Recognizing MESH as a Component of a Camp’s Health Profile




healthy camps, mental, emotional and social health, camp health profiles


The American Camp Association and Association of Camp Nursing collaborated for the creation of the Healthy Camps initiatives from 2006-2020. During that time, the initiative developed a holistic approach to a healthy camp framework by examining and addressing a range of challenges experienced by camp programs in the United States. Camper and staff mental, emotional, and social health (MESH) became an important focus, as camp professionals grew increasingly concerned with the behaviors and challenges exhibited by campers and staff during their programs. The purpose of this article is to share the extensive work and resources developed by the Healthy Camps initiatives to help camp professionals address the mental, emotional and social health needs of their campers and staff.

Dr. Owens talks about this article:

Subscribe to JOREL

Author Biographies

Megan H. Owens, Western Illinois University

Assistant Professor

Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

Linda E. Erceg, Association of Camp Nursing


Associate Director Emeritus, Concordia Language Villages

Association of Camp Nursing, Life Member

Alli Faricy, Camp Foley



American Camp Association (2011). The Healthy Camp Study Impact Report: 2006-2010.

American Camp Association (2019). American Camp Association Accreditation Process Guide.

American Camp Association (2020a). 5-yr camp impact study. American Camp Association,

American Camp Association (2020b). Healthy Camp Toolbox. American Camp Association.

Association of Camp Nursing (2020, April 21). Homepage. Association of Camp Nursing.

Belakovich, K., Brosnan, K., Browne, L.P., Ellett, M., Foreman, L, Freridge, K., Katzenberger, A., Pinney, D., & Winkel, K. (2019). The Campline. American Camp Association.

Dubin, A., Garst, B. A., Gaslin, T. C., & Schultz, B. E. (2020). Workplace fatigue within summer camp: Perspectives from camp health care providers and directors. Journal of Experiential Education, 43(1), 71–87.

Erceg, L. E. (2019). Healthy Camp People 2030: A conceptual framework for tomorrow. Camping Magazine, 92(6), 14-19.

Author & Erceg, L.J. (2020, Feb. 12). Is your camp MESH-responsive? American Camp Association National Conference, San Diego, CA.

Erceg, L. E., Garst, B. A., Powell, G. M., & Yard, E. E. (2009). An injury and illness surveillance program for children and staff: Improving the safety of youth settings. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, 27(4), 121–132.

Garst, B. A., Erceg, L. E., & Walton, E. (2013). Injury and illness benchmarking and prevention for children and staff attending U.S. camps: Promising practices and policy implications. Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, 4(2), 1–25.

Gwinn, C. (2015) Cheering for the children: Creating pathways to HOPE for children exposed to trauma. Tucson, AZ: Wheatmark.

Hansen-Stamp, C. & Gregg, C.R. (2011). Medical marijuana: Current issues for camps. The CampLine. American Camp Association. (2020, July 21). History and development of healthy people.

National Council on Behavioral Health (2020, July 18). Population Focused Modules.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Wilson, C., Akiva, T., Sibthorp, J., & Browne, L. P. (2019). Fostering distinct and transferable learning via summer camp. Children and Youth Services Review, 98(October 2018), 269–277.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health (2017). Mental illness.






Special Issue: Critical Exploration of Evidence-Based Practice in Organized Camping