Camp Newaygo, Assistant Director Jalisa Danhof and Radford University’s Anja Whittington are being recognized for ongoing research they are doing on the impact of girls’ experiences at camp. They are receiving a national award from the American Camp Association for their efforts.
A five-year research partnership between Camp Newaygo and a Radford University professor is showing that individual resilience and grit get strengthened by girls attending summer camp.
Resiliency increased after just a week at camp, according to the studies done by Camp Newaygo Assistant Director Jalisa Danhof and Anja Whittington, a professor of Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Radford.
The research being done by Camp Newaygo, Danhof and Whittington is being recognized by the American Camp Association (ACA). The efforts are being honored with the Eleanor P. Eells Award for Excellence in Research Practice on Feb. 21 at the ACA National Conference, which runs Feb. 20 to 23 at Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, outside Orlando.
“The research is still going on,” Danhof said. “But this supports what we had known.
“I think just the amount of change that you can see in these girls in a week, with their determination and confidence, is noticeable.”
In addition, results from the 2014 survey of 368 girls, ages 10 to 16, also found increases in approaching challenges positively,independence, confidence,friendship skills, and relationship building. The research results are already impacting Camp Newaygo, with programming changes made to support girls’opportunities to grow in resilience and relationship skills, Danhof said.
In addition, the 2014 Camp Newaygo survey was part of a larger study measuring the outcomes of girls’ experiences at camp. A 34-item survey was given to girls at Camp Newaygo and seven other camp organizations across the U.S., helping develop the Adolescent Girls’ Resilience Scale (AGRS) that measures approach to challenges, self-efficacy and relationship building.
In 2016, Camp Newaygo worked with Whittington to survey camp alumni. They found Camp Newaygo offers girls opportunities for college readiness skills that include, to a great extent, independence and self-reliance, teamwork, resilience and leadership.
Another study under way is a survey of a dozen campers entering 11th grade done in 2016 with a follow-up survey to be completed when the girls are college freshmen. The Camp Newaygo girls’ results are to be compared with a group of Radford freshmen who did not attend camp. The purpose is to see if Camp Newaygo promotes college readiness skills in camp.
Danhof and Whittington are making a presentation on their Camp Newaygo research in a panel discussion titled Camp Outcomes for Girls on February 21 at the ACA National Conference.
In her sixth year with Camp Newaygo, Danhof is a Florida State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in recreation and leadership administration. She received the ACA’s Jack Weiner Leadership Award in 2017.
Whittington’s research interests include girls’ and women’s experiences in outdoor, adventure and recreational settings. She has an educational doctorate and a master’s degree in science education from the University of Maine and a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of New Hampshire.