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Research in Outdoor Education

Abstract

Many camp professionals find themselves challenged by their funders, boards, and parents to address the issue of quality of the experiences they offer to youth. Within the larger youth development community, this issue Is receiving critical attention with more evaluations including an assessment of program quality and incorporating setting-level measures in their designs. At the practice level, organizations are looking for tools to help document effective practice and allow practitioners to assess, ·reflect on, and improve their programs (Yohalem, Wilson­Ahlstrom, Fischer, & Shinn, 2007). The purpose of this paper is to describe the results of a program improvement process the American Camp Association (ACA) and Youth Development Strategies, Inc. (YDSI) implemented to increase the quality at the setting level of the camp of developmental opportunities through the camp experience. The specific research questions were: 1) does the process result in change in campers' perceptions of the supports and opportunities needed for positive youth development? and 2) what camp characteristics seemed most aligned with positive change?

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