Amira Oudeh,Tahmina Nizam,Ian Barron,
Background: The current study sought to address the lack of evaluation for summer camps which seek to offer emotional and cognitive support for children in occupied Palestine.
Objective: To assess children’s emotional and cognitive response to summer camps, children who attended camps were compared to those who did not attend on a standardised measure of emotion and cognition within situations of adversity.
Methods: A mixed methods quasi-experimental post-test only design was used.Children, aged 8-10 years, who attended a summer camp (n=62), were compared to those who had not attended a camp (n=22) on the Child Post-traumatic Cognitions Inventoryand on a qualitative summer experience questionnaire. Camp workers (n= 16) also completed a summer experiences questionnaire for comparison of perceptions betweenworkers and children. Statistical analysis involved t-test and ANOVA for within and between group differences and a six-step quasi-qualitative analysis was used to assess summer experience questionnaire responses.
Results: Unexpectedly,children who had attended a summer camp presented higher levels of traumatic cognition; however, they also reported more hopefulness for the future than children who did not attend a camp. It is uncertain if camp attendees are a self-selecting group because of higher levels of traumatic exposure and/or cognitions or because summer camps may have unintended negative consequences.
Conclusion: The current study, with its unexpected results, emphasises the importance of embedding evaluation into summer camp delivery. More robust experimental designs, however, are necessary in order to be confident that the outcomes are related to program rather than contextual factors. A range of potential summer camp and environmental influencing factors on outcomes were identified for future research.