Theses Doctoral

An Evaluation of a Summer Camp Designed to Meet the Needs of Homeless Adolescents: Findings on the Impact of Camp Participation

Miller, Meghan Kathleen

Several studies showed adolescents living in temporary housing face multiple risks. The Floating Hospital (TFH), a non-profit organization serving homeless families in New York City, created the Camp Rise Up intervention as a six-day overnight camp to address these risks via a 14-lesson curriculum on the following topics: 1) communication; 2) self-esteem/body image; 3) anatomy; 4) alcohol and drugs; 5) puberty; 6) peer pressure; 7) pregnancy; 8) contraception; 9) gender and sexuality; 10) healthy relationships; 11) consent; 12) STIs/HIV; 13) media literacy; 14) managing emotions and conflict negotiation. Evaluation of Camp Rise Up compared pre-camp to post-camp mean scores for stage of change, self-efficacy, knowledge and social support for five behaviors of focus: saying “no” to sex, if pressured to have sex; talking about the need to use a condom every time, if you have sex; saying “no” to drugs, if pressured to use them; saying “no” to alcohol, if pressured to drink; and ending unhealthy relationships, if being abused. A secondary analysis of existing data collected by TFH on their August 2019 camp included a sample (n=24) that was 50.0% (n=11) Black, 36.4% (n= 8) Latinx, and 13.6% (n=3) mixed race with 13 girls (54.2%) and 11 boys (45.8%) with mean age of 13.26 (SD= 1.322, min=11, max=16).

Results showed: a significant increase from pre-camp to post-camp for knowledge of how to say “no” to sex, if pressured (p=.002); self-rated knowledge for all 14 topics covered in the curriculum increased significantly from pre-lesson to post-lesson (p=.000); post-camp ratings for counselors, teachers, overall camp experience, and 14 lessons were all very good to excellent; and, majority of participants would recommend the camp to others, diffusing the innovation of Camp Rise Up. Emergent themes from qualitative data analysis were: camp was a fun positive experience, they made new friends, learned new things, and tried new things beyond their comfort zone, Findings may serve as preliminary studies data to justify grant funding to support a camp of longer duration with a larger sample size and long-term follow-up. The curriculum may find application in meeting needs of this vulnerable population for vital health education.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Wallace, Barbara C.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
August 4, 2021