Camp Counselor as a Role Model for Social-Emotional Learning Skills in Camp




Social-emotional learning, role modeling, camper-counselor relationships


Camp programs hire counselors to fulfill multiple responsibilities and to role model positive behaviors for campers. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is a skill set that develops over time and through engagement with an array of individuals and opportunities that support social and emotional health across the lifespan. The social design of an overnight summer camp may be an ideal setting for nurturing SEL through camper-counselor relationships. The purpose of this study was to explore how counselors understood and modeled SEL with their campers and to what extent the campers recognized and interpreted those behaviors. Evidence suggests that counselors intended to role model SEL; however, they were inconsistent in how they modeled SEL during interactions with campers. Counselors’ own SEL may need more explicit support and training to more effectively role model SEL for campers.

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Author Biographies

Megan H. Owens, Western Illinois University

Assistant Professor

Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

Laurie P. Browne, American Camp Association

Director of Research


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