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Impacts of a Christian
Camp Experience
Jacob Sorenson, PhD
jake@sacredplaygrounds.com
Paul Hill, DMin
paulghill@me.com
www...
Thank you ECRP supporters!
Jeff Bluhm: Lutherdale
Penny Christenson: LOMO
Dave Coker: NLOM
Margie Feilder: Flathead
Jerry ...
This one time, at Bible camp…
Peer Relationships
Independence
Social Comfort
Friendship Skills
Environmental
Awareness
Leadership
Self Esteem
Adventure ...
Fun and Games?
Camp High?
Theologically
shallow?
Question: What is the impact of the one-
week Christian summer camp exper...
All Camps in USA
(11 million summer campers)
Profit Non-profit Religious(25%) Agency
Jewish Christian Muslim
(2 million ca...
Major finding:
The Christian summer camp experience
had positive and lasting impacts that
extended well beyond the week of...
5 FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS
PARENTS:
97% “My child had fun”
92% “It is clear camp impacted
my child”
81% “My child grew in self-
confidence”
90% “My c...
42%
60%
61%
65%
65%
67%
76%
88%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
The Bible studies and lessons
The worship services
Spending time i...
73%
74%
75%
77%
80%
87%
19%
19%
11%
18%
16%
10%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Strongly Agree Somewhat agree
I had a lot of fun.
...
34%
45%
50%
53%
69%
39%
37%
31%
33%
27%
Strongly agree Moderately agree
Camp had a significant
impact on my life.
Camp hel...
We asked campers 17 identical questions
on the first day, last day, and 2 months after
camp.
They showed growth during cam...
The “Camp High”
Excitement about Worship Participatory Learning
Increased Positivity “Vertical” Faith
Lasting Impacts of Camp
Devotional Practices “Horizontal” Faith
Engagement in Church Self Confidence
LASTING CHANGE
I know that I can make friends.
I am good at solving problems with a team
of people.
I am happy about my...
Religious Practices Before
and After Camp
250 Campers: 2 months before and 2 months after camp
64%
26%
61%
80%
43%
72%
0%
...
Faith in the Home
I have conversations with my family about God and faith:
Often or Always Sometimes Rarely or never
BEFOR...
LASTING CHANGE
 Faith in God helps me in my daily life.
 It is important for me to belong to my
church/congregation.
 I...
National Study of Youth and
Religion 2003-2008
 Camp has lasting impact
on communal spirituality 5
years later!
 Those w...
Vertical FaithHorizontal Faith Self Confidence
All 6 camps
Camp regulars
First-time campers
Confirmation camp
Girls AND Bo...
Different
from Home
Camp
Participatory
Relational
Faith
Centered
Safe
Space
Relational
Different
from Home
C
Faith
Centered
Participatory
Campers felt they had to “hide their true
selves” (8% of campers) or were “picked
on or left out” (7%)Space
Part
Campers d...
Factors that Show Impacts:
 Faith and Self Confidence of the camper on day 1:
lower starts show higher growth
 First tim...
5 FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS
Major Implications
 We have compelling evidence for lasting impacts of
the Christian summer camp experience!
 Attend to ...
www.effectivecamp.com
What’s Next?
Effective Camp @ YOUR CAMP
 Spread the word!
 Expand the data pool
 Help camps imple...
www.effectivecamp.com
Contact us:
Jacob Sorenson, PhD
jake@sacredplaygrounds.com
Paul Hill, DMin
paulghill@me.com
@effecti...
Effective Camp Phase 2 Learnings Webinar
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Effective Camp Phase 2 Learnings Webinar

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The presentation slides from the Effective Camp Research Project Phase 2 findings presented by Dr. Jacob Sorenson, Lead Researcher.

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Effective Camp Phase 2 Learnings Webinar

  1. 1. Impacts of a Christian Camp Experience Jacob Sorenson, PhD jake@sacredplaygrounds.com Paul Hill, DMin paulghill@me.com www.effectivecamp.com #effectivecamp
  2. 2. Thank you ECRP supporters! Jeff Bluhm: Lutherdale Penny Christenson: LOMO Dave Coker: NLOM Margie Feilder: Flathead Jerry Fritsch: L. Lakeside David Holtz: Luthercrest Layne Nelson: LOSD Marv Nysetvold: Shetek Jim Schmidt: Onomia Don Shunkwiler: Sugar Creek Russ Senti: LOMC Brent Seaks: Badlands Lake Wapogasset LBC Dr. Roland Marinson Jesse Weiss Amber Hill
  3. 3. This one time, at Bible camp…
  4. 4. Peer Relationships Independence Social Comfort Friendship Skills Environmental Awareness Leadership Self Esteem Adventure and Exploration Values and Decision Making SpiritualityACAcamps.org
  5. 5. Fun and Games? Camp High? Theologically shallow? Question: What is the impact of the one- week Christian summer camp experience on the lives of the primary participants and their supporting networks? Church connection?
  6. 6. All Camps in USA (11 million summer campers) Profit Non-profit Religious(25%) Agency Jewish Christian Muslim (2 million campers) Conversion Nurture UMC PC(USA) Lutheran UCC (175,000) VA WA WV WI WY Age 11-14 6 CAMPS Narrow Focus 15 groups 386 parents 1200 camper surveys Target
  7. 7. Major finding: The Christian summer camp experience had positive and lasting impacts that extended well beyond the week of camp, affecting family devotional practices, church participation, personal well-being, and faith commitment. Impacts Centered on: 5 Fundamental Characteristics
  8. 8. 5 FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS
  9. 9. PARENTS: 97% “My child had fun” 92% “It is clear camp impacted my child” 81% “My child grew in self- confidence” 90% “My child grew in faith” CAMPERS: 97% “I had fun at camp” 92% “My questions about faith were taken seriously” 93% “I was strengthened in faith” 95% “I learned more about God” < 2% “I was picked on or left out”
  10. 10. 42% 60% 61% 65% 65% 67% 76% 88% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% The Bible studies and lessons The worship services Spending time in nature. The music, songs and singing The large group games/activities The other campers in my group The whole camp experience My cabin counselor/group leader Strongly agree Somewhat agree What Campers Enjoyed Most Based on 1,134 last-day camper responses
  11. 11. 73% 74% 75% 77% 80% 87% 19% 19% 11% 18% 16% 10% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Strongly Agree Somewhat agree I had a lot of fun. I plan to attend this camp in the future. I tried something new at camp. I was strengthened in my faith. I learned more about God. Last Day of Camp Based on 1,134 camper responses My ?’s about faith were taken seriously.
  12. 12. 34% 45% 50% 53% 69% 39% 37% 31% 33% 27% Strongly agree Moderately agree Camp had a significant impact on my life. Camp helped me grow in independence. I feel more confident in myself since camp. I want to spend more time in nature. 2-3 Month Follow-up Based on 278 camper responses I was strengthened in my faith.
  13. 13. We asked campers 17 identical questions on the first day, last day, and 2 months after camp. They showed growth during camp in 16 of these items. 6 reverted to pre-camp levels. 10 remained high 2-3 months later
  14. 14. The “Camp High” Excitement about Worship Participatory Learning Increased Positivity “Vertical” Faith
  15. 15. Lasting Impacts of Camp Devotional Practices “Horizontal” Faith Engagement in Church Self Confidence
  16. 16. LASTING CHANGE I know that I can make friends. I am good at solving problems with a team of people. I am happy about my life and who I am. I like going out of my comfort zone and trying new things. Self Confidence
  17. 17. Religious Practices Before and After Camp 250 Campers: 2 months before and 2 months after camp 64% 26% 61% 80% 43% 72% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Attend church 2+ times/month Read Bible 2+ times/week Pray with family 2+ times/week Before Camp After Camp
  18. 18. Faith in the Home I have conversations with my family about God and faith: Often or Always Sometimes Rarely or never BEFORE CAMP 2 MONTHS AFTER CAMP 26%42%32% Had 2 or more conversations with family about God and faith
  19. 19. LASTING CHANGE  Faith in God helps me in my daily life.  It is important for me to belong to my church/congregation.  I have important things to offer the church and the world.  If I have personal problems, there is an adult in my church I could turn to.  I have Christian friends that I can turn to in times of need. Horizontal Faith: Faith that is Relevant
  20. 20. National Study of Youth and Religion 2003-2008  Camp has lasting impact on communal spirituality 5 years later!  Those who attended camp as youth were over 3 times more likely to remain religious five years later than those who did not attend. Source: Sorenson, “The Summer Camp Experience,” Journal of Youth Ministry 13 (2014).
  21. 21. Vertical FaithHorizontal Faith Self Confidence All 6 camps Camp regulars First-time campers Confirmation camp Girls AND Boys Kids who didn’t enjoy: Group Games Bible studies Being in nature
  22. 22. Different from Home Camp Participatory Relational Faith Centered Safe Space
  23. 23. Relational Different from Home C Faith Centered Participatory
  24. 24. Campers felt they had to “hide their true selves” (8% of campers) or were “picked on or left out” (7%)Space Part Campers did not agree with “I tried something new” or reported having difficulty being away from technology lational Campers did not agree that they enjoyed their counselor or they did not enjoy their fellow campers No evidence for harmful impacts, but no growth when the model breaks down.
  25. 25. Factors that Show Impacts:  Faith and Self Confidence of the camper on day 1: lower starts show higher growth  First timers affected more than Camp Lifers  Different weeks of camp show clear differences. Camp is not a magic formula!  Responses to weather and other unexpected factors can show clear positive impacts  Overwhelmed staff, especially on overfull weeks, tend to show clear negative impacts  STAFF TRAINING!
  26. 26. 5 FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS
  27. 27. Major Implications  We have compelling evidence for lasting impacts of the Christian summer camp experience!  Attend to the 5 fundamentals of the camp model  Camp is not a magic formula!  Camp does not stand on its own. It is part of a larger ecology of personal support and faith formation.  If we want to have lasting impacts on campers, we need to have impacts in the home.
  28. 28. www.effectivecamp.com What’s Next? Effective Camp @ YOUR CAMP  Spread the word!  Expand the data pool  Help camps implement the model  Go to website or contact Paul Hill: paulghill@me.com
  29. 29. www.effectivecamp.com Contact us: Jacob Sorenson, PhD jake@sacredplaygrounds.com Paul Hill, DMin paulghill@me.com @effectivecamp #effectivecamp

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