Emotional Intelligence, Camp Climate, and Camp Identification at Residential Summer Camp
Refsguard, Christopher J.
College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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Changes in emotional intelligence (EI) and levels of camp climate and identification (CC/I) were measured during four one-week sessions at an environmentally-focused residential summer camp in Wisconsin. Data were collected from 155 campers ages nine to fourteen. Self-perceptions of EI were documented using the five-point Likert-style Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire – Child Short Form (TEIQue-CSF). Information on camp climate and identification (CC/I) was gathered using a modified version of the seven-point Likert-style School Climate and School Identification Measure – Student (SCASIM-St). Existing research on emotional intelligence and social/group identity concepts support the importance EI, climate, and identification in positive youth development, especially in learning environments such as schools. In this study, campers completed the TEIQue-CSF on the first and last days of camp. A paired-samples t-test revealed a significant increase in EI over the course of the week (t(154) = -3.34, p < .001). Comparison of the level of self-reported EI at the beginning of camp and CC/I at the end of camp, as measured by the modified SCASIM-St, indicated that EI was a significant positive predictor of CC/I (simple linear regression, R²=.400, F=101.87, p = .001). A mixed methods ANOVA and t-tests conducted on the SCASIM-St data indicated that returning campers rated CC/I more positively than first-year campers. These results align with existing research on the importance of EI and healthy social/group dynamics in learning environments, while contributing new information on these constructs in the camp setting. Camps can use these data to refine program offerings, improve youth development outcomes, and communicate the value of camp to parents.
positive youth development