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Research in Outdoor Education

Abstract

Diabetes is considered to be one of the most psychologically and behaviorally demanding chronic illnesses facing adolescents (Cox & Gonder-Fredrick, 1992). To control the disease more effectively, adolescents must learn to undertake the management of their diabetes themselves (Mensing, et al., 2000; Ruggiero, et al., 1997). Self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) was used as a foundation to explore the mechanisms, within a summer camp, that led to increased perceptions of autonomy support. Research shows autonomy support to be a critical prerequisite for increased autonomous behavior.

With over 350 specialty camps serving youth with diabetes (Diabetes Education and Camping Association, 2005), summer camp has long been considered an effective modality for youth with medical related issues to learn, grow, and deal with their illnesses (Winfree, Williams, & Powell, 2002). By using the active camping environment, diabetes camps, specifically, are an "invaluable way for children with diabetes to gain skills in managing their disease ... " (ADA, 2004, p. 131). However, little empirical evidence has been able to demonstrate how and why these benefits occur in camp settings.

Data were collected from 66 campers participating in a 6-day diabetes summer camp located in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho during 2004. An eight item researcher created instrument, The Activity Specific Autonomy Support Questionnaire (ASASQ), was created to provide insight into perceptions of autonomy support upon completion of camp activities. A two-level hierarchical linear modeling was used to analyze the data. Level 1 consisted of experience predictors (group size, nature of competition, instructional approach, and activity type) and Level 2 consisted of participant predictors (age, sex, and diabetes duration). Finally, an exploratory analysis was conducted to determine possible cross-level interactions between experience and participant predictors.

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