Personal, Environmental, and Social Predictors of Camp Staff Burnout


  • Andrew Bailey University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
  • Hyoungkil Kang Southern Wesleyan University
  • Kelsey Kuiper Calvin College


camping, burnout, outdoor leadership, management


Burnout refers to a loss of productivity due to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization which is common in occupations requiring high levels of personal interaction. Much work has been done to elucidate predictors of burnout in the fields of education, psychology, and social work. While informative, these studies do not directly apply to the unique context of summer camp employment. This study was designed to address the dearth of empirical research on burnout in the camping context. A total of 124 staff at four camps completed surveys before beginning their summer work and again before their last week of work. Results indicate that staff exhibit significant declines in well-being and high levels of burnout over the course of the summer. Key preventers of burnout include feeling valued, time off, appropriate expectations, reflection, and group cohesion. Implications for youth development professionals are discussed regarding these findings and those of previous studies.



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