Residential summer camp for youth with special needs: A longitudinal approach to investigating differences in social skills

Rachel M. Flynn*, Ashley A. Ricker, Curtis Dolezal, Mike Kunin, Claude A. Mellins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Differences in social skills for youth with special needs were examined following participation in a residential summer camp. The data were collected between 2007 and 2013 from participants ages 3 to 22 (N = 1,392) at a summer camp in the Northeastern region of the United States. Mixed effect linear regression models were used to evaluate differences in social skills during a camper's first year as well as across multiple years of camp, and investigated age as a moderator as the camp served a wide age range. After one year of camp, participants of all ages showed significant increases in relationship building, self-control, self-help, communication, and positive attitude. Further, sustained improvement from year-to-year for those who attended multiple years was demonstrated. Finally, children who attended multiple summers had greater overall improvements than those who attended one year. The findings provide positive evidence that summer camps focused on improving social skills can be effective service programs for special needs populations and that these improvements can continue with multiple years of camp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-363
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume96
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Community-based program
  • Longitudinal
  • Social relationships
  • Social skills
  • Summer camp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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