Background and Context:
Children with cancer and their families often attend specialized summer camps (therapeutic recreation) through their cancer treatment journey. Evaluations of these programs are emerging over the recent decade. Previous evaluations have infrequently used standardized measures, and typically enrol small sample sizes drawn from single summer camps.
To address these gaps, this study sought to use a standardized outcome measure, and to enrol a large sample size from multiple centres to enable stratification of outcomes by sub-groups.
A cross-sectional study at 19 camps in North America was used to evaluate summer camps for children with cancer and their siblings.
Programme/Policy Process: Outcomes were measured using the 29-item Paediatric Camp Outcomes Scale (PCOS) which uses a Likert Scaling to score.
Outcomes/What was learned:
A total of 2,286 campers (N=1215 females) were enrolled in this study. Of these campers, 1,332 were patients and 951 were siblings. Participants (patient or sibling): “on” treatment were 444 (20%), relapsed 294 (14%) and 1st year at camp 535 (24%). The mean score on the PCOS emotional subscale was 29.8 (SD=4.5); social subscale was 39.8 (SD=5.3); physical subscale was 20.6 (SD=3.2) and self-esteem was 22.3 (SD=2.8). The PCOS total mean score was 112 (SD=12.6).
This study uses the standardized PCOS tool to measure outcomes for children attending camp. This allows for comparison of data across camps and across specialty camp types (eg cancer, diabetes etc). The findings provide a reference point regarding the role of camp for children’s emotional, social, physical functioning, and self-esteem. Strongest scores were observed for the emotional and social functioning subscales. Ultimately it is hoped that increased skills gained at camp will help build coping and resiliency for children who have been diagnosed with cancer.