research that examined the impact of Oregon 4-H residential camp programs on positive youth development. Interrelated attributes comprising the camp; Important aspects of conducting program evaluations at multiple sites; Results of the research.

  • "No Change".  // Time;10/19/1981, Vol. 118 Issue 16, p34 

    The article details an interview with Hosni Mubarak, president-designate in Egypt. Mubarak claims that he will continue the peace process policy of President Anwar Sadat through advancing Camp David Agreements with autonomy talks. It also notes Mubarak's position on the country's relations with...

  • Sovereignty on Borrowed Territory. Farah, Randa // Georgetown Journal of International Affairs;Summer/Fall2010, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p59 

    The article discusses the struggle of the Sahrawi people in refugee camps in the Algerian territory for national independence. It offers brief historical overview of the Western Sahara conflict which affects the lives of Sahrawis. It further explores the different factors which help these people...

  • A paradigm of autonomy: The Hong Kong and Macau SARs. Goncalves, Arnaldo // Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International & Strate;Jun96, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p36 

    Presents information on a model of autonomy in Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions (SARs) with reference to China's political and constitutional system. Discussion on the increase of regional autonomy; Indepth look at the People's Republic of China; Details on several examples of...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics