The Case for a New Classification System for Summer Camps Based on Variation in Their Physical, Social, and Activity Structuring


  • Lisa K.-P. Olsen Clemson University and Glenwood Resource Center
  • Robert D. Bixler Clemson University
  • Gwynn M. Powell Clemson University
  • Barry A. Garst Clemson University
  • Laura E. Stephens Clemson University
  • Deborah M. Switzer Clemson University



classification system, challenge commentary, physical setting, social milieu, activity profiles


The camp community understands that participation in camp produces a variety of impacts; what is less understood are the causal mechanisms leading to outcomes. In the past, research on the camp experience treated causal mechanisms as monolithic; this commentary argues that a weakness in existing camp research is the assumption that “camp” is “camp” and that there is a lack of attention to how components of camp interact to produce valued developmental outcomes. Using two indices from complementary fields (Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment [HOME] and Healthy Sports Index [HSI]) as exemplars, a framework exploring variation in the elements of tri-dimensional offerings between camps is proposed. What the HOME index and HSI have established in other fields is what the camp community could have: a tool that initially helps researchers examine how the structural variations within and between individual camps may eventually help explain the quality and strength of outcomes for campers and counselors.

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Author Biography

Lisa K.-P. Olsen, Clemson University and Glenwood Resource Center

Lisa K-P Olsen is a Clemson University Graduate in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. She is currently employed with the Department of Human Services, State of Iowa.


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