Analysis of a Year-Round Mentoring Program for Youth with Physical Disabilities Attending a Medical Specialty Camp


  • Shay Dawson Central Michigan University
  • Bryan McCormick
  • Doug Knapp
  • Jennifer Piatt



medical specialty camp, physical disability, year-round support


Residential medical specialty camps provide short-term psychosocial benefits to youth with health conditions during summer camp, yet extinguishing effects are commonly seen in followup data as campers return to home and school settings (Dawson, 2017; Knapp et al., 2015; Moola et al., 2014; Plante et al., 2001). Innovative year-round support approaches are needed to enhance existing residential medical camps to improve long-term psychosocial outcomes associated with the months following the summer experience (Dawson, 2017; Dawson et al., 2018). This study is a qualitative analysis of an online mentoring support program designed as a follow-up approach in the months after residential summer camp experience has ended. The mentoring support program matched adolescent campers with a physical disability to an adult mentor having a similar disability and was structured through an online support curriculum facilitated by a recreational therapist. Qualitative analysis yielded two major themes from mentors and mentees (a) mentor as a disability life coach providing psychosocial support and expanding life expectations, and (b) barriers and facilitators to the mentee-mentor relationship. Discussion centers on insights for further developing this mentoring support program as an adjunct to traditional medical specialty camps.

Author Biography

Shay Dawson, Central Michigan University

Assistant Professor

Therapeutic Recreation 

Disability Studies & Community Inclusion 

Department of Recreation, Park, and Leisure Service Administration 

Central Michigan univeristy 


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