5-year camp impact on kids study

Camp Impact Study

Courtesy of The American Camping Association

It’s been over a decade since ACA conducted its first national study to identify what kids learn from camp experiences. ACA and its camp community used those findings to design programs, train staff, and advocate to parents and funders the value in sending a child to camp. But we need to know more.

In 2016, ACA set out to explore the lasting impacts and the ways camp experiences prepare young people for college, their careers, and their lives beyond camp. The study has three major components, one focused on youth, one on staff, and one that explores leadership development through CIT programs and other staff recruitment strategies.

The 5-Year Camp Impact Study is conducted by an external research team under the direction of an all-volunteer Research Advisory Committee. Nearly 80 ACA accredited camps participated in this study by assisting the research team in distributing surveys to campers, parents, and staff.

This research would not be possible without our camp supporters and camp organizations that contributed financially.

Youth Impact Study

This study explores if and how camp prepares youth participants for college, career, and their lives outside of camp. Under the direction of an all-volunteer Research Advisory Committee and in partnership with researchers at the University of Utah, the Youth Impact Study aims to document the distinct and transferable outcomes of camp, as well as family process related to camp over the course over the course of 5 years.

Leadership Development Study

This unique study is funded by the Spencer Foundation as a part of an initiative to better connect research with professional practice; with this award, the Spencer Foundation recognizes the long-standing research-to-practice partnership between the American Camp Association and University of Utah, and provides funds to pursue an important and practical research project. The focus of this project is two-fold: To explore the characteristics and outcomes of teen leadership programs, such as CIT or LIT programs, among ACA accredited camps, and to identify effective practices related to recruiting and retaining new camp staff.


Staff Impact Study

Camps today face new challenges recruiting and retaining qualified camp staff, which is why ACA, New York & New Jersey agreed to fund a 5-year exploration of camp staff, what they gain from working at camp, and how working at camp prepares emerging adults for college, career, and beyond. This study parallels the methods used in the Youth Impact Study, and is also under the direction of the Research Advisory Committee and in partnership with the University of Utah.


We would like to thank the following ACA partners and affiliates for their financial support of the Camp Impact Study:

The Redwoods Group
ACA, New York & New Jersey
ACA, New England
Western Association of Independent Camps


American Camping Foundation
ACA, Ohio
ACA, Southern California & Hawaii
ACA, Keystone Regional