Camp Newaygo Wins National Honor

We know that experiences at camp can lead to lifelong friendships and new skills. But we also believe that camp can impact 21st century skills, which youth struggle to build in this technology-heavy world.

That has led to a five-year research partnership involving the Newaygo camp, Assistant Director Jalisa Danhof and Anja Whittington, a Radford University recreation, parks and tourism professor. Their surveys show resiliency increases 40 percent after a week at camp, with other noticeable growth in independence, confidence, relationships, college readiness and life skills.

The research done involving Camp Newaygo is being honored with the American Camp Association’s Eleanor P. Eells Award for Excellence in Research Practice. The recognition gets  bestowed Feb. 21 at the ACA  National Conference, which is Feb. 20-23 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Eleanor P. Eells Awards for Excellence in Research in Practice are designed to honor camp programs that:

  1. Develop and implement or apply an exemplary research or evaluation project, and
  2. Use research or evaluation findings to improve program practice, and
  3. Develop model research or evaluation project that can be adapted or replicated, and
  4. Share research or evaluation findings with others.

Dr. Whittington has been working with Camp Newaygo since 2014, when we met through an ACA email list. Camp Newaygo and Dr. Whittington have partnered on three separate research projects. In 2014, Camp Newaygo was one of eight camps in the study: “Measuring Outcomes Of Girls’ Experiences At Camp”, which helped to develop the Adolescent Girls’ Resilience Scale. In 2016, we partnered again on “Developing College Readiness Skills At Camp”, a study that used a retrospective analysis approach with Camp Newaygo alumnae. We held a research symposium at Camp Newaygo in January of 2017 to provide results of these studies to donors, parents, and supporters. Our current research project began in summer 2016. We worked with Dr. Whittington to create a tailor – made project for Camp Newaygo: “Developing College Readiness Skills At Camp 2016-2018”.

“Developing College Readiness Skills At Camp 2016-2018” is an ongoing fully collaborative project designed by Dr. Whittington and Camp Newaygo. The purpose of this study is to examine if Camp Newaygo promotes college readiness skills in campers. Campers entering 11th grade were studied in 2016 and 2017, with a pre-and post test during their camp experience. A follow-up study will be completed when the girls are freshman in college, after their first semester. The Camp Newaygo girls will be studied against a group of freshman at Radford University, who did not attend camp. This will be a small sample size, of about 25 campers per year.

Our five-year research partnership has been an amazing journey, and we are honored to be recognized with this award.