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An Examination of Staff-Level Stakeholders and Organizational Culture at a Camp for Youth with HIV/AIDS

Ann Gillard, Peter A. Witt, Clifton E. Watts

Abstract


While staff issues have been discussed in corporate and not-for-profit settings, little research has been conducted in organizations that specifically serve young people. Understanding program context is important to developing successful youth development programs. One important setting for youth development is summer camp. Adult staff members strongly influence the climate of camp and can perhaps be considered the primary program input. However, staff members likely have differing theories and beliefs about the value of camp for youth, and how and why various outcomes emerge from youths’ participation. We used a qualitative case-study approach to investigate the adult staff stakeholders (i.e., counselors, health care providers, social workers, and administrative staff) and organizational culture of a camp for youth with HIV/AIDS and explored how staff-level values, beliefs, and actions potentially influenced the outcomes of participation for campers. Interviews, focus groups, and observations were conducted and data analysis followed procedures as outlined by Strauss and Corbin (1998). Analysis of the data indicated two major components. First, findings emerged related to the organizational cultures (i.e., values, beliefs, and actions) of staff-level stakeholder groups: the counselors and the psychosocial, medical, and administrative teams. Second, even though there were inconsistencies and gaps in values, beliefs, and actions between stakeholder groups, people enacted unified structure and program efforts that supported four positive camper outcomes: experiencing caring people; developing a sense of belonging; experiencing reprieve and recreation; and increasing knowledge, skills, and attitudes. However, there were variations between stakeholder groups in beliefs about how these outcomes were achieved and which outcomes were or should have been cultivated. While researchers and practitioners may assume that a cohesive group of leaders with clear and defined goals is needed to best produce positive developmental outcomes, the findings from this study suggest that cohesion is not a critical element. Camp may be such a powerful process in itself that meaningful youth outcomes can still occur even in the presence of high levels of stakeholder role differentiation and low levels of role integration. This article also reviews organizational management literature related to the findings from this study.

Keywords


Camp, HIV/AIDS, organizational processes

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