Facilitating positive developmental experiences for youth at a summer sport camp


Positive youth development (PYD) has been examined in various youth sport and camp contexts (Jones et al., 2011), however there is little research that has examined how leaders effectively deliver PYD experiences among youth in non-competitive sport contexts, such as at a residential summer sport camp. Furthermore, there is a lack of research examining the structure and organizational context which enables leader to deliver PYD experiences for youth. Using an instrumental case study methodology (Stake, 1995), 57 participants (15 counselors, 15 coaches, 16 senior campers, 8 counselors-in-training, and 3 management staff) participated in individual interviews and focus groups during one summer camp season. Interviews, observations, and training documents were analyzed using Bronfenbrenner's Process-Person-Context-Time model (Bronfenbrenner, 1999) and the NRCIM's 8 settings features framework (NRCIM, 2002). Results indicated that leaders provided campers with opportunities for positive growth experiences by appropriately structuring social interactions, modifying games and activities to include campers of all ages and physical/developmental abilities, and forming supportive relationships by making connections with individual campers and encouraging them to move outside their social and physical comfort zone at camp. Management supported leaders in delivering PYD experiences by emphasizing a 'staff as one team' philosophy, encouraging staff to act as role models for campers, and through continual staff training session over the summer. Results from this study provide insight into positive youth development practices in non-competitive sport contexts and may help to contribute to staff and coach training in order to facilitate positive development experiences among youth.