Masters Thesis

Personal growth through guided discoveries: an assessment of returning sea campers’ self-efficacy and environmental ethics

Research has demonstrated children and young adults benefit from attending summer camps, especially when exposed to challenging activities in an outdoor environment. Researchers have identified several benefits derived from attending outdoor camps, such as increased levels of self esteem and environmental awareness. This research attempts to determine whether returning campers continue to accrue and utilize their experiences outside of camp. The research explores how returning to the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI)’s Sea Camp program each summer affects perceived levels of self-efficacy and environmental ethics on young adults (ages 13-17). The purpose of this research is two-fold. First, the research explores campers’ perceived efficacy and ability to set and achieve goals both inside and outside of camp. Second, it investigates whether their outlook on the environment has changed since attending Sea Camp and, if it has, in what ways it has changed. Returning campers, identified as those who have attended Sea Camp for at least two summers, were administered a survey pertaining to their experiences at Sea Camp. The survey was conducted in the early spring, prior to returning to CIMI for the 2011 Sea Camp program. Twenty randomly selected returning campers participated in semi-structured interviews conducted during Sea Camp 2011. The results indicate the paramount importance of providing a safe, encouraging camp environment as it allows returning campers to develop and/or expand upon their self-efficacy and environmental ethics.