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Ground breaking Study Illustrating the Positive Lasting Impact of Camp

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More than 2,200 Alumni Take Part in American Institutes for Research In-Depth Study for Non-Profit’s Largest Outcomes Study.

SeriousFun Children’s Network (SeriousFun), a non-profit which provides exceptional camp, in-hospital, and at-home programs for kids living with serious illnesses and their families, recently partnered with the American Institute for Research® (AIR®) to conduct a first-of-its-kind study that examined the influence and lasting impact of residential camp participation for alumni campers of SeriousFun camps around the world.

The study explored personal, social, and health-related outcomes that are influenced by SeriousFun camps; elements of the camp and camper’s experiences that affect those outcomes; and whether outcomes were affected by frequency of attendance or demographic characteristics of attendees.

SeriousFun, founded by legendary actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, is made up of Over The Wall, along with 29 other camps and programs around the world that help children living with serious medical conditions and their families reach beyond illness to discover joy, confidence, and new possibilities. SeriousFun is the only organization of its kind to serve children living with more than 50 medical conditions – including cancer, blood disorders, immunological conditions, neurological conditions, and more. Through camps like Over The Wall, children and families have the opportunity to escape the everyday demands of hospital visits, doctor appointments, and treatments to experience an unparalleled opportunity for belonging and accomplishment.

Study data were gathered between January and March 2021 through online surveys administered to SeriousFun alumni, who reported their outcomes and the extent to which they attributed these outcomes to participation in SeriousFun camps. More than 2,200 SeriousFun alumni, ranging in ages from 17-30, from 16 camps and eight countries (France, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States) took part in the survey, the largest study ever carried out by SeriousFun Children’s Network.  

More than 80% of total alumni reported that their SeriousFun camp experience played a major role in their development of lasting outcomes, which they used in their everyday adolescent and adult lives including:

  • Willingness to try new things (90% of respondents)  
  • Appreciation of diversity (88%) 
  • Self-identity (86%) 
  • Empathy and compassion (86%) 
  • Self-confidence (85%)  
  • Perseverance (84%) 
  • Friendship skills (82%) 

According to the study, all types of campers, representing diverse demographic backgrounds, benefitted from their experience at SeriousFun. Demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, age, education, gender, employment status, and medical diagnosis, had little to no bearing on the perceptions of alumni about the influence of camp on outcomes.