Significant Life Change Occurs at Summer Camp, Recent Research Indicates
By Jocelyn Fay

Pine Springs Ranch Christian Youth Camp was one of 22 Adventist youth camps that joined a 2008-2009 research project conducted by the John Hancock Center for Youth Ministry, on the campus of La Sierra University.

Rick Silvestri, Southeastern California Conference associate youth director and PSR summer camp director, said that initial reports of findings have been released; one is focused on camper responses and the other on staff experiences. The findings underscore the significant life change that occurs for both campers and staff during the summer.

Key findings from the camper research include:

  • Devotion to Adventism and personal religiousness is highly correlated with learning about nature.
  • Nature plays an important role in spiritual identity and development. Fifty-six percent felt camp increased their understanding of that importance.
  • Fairness and respect are significant qualities developed during the camping experience.
  • Teamwork is an important skill that can be learned at summer camp.
  • Self-concept outcomes were very reliable with a large set of scaled scores. Thirty-two percent of the campers felt their experience at camp helped them have positive self-concepts.
  • One-third of the campers increased their identity as Seventh-day Adventists because of the camp activities and the worship programs.
  • The activities that were identified as the most liked by campers were spiritual activities, worships, plays, pageants, sermons and cabin devotions.
  • Forty-five percent said their “whole approach to life” is based on their religion, and 37 percent said religion was more important to them since they had been to camp.
  • Sixty-one percent claimed regular participation at a local church, and 35 percent said they believed their participation in a local church would increase because of having been at camp.
  • Fifty percent, after attending camp, believed that they would seek out more opportunities to have a close relationship with God.
  • Forty-nine percent of the campers felt that understanding the importance of Adventism was higher since attending camp.
  • Eighty-one percent of campers said they made a decision for Christ during their camp experience.

When asked what they liked best about camp, one camper wrote, “Most definitely the different activities, chapel, counselors, friends, and accepting atmosphere. I can’t decide what’s best because everything at camp is my favorite thing.” The data also showed that 80 percent of campers scored between eight and 10 on a 10-point scale indicating how much they enjoyed camp with 1 being “worst time ever” and 10, “best time ever."

“Summer camp is an amazing experience for both campers and staff, Silvestri says. “One cannot spend a week at camp and leave unchanged, untouched. Memories made at camp last a lifetime. Friends made at camp add joy to life. Counselors at camp become positive role models. Skills learned at camp build confidence and teamwork. And best of all—decisions made at camp last for eternity.

To learn more about the exciting 2010 summer camp program at Pine Springs Ranch, get a brochure from any SECC church or school, or see it online at

“Every young person needs to experience the joy and wonder of the camp experience,” said Silvestri.