Using Summer Camp to Improve Well Being and Development Assets of Underprivileged Children



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The three most popular interventions to improve developmental assets are mentoring, social-emotional learning programs, and outdoor adventure experiences. Current studies suggest that outdoor experiences are about twice as effective for increasing DAs compared to mentoring and SEL. In the summer of 2021, LEAD took 44 children to camp in Livingston, TX for four days. LEAD provides experiential learning to youth from high-poverty schools in Houston to strengthen character traits, resulting in improvements in developmental assets and well-being in the short-run, and better academic, vocational, and social outcomes in the long-run. In this study, self-report of Well-being and DAs was collected two times: before the camp on June 23rd and on the last day of camp on the 27th. We analyzed Eudaimonic and Hedonic well being as well as developmental assets such as positive values, belonging, and GRIT. We got the well-being questions from the Pemberton Happiness Index and we got the developmental assets questions from The Search institute's developmental assets scales. The overall trend in the pre-to post-measures suggests a positive effect of camp based on self-reported outcomes, replicating other studies on the benefits of summer camp for youth. The large increase in Eudaimonic well-being took place with a small, non-significant decrease in hedonic well-being. This is consistent with the focus of the camp on building positive self-identity while being physically and emotionally challenged by the camp environment. We can conclude that the summer camp improved eudaimonic well-being and belonging, which are both associated with positive long-term outcomes.