Long-Term Impacts of Working at an Organized Camp for Seasonal Staff


  • Don DeGraaf
  • Jessie Glover


Management of seasonal staff, Long-term impacts of camp on staff, Long-term impacts of working at an organized camp for seasonal staff


The logo of the American Camping Association reads “Camps give kids a world of good” and numerous research studies have identified the benefits of organized camping for participants. Yet, in addition to serving campers, organized camps employ thousands of young people on a seasonal basis each year. These staff members are also impacted by the camp experience. Thus the purpose of this study was to gain a richer understanding of how the camp experience impacts seasonal staff, especially camp counselors, after five, ten, fifteen or more years following the camp experience. Results of the study demonstrated that a majority (over 90%) viewed the camp experience in positive terms while all respondents recognized the long-term positive impact that the camp experience had on their lives. Themes identified from the content analysis of the transcribed interviews were initially organized around three content areas: motivations for working at camp, personal impacts of the camp experience, and professional impacts of the camp experience. As a result of the number of positive comments made by participants a fourth category was added. This category, entitled, reflections on camp, included themes related to why participants saw the camp experience as being special for staff. First, implications from the study reinforced the power of using stories to codify the learning that takes place for staff at camp as well as to interpret the camp experience to others. Second, respondents recognized the importance of the mission of the organization in attracting and motivating them to work. Third, the results of this study recognize the importance of Benefits Based Management (BBM) for both customers and staff, as both receive benefits from their involvement with camp programs. Fourth, the study identified the importance of camps building long term relationships with campers, nurturing them into potential staff and finally long term advocates of the camp program.





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