Opportunities for Promoting Youth Physical Activity: An Examination of Youth Summer Camps

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Youth summer camp programs have the potential to provide opportunities for physical activity, but little to no research has been conducted to determine activity levels of campers. This study aimed to examine physical activity occurring in day and resident summer camps and how activity levels differed in these camps based upon demographic characteristics.


Pedometer data were collected during hours of camp operation from 150 day campers and 114 resident campers between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. Independent t tests were used to compare physical activity by sex, race, and Body Mass Index.


Campers at day camps averaged 11,916 steps per camp day, while resident campers averaged 19,699 steps per camp day. Day campers averaged 1586 steps per hour over 7.5 hour days and resident campers averaged 1515 steps per hour over 13 hour days. Male sex, Caucasian race, and normal Body Mass Index were significant correlates of more physical activity.


Youth summer camps demonstrate the potential to provide ample opportunities for physical activity during the summer months. Traditional demographic disparities persisted in camps, but the structure of camp programs should allow for changes to increase physical activity for all participants.

Hickerson is with the Dept of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA. Henderson is with the Dept of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.