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Title:Camp counselors' social-emotional behaviors when interacting with campers and the campers’ perceptions of these behaviors
Author(s):Owens, Megan H.
Director of Research:Barnett Morris, Lynn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Barnett Morris, Lynn
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Payne, Laura; da Costa Cardoso Dantas Riberio, Nuno F.; McDermott, Monica; Larson, Reed
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):social-emotional learning
Abstract:Summer residential camps have provided youth with learning experiences for over 125 years. Prior research has demonstrated that youth gain positive skills through their camp participation (Thurber, Scanlin, Scheuler, & Henderson, 2006), however little research has been conducted exploring the transmission of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) skills in a camp setting. This skill set is comprised of five competencies (Relationship Skills, Social Awareness, Self-Management, Self-Awareness, Responsible Decision-Making Skills) and has been consistently examined within school settings, due to the belief that SEL acquisition leads to enhanced academic goal attainment and future success. The structure of summer residential camps is comprised of highly social environments with the potential for a multiplicity of emotional situations to arise. Youth attend the residential camp programs outside their community and without the presence of family and friends from home, and thus, they might look to their counselor as an important individual who will be caring and supportive, as well as serving as a role model for appropriate social and emotional behaviors. The purpose of this study was to explore how the relationship between the counselor and camper could serve as a medium for learning Social-Emotional Learning skills. The study adopted a qualitative methodology that involved 4 female counselors and their 12 female campers, aged 10 to 12 years, at one summer residential camp in a rural Midwestern community. Semi-structured interviews (with both campers and counselors) and observations (of counselors) were conducted to reveal the counselors’ perspectives regarding their modeling of the SEL component behaviors, in addition to the campers’ ability to recognize and perceive these expressions. The findings suggested the counselors demonstrated inconsistent SEL behaviors despite their perception of possessing strong capabilities for recognizing and managing their emotions. The study findings suggested SEL could be impacted through this relationship to a greater degree if the counselors enhanced their translation of SEL skills into their personal behavior in addition to directly teaching specific SEL-related skills to their campers. The counselor-camper relationship was explored as an important component for enhancing SEL skills, and suggestions were made to extend previous SEL-related research from the classroom to the residential camp setting. Residential camps were seen as settings with unlimited but as yet untapped potential for the transmission of important social-emotional skills in less intrusive and more enjoyable ways.
Issue Date:2016-04-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Megan Helen Owens
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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