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Engaging Youth in Environmental Sustainability: Impact of the Camp 2 Grow Program
Laurie P. Browne, Barry A. Garst, M. Deborah Bialeschki
Engaging youth in organized efforts to promote environmental sustainability has important implications for young people as well as for the communities in which they live. Youth engagement in general is critical to positive youth development (Gambone et al., 2004) and summer camps are uniquely situated to engage youth in the issues related to environmental sustainability. Training youth to become environmental stewards, defined here as environmentally conscious leaders who promote environmental sustainability in others, is a promising approach to engaging youth in this critical issue. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of Camp 2 Grow, a program designed to foster environmental stewardship among summer camp participants. Results of this study indicated that time spent at a nature-based camp that includes the Camp 2 Grow program effectively fosters many of the facets that contribute to environmental stewardship. Specifically, Camp 2 Grow participants demonstrated gains in independence, problem solving, affinity for nature, and empowerment. Professionals seeking to design effective developmental experiences for youth, especially experiences that promote environmental stewardship, will gain insight into incorporating curricula such as Camp 2 Grow in youth programs. These findings depict one way program managers might promote the skills necessary for youth to engage in environmental sustainability efforts in their home communities.
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