Empirically based camp research focused on best practice approaches is limited in camp settings that serve individuals with disabilities. The current study was implemented to address this issue by using a case-study design to understand the lived experience and personal memories of 27 adult participants with varying degrees of cerebral palsy. Participant attendance at this camp ranged from 5-42 years with many starting as pediatric campers. Parents were also surveyed to garner an additional perspective on the camp experience. A phenomenological approach was utilized as a means of understanding the nature of their experiences. Emerging themes included: 1) being a respected member of a community (including three subsets of community), 2) a place to have fun, 3) to participate in outdoor leisure activities, 4) a week of independence, and 5) a needed respite for parents and campers alike. Overall, the most prominent theme was being a part of a supportive community. Discussion and implications center on the potential use of community as a therapeutic modality for campers with specific medical needs, in providing direction for future research, and finally as the possible building block of a best practice camp model in settings concerned with serving individuals with disability.
Author Shay Dawson, Kendra Liddicoat
Volume Vol 43, No 4 (2009)