Assessing Camp Provider Needs Related to the Mental, Emotional, and Social Health of Youth and Staff: Implications for Parent Communication, Human Resources, and Transition of Care




Summer camp, Mental, emotional, and social health, Transition of care, Parent communication, Provider resource utilization


Children, adolescents, and young adults are experiencing increases in mental, emotional, and social health (MESH) challenges including anxiety and depression. Out-of-school time (OST) program providers such as summer camps rely on effective communication with parents and other stakeholders to provide for these MESH needs, and the development of before and after program communication processes are viewed as a promising strategy for MESH response across youth settings. In addition, OST program providers seek human and educational resources for meeting the MESH needs of program participants, and also try to match available MESH resources to the work demands of their frontline staff who are tasked with responding to youth MESH needs when they arise. The importance of these topics is not reflected in available research informing recommended OST provider practices.

Thus, this study examined program provider communications with parents about their child’s MESH needs as well as program provider MESH resource utilization. Our three research questions are as follows: (1) What parent communication approaches do camp providers use to support youth MESH needs?; (2) What information is communicated to parents, teachers, or healthcare providers regarding youth MESH before and after camp?; and (3) What supports and resources do camp providers need to better manage MESH issues?

Findings from this research highlight camp provider MESH-related parent communications and resource utilization. Notably, while respondents indicated requesting general MESH information on the health history, further assessment and documentation of these identified MESH issues within- and across-camp seasons is lacking. Respondents also indicated camp nurses as the most prevalent human resource. Collectively, these results indicate camp providers and out-of-camp stakeholders acknowledge the benefit of health history reporting and communication with regard to MESH challenges as well as providing MESH resources to meet employee job demands.





Research Paper