Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Recreation (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Brent Wolfe


Literature has noted the contribution of therapeutic camping programs in enhancing overall functioning and well-being. Therapeutic camps can provide an opportunity for recreation involvement, skill development, and reduction in deficits by providing a variety of activities suited for the needs of the population. This study explores caregivers’ perceptions on the impacts of a four week therapeutic day camp program on well-being in adolescents with disabilities. Qualitative data was collected through functional profiles, treatment goals, discharge summaries, and caregiver surveys provided by Camp RAD to evaluate the outcomes of the camp through the lens of the Flourishing through Leisure Model. By providing the correct environmental supports, Camp RAD led to improvements in the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and leisure domains that assist participants in achieving flourishing and overall well-being. The study suggests that a therapeutic camp program is effective at enhancing skills and assisting in the achievement of well-being.

Thesis Summary

This study hypothesized that a camp program providing a strength based approach to treating deficits would lead to outcomes in every domain and such outcomes would be noticeable to caregivers. Qualitative examination of the deficits, goals, discharge summaries, and caregiver surveys revealed gains in all six domains thus contributing to well-being and flourishing as noted in the flourishing through leisure model agreeing with the researcher’s initial hypothesis. The present study provides evidence for the use of a therapeutic camp program to treat deficits in functioning for adolescents with disabilities. Future research should focus on gaining a larger sample size, examining student caregiver and camper perspectives, exploring the connection of positive emotion and skill development, and a more direct look at the spiritual functioning of participants.