Resilience, Peer Relationships, and Confidence: Do Girls’ Programs Promote Positive Change?


  • Anja Whittington Radford University
  • Jeffery E. Aspelmeier Radford University



resilience, girls, camps, experiential and adventure education, confidence, peer relationships


The purpose of this study was to analyze whether girls’ levels of resilience increased after participation in a variety of programs. In this study, 711 girls participated in one of four program types: adventure education (n = 71), experiential education (n = 164), traditional camp setting (n = 228), and mixed camp setting (n = 248). The study compared outcomes across program type to examine whether specific program types were more effective at promoting resilience in girls. The researchers analyzed data using 2 (within subjects; Time: Time 1 vs. Time 2) Å~ 4 (between subjects; Program Type: Adventure Program, Experiential Program, Traditional Camp, and Mixed Camp Program) mixed model ANOVAs. Results indicate small yet significant changes in resilience for adolescent girls in all program settings. However, the degree of difference appears to be influenced by program type.

Subscribe to JOREL

Author Biographies

Anja Whittington, Radford University

Recreation, Parks and Tourism Department


Jeffery E. Aspelmeier, Radford University

Professor, Psychology


Ahern, N. R. (2006). Adolescent resilience: An evolutionary concept analysis. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 21(3), 175-185.

Allen, L. R., Cox, J., & Cooper, N. L. (2006). The impact of a summer day camp on the resiliency of disadvantaged youths. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 77(1), 17-23.

Aspelmeier, J., Whittington, A., & Budbill, N. W. (2015) Adolescent Girl’s Resilience Scale Manual. Unpublished Testing Manual. Radford University, Radford, VA. Retrieved from

Association for Experiential Education. What is experiential education? Retrieved from

Bakeman, R. (2005). Recommended effect size statistics for repeated measures designs. Behavior Research Methods, 37, 379-384. doi:10.3758/BF03192707.

Bandura, A. (2005). Guide for constructing self-efficacy scales. In T. Urdan, & F. Pajares (Eds.), Self Efficacy Beliefs in Adolescents (pp. 307-337). Greenwich, CT: Information Age.

Beightol, J., Jevertson, J., Gray, S., Carter, S., & Gass, M. (2008). The effect of an experiential, adventure-based “anti-bullying initiative” on levels of resilience: A mixed methods study. Journal of Experiential Education, 3(31), 420-424.

Benard, B., & Marshall, K. (2001). Adventure education: Making a lasting difference.

Bialeschki, M. D., Henderson, K. A., & James, P. A. (2007). Camp experiences and development outcomes for youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 16, 769-788.

Briggs, M. K., Staton, A. R., & Gilligan, T. D. (2009). The girls’ leadership experience camp: A parallel process of leadership skill development for school counselors-in-training. Professional School Counseling, 13(2), 125-133.

Brown, T. C., & Fry, M. D. (2011). Strong girls: A physical-activity/life skills intervention for girls transitioning to junior high. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 2, 57-69.

Carver, R. (1996). Theory for practice: A framework for thinking about experiential education. Journal of Experiential Education, 19(1), 8-13.

Chapman, S., McPhee, P, & Proudman, B. (1992). What is experiential education? Journal of Experiential Education, 15(2), 16-23.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for behavioral sciences (Second Edition). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Cooper, N, Estes, C. A., & Allen, L. (2004). Bouncing back: How to develop resiliency through outcome-based recreation programs. Parks and Recreation, 39, 28-35.

D’Amanto, L. G., & Krasny, M. E. (2011). Outdoor adventure education: Applying transformative learning theory to understanding instrumental learning and personal growth in environmental education. The Journal of Environmental Education, 42, 237-254.

Dean, K. L., & Harre, N. (2013). The youth adventure programming model. Journal of Adolescence, 24(2), 293-308. doi:10.1111/jora.12069.

Debold, E., Brown, L. M., Wessen, S., & Brookins, G. K. (1999). Cultivating hardiness zones for adolescent girls: A reconceptualization of resiliency in relationship with caring adults. In N. G. Johnson, M. C. Roberts, & J. Worrell (Eds.), Beyond appearances: A new look at adolescent girls. (pp. 181-204). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ditter, B. (November/December, 2009). Girls at camp: Overcoming relational aggression. Camping Magazine. Retrieved from

Ewert, A. & Yoshino, A. (2011). The influence of short-term adventure-based experiences on levels of resilience. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 11(1), 35-50.

Galeotti, S. (2015). Empowering pre-adolescent girls: girls on the run experiential learning program exploratory study. Journal of Experiential Education, 38(4), 407-423. doi:10.1177/1053825915603578

Garst, B. A., Browne, L. P., & Bialeschki, M. D. (2011). Youth development and the camp experience. New Directions for Youth Development, 130, 73-87.

Garst, B. & Ozier, L. (2015). Enhancing youth outcomes and organizational practices through a camp based reading program. Journal of Experiential Education, 1-15.

Haber, J. D. (May/June, 2014). Eleven tips to build resilience with campers. Camping Magazine. Retrieved from

Hayhurst, J., Hunter, J. A., Kafka, S., & Boyes, M. (2015). Enhancing resilience in youth through a 10-day developmental voyage. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 15(1), 40-52.


Henderson, K. A., Bialeschki, M. D., Scanlin, M. M., Thurber, C., Whitaker, L. S., & Marsh, P. E. (2007). Components of camp experiences for positive youth development. Journal of Youth Development, 1(3), 1-12.

Henderson, K. A., Oakleaf, L., & Bialeschki, M. D. (2009). Questions raised in exploring spiritual growth and camp experiences. Leisure/Loisir, 33(1), 179-195. doi:10.1080/14927713.2009.9651435

Hurtes, K.P. (2002). Social dependency: The impact of adolescent female culture. Leisure Sciences, 24:109-121.

Hurtes, K. P., Allen, L. R., Stevens, B. W., & Lee, C. (2000). Benefits-based programming: Making an impact on youth. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 18(1), 34-39.

Jordan, J. V. (2012). Relational resilience in girls. In S. Goldstein & R. B. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (2nd ed.). (pp. 79-90). New York: Springer.

Lindsay, A., & Ewert, A. (1999). Learning at the edge: Can experiential education contribute to educational reform? Journal of Experiential Education, 22(1), 12-19.

Merryman, M., Mezei, A., Bush, J. A., & Weinstein, M. (2012). The effects of a summer camp experience on factors of resilience in at-risk youth. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 1(1), 1-33.

Overholt, J. R., & Ewert, A. (2015). Gender matters: Exploring the process of developing resilience through outdoor adventure. Journal of Experiential Education, 38(4), 41-55. doi:10.1177/10538259135720.

Prentice, D., & Miller, D. (1992). When small effects are impressive. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 160–164. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.160.

Prince-Embury, S. (2006). Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents: Profiles of personal Strengths Manual. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Assessments.

Roberts, J. W. (2012). Beyond Learning by Doing: Theoretical currents in experiential education. New York: Routledge.

Sammet, K. (2010). Relationships matter: Adolescent girls and relational development in adventure education. Journal of Experiential Education, 33(2), 151-165.

Scharff, C. (2008). Camp is for girls: The role of single-gender summer camps in connecting children to nature. Theory in Action, 1(3), 91-100.

Schmalz, D. L., Kerstetter, D. L., & Kleiber, D. A. (2011). An Evaluation of Developmental Outcomes at a Free-Choice Oriented Girls Summer Camp. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership, 3(1). doi:10.7768/1948-5123.1069

Scrutton, R., & Beames, S. (2015). Measuring the unmeasurable: Upholding rigor in quantitative studies of personal and social development in outdoor adventure education. Journal of Experiential Education, 38(1), 8-25.

Sibthorp, J., Bialeschki, M.D., Morgan, C., & Browne, L. (2013). Validating: Norming, and utility of a youth outcomes battery for recreation programs and camps. Journal of Leisure Research, 45(4), 514-43.

Sibthorp, J. & Morgan, C. (2011). Adventure-based programming: Exemplary youth development practice. New Directions for Youth Development, 130, 105-119.

Siqueira, L. M., & Diaz, A. (2004). Fostering resilience in adolescent females. The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, 71(3), 148-154.

Short, J. L., & Russell-Mayhew, S. (2009). What counselors need to know about resiliency in adolescents. International Journal of Counseling, 31, 213-227.

Weavers, L. K., Bautista, D. T., Williams, M. E., Moses, M. D., Marron, C. A., & La Rue, G. P.

(2011). Assessing an engineering day camp for middle-school girls. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 137(3), 127-134. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)EI.1943-5541.0000046

Whittington, A., Aspelmeier, J. E., & Budbill, N. W. (2015). Adolescent girls’ resilience scale. Retrieved from

Whittington, A., Aspelmeier, J., & Budbill, N. (2016). Promoting resiliency in adolescent girls through adventure programming. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Leadership, 16(1), 2-15.


Whittington, A. & Budbill, N. (2013). Breaking the mold: Impacts of adventure education on girls. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education and Leadership, 5(1), 37-53. doi:10.7768/1948-5123.1128

Whittington, A., Budbill, N., & Aspelmeier, J. (2013). Promoting resiliency in adolescent girls through adventure education. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education and Leadership, 5(2), 169-172. doi: 10.7768/1948-15123.1219

Whittington, A. (2011). Life after the river: Long-term impacts of girls’ participation in an adventure program. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education and Leadership, 3(1), 40

Whittington, A. & Nixon Mack, E. (2010). Inspiring courage in girls through an adventure program. [Special issue]. Journal of Experiential Education, 33(2), 166-180.

Ungar, M. (September/October 2012). Camps help make children resilient. Camping Magazine, 22-27.






Regular Papers