Welcome to the first edition of "Research Notes"! In response to the expressed interest of several readers, and in the interest of keeping camp and conference professionals abreast of related research, Camping Magazine will be including this column in each publication issue. Each "Research Notes" column will include a summary of three or four research studies along with a discussion of implications for camps and conference/retreat centers.
I invited your comments, suggestions, and reactions regarding the usefulness and applicability of these research reports. Any thoughts you may have on topics you'd like to see covered are also welcome. In addition, I will be continually accepting one-page summaries of research studies to be included in future columns. Any research completed within the past two years related to camping, children, the environment, programming, facilities, participants, leadership and management, outdoor education, therapeutic services, group dynamics, and other areas related to the field of camping and conference/retreat centers are welcome. See the box below for contact information.
This inaugural edition of "Research Notes" addresses work motivation of camp counselors, the development of ecological awareness among preschool children, and the importance of the outdoors as a significant place in childhood memories. As you read each summary, look for applications to your own setting, program, mission, and participants. Consider how you might use this information in the upcoming year.
Work Motivation for Camp Counselors
DeGraaf and Edington (1992) examined reasons and motivations for individuals to accept, retain, and return to positions as camp counselors. Six different types of camps were included in the investigation: public day camps, private day camps, commercial day camps, public resident camps, private resident camps, and commercial resident camps. Surveys were completed by camp staff at three different times throughout the summer: upon accepting a position, midway through the camp session, and at the end of camp.
Interestingly, the motivations for accepting, retaining, and returning to camp were the same, and these motivations remained stable over the course of the summer. Staff were motivated by opportunities to work with youth, to have fun, and to meet and work with others. There were no significant differences found between the staff at different types of camps.
Implications: Every year camp directors struggle over finding, hiring and retaining qualified summer staff. Many directors have intuitive feelings about the reasons individuals commit to joining a camp staff; certainly we know it is not the salary that entices them. This research study helps us to better understand reasons behind selecting a camp job; perhaps the information will assist directors in promoting and marketing camp positions. In addition to highlight camp work as an opportunity to gain experience, we should focus on the opportunities to work with youth, have fun, meet and work with others, and develop lasting friendships.
Cohen, S. & Horm-Wingerd, D. (1993). Children and the environment: ecological awareness among preschool children, Environment and Behavior, 25(1), 103-120.
Ecological Awareness Among Preschool children
In their study, Cohen and Horm-Wingerd (1993) examined the level of ecological awareness of three- to five-year-old children. Investigating children from both urban and rural areas, the researchers used pictures to conduct the study. They showed youngsters pictures of the outdoors; some pictures depicted polluted outdoor recreation areas, others illustrated pristine natural areas.
Among the polluted/unpolluted scenes the children were asked which were "nicer." In another session, after looking at a picture of a polluted outdoor swimming area the children were asked what would come next, people swimming or an even dirtier, closed beach. By a significant amount, children knew the consequences of a polluted beach (beach closed). The investigators found that young children do have some ecological thought; they are aware of events and recognize the significance of those issues (i.e., pollution leads to closed beaches). The three- to five-year-old children were able to distinguished and understand the ramifications of pollutions.
This study also looked for gender differences to determine if the societal notion that boys are more in tune with the outdoors than are girls was true; no gender differences were found. The authors suggested that the development of gender-specific environmental attitudes occurs in middle children (as children age, boys become more aware of the outdoors). The authors also auggested that if environmental education were pushed for both girls and boys in childhood, gender differences might be mitigated.
Implications: Outdoor education, nature study, and outdoor living skills have long been the underpining of organized camping. By focusing campers' attention on the study of ecology, the appreciation of the natural world, and the development of environmental attitudes for both girls and boys, camp professionals can have a large impact on later awareness and enjoyment of the outdoors. An internal audit of the importance and prominence of ecologically related programs and services for your camp or conference/retreat center might be in order. Involving children of all ages in environmentally friendly programs and practices (e.g., recycling) may serve to better set the stage for environmentally responsible living later in life.
DeGraaf, D. & Eddinton, C. (1992). Work motivation and camp counselors, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 10(4), 37-56.
The Landscapes of Childhood
Sebba (1991) investigated the importance of the outdoors in pleasant childhood memories. In adult memories and in children's direct involvement with the physical environment, the outdoors was identified as the most significant place in their childhood. Through interviews, Sebba found that children experience nature in a direct and deep, almost spiritual, manner. Adults memories of the outdoors indicated that pastoral settings were the most significant place of positive, pleasant childhood memories.
Implications: A long touted benefit of camps and conference/retreat centers in outdoor settings has been the outdoor setting itself. Camp professionals have held intuited beliefs that the environment in and of itself has a positive impact on participants. This investigation has verified those beliefs. Camps with well maintained environments can have and impact on the development of childhood memories. If the importance of the natural world and aesthetics is high with conference/retreat center personnel, managers can elicit positive and pleasant affect from participants. This positive affect can lead to an increased sense of ownership from participants and users, a reduction in vandalism, greater appreciation of resources, and general feelings of good will that may be translated to other beings.
Sebba, R. (1991). The landscapes of childhood: the reflection of childhood's environment in adult memories and in childhood attitudes, Environment and Behavior, 23, 395-422.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||for camp professionals|
|Author:||Jordan, Debra J.|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1993|
|Previous Article:||Strategic planning update: where do we go from here?|
|Next Article:||Risk management: insuring camp property.|