Here is a brief overview of the papers that we found on camps:
Kinnealey, M., Koenig, K., & Heucker, G. (1999). Changes in special needs children following intensive short-term intervention. Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, (3), 85-103. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/ 292144483_Changes_in_special_needs_ children_following_intensive_short-term_intervention
This was a study of Camp Avanti in the USA
- Research Design: Quasi-experimental design
- Participants: Children aged 6-13 years with a range of diagnosis
- Duration:Six-day, overnight therapy camp (a). Compared with a six-week overnight camp (b). Both held in the USA.
- Interventions used: a) Sensory integration (SI) approach was used by occupational therapists . b) Similar activities to the SI camp. OT’s worked with children only 1-2 times per week (time unknown)
- Staff ratio and training: Unknown ratio, not reported.
- Study results summary: Reduced extremes of behaviour on the behavioural questionnaire used. Decrease in ‘soft neurological signs’ (these signs not stated).
Stackhouse, T., Burke, H., Lane, S., Hui, C., Burke, L., Osten, B., & Hacker, C. (2020). Effectiveness of an intensive occupational therapy camp for children, American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference and Expo, Boston, 26-29th March
This was a study on Camp Jabiru in NSW
- Research Design: Pre-test post-test repeated measures cohort design.
- Participants: 37 children aged 8-12 years. No diagnosis stated.
- Duration: Five-day, four- night therapy camp. Held in Australia.
- Interventions used: Individualised intervention to address parent rated goals using an integrated framework model.
- Staff ratio and training: Occupational therapists. Overall ratio of support not stated.
- Study results summary: Evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of camp in supporting campers to reach goals set by their parents. Full paper yet to be published so keep an eye out for this.
Walker, A., Barry, D., & Bader, H. (2010). Therapist and parent ratings of changes in adaptive social skills following a summer treatment camp for children with autism spectrum disorders: A preliminary study. Child & Youth Care Forum, 39(5), 305–322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9110-x
- Research Design: Pre-test post-test study design.
- Participants: 12 children with an ASD diagnosis
- Duration: Four-week overnight camp
- Interventions used: Intervention to develop social skills.
- Staff ratio and training: Teams had two team leaders each either (speech language therapist, occupational therapist or physical therapist). Additional supports not stated
- Study results summary: Therapists rated children as improving social skills. Parents rated children as improving verbal communication and social interaction.
Koegel, L., Glugatch, L., Koegel, R., & Castellon, F. (2019). Targeting IEP social goals for children with autism in an inclusive summer camp. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 49(6), 2426-2436. doi:http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1007/s10803-019-03992-4
- Research Design: Concurrent multiple baseline Single Case Experimental Design
- Participants: Four children with ASD who received special education public school services.
- Duration: Day camp. Every day for two weeks from 9am to 3pm.
- Interventions used: Goals set by parents including turn taking and participation in activities. Intervention built in activities.
- Staff ratio and training: 1:1 support from an undergraduate student majoring in psychology with mentoring from graduate psychology students.
- Study results summary: All participants met the goals set for them, and maintained progress outside of camp.
Some of our key take-aways/thinking points:
- All of the camps investigated had been created for different reasons, and that is something important to have in mind when reading these papers and considering the available evidence.
- For the groups that came to these camps, overall they had positive outcomes, with the children who attended, showing progress towards the goal areas for that camp.
- Because a child’s camp experience is individualised, it can be difficult to capture change/outcomes in research, a lot like a lot of occupational therapy assessments and interventions! Considering the assessments used in these studies was interesting to think about and reflecting on the other changes we might see, but that aren’t captured by the chosen assessments.
- Reflecting on the individualised nature of camps- that all of these camps had frameworks or general processes, but allowed space to modify intervention and supports for the children on camp. Comparing this back to other programs working on the goal areas of the camp e.g. social skills programs or regulation programs, and why these programs may not be a fit in a camp setting- how this might impact generalisation of skills, and follow up learning.
We are interested to see what the study on Camp Confidence 2022 will tell us!