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Neither Camper Nor Staff: Understanding Counselor-in-Training Programs

Michael Riley, Jessie Dickerson, Jim Sibthorp, Deb Bialeschki


Attending summer camp can be a developmentally enriching experience for both campers and camp staff. However, many camps offer programming that is situated between the camper and counselor roles, namely counselor-in-training (CIT) programs. While CIT programs are common, there is a lack of research documenting the form, function, and outcomes of participation in them. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to understand the nature and benefits of camp-based adolescent leadership programs. To inform this purpose, we surveyed CIT program directors and asked them to describe various aspects of their programs. We also collected primary data directly from CIT participants so that we could include participants’ perspectives in our study. Results indicated that CITs gained a variety of social and emotional skills from their CIT experience. These findings are discussed and implications for practitioners are proposed.

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Leader-in-training; leadership development; summer camp; CIT; adolescent development

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