Mental Health and Treatment Issues in Recreational Residential Summer Camps: A Grounded Theory Analysis

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Shelly Smith-Acuña

Second Advisor

Jennifer Erickson Cornish

Third Advisor

Deborah Fishman


Recreational camp, Adolescents, Mental health issues


Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are commonly experienced by children and adolescents (Ehrenreich-May & Bilek, 2011). Many of these youth attend recreational residential summer camps where they are separated from their caregivers and cared for by adolescent camp counselors. Current research shows that camp has a positive impact on the social and emotional development of youth, but there is limited research about the mental health issues that arise in this setting (Thurber, Scanlin, Scheuler, & Henderson, 2007). This study was designed to identify the current challenges of managing mental health issues at residential recreational summer camps. Eleven qualitative interviews were conducted with camp counselors and directors from six different summer camps. Results indicated that camp directors across the board are encountering a broad range of mental health issues each summer, not only among campers but counselors as well. It became obvious throughout the interviews that camp directors had more knowledge and data to draw from than the camp counselors when providing information about the types and frequency of mental health issues in this setting. Results also suggest that summer camp may be a possible setting for mental health prevention programs, though this was not explicitly discussed.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


50 pgs

This document is currently not available here.