Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Jasmine A Townsend

Committee Member

Barry A Garst

Committee Member

Brandi M Crowe

Committee Member

Colin M Gallagher

Abstract

Resilience theory suggests that the unique stressors military youth experience can be opportunities for personal growth and development. Youth programs, such as summer camps, may serve as an effective environment to promote resilience and positive youth development (PYD) in military youth. The purpose of this study is to further understand the influence that Tennessee’s National Guard Youth Development Week (YDW) has on resilience in military youth by addressing three research questions: 1) how does participation in Tennessee’s National Guard YDW influence the six core competencies of resiliency in campers?; 2) how does participation in a military camp influence camper and/or parents’ perceptions of resilience and PYD? ; 3) to what extent is Tennessee’s National Guard YDW curriculum effectively implemented at camp?

Methods - This study utilized a longitudinal, QUAN+qual multimethod research design. Campers completed surveys pre-, post-, and 12-weeks following camp that measured resilience, self-awareness, optimism, mental agility, connections, character, and self-regulation. An implementation evaluation was conducted throughout the week of camp for each activity. Follow-up interviews occurred with campers on the final day of camp and again with parents 1-3 months after camp.

Results - Research question one. Self-regulation significantly decreased from pre-camp to 12-weeks post camp and post-camp to 12-weeks post-camp. Results indicated no significant differences among resilience and the remaining core competencies. Directions for future research surrounding resilience and military youth is discussed.

Results - Research question two. A hybrid thematic analysis revealed common themes across 10 camper and seven parent interviews. The deductive analyses identified resilience and PYD as themes. The inductive thematic analyses revealed three additional themes: military lifestyle, sense of belonging, and supportive staff. Recommendations included intentionally utilizing PYD as a framework to guide program design and implementation.

Results - Research question three. Camp staff used an adapted evaluation log to evaluate fidelity, quality, adaptations, and participant engagement for each activity. Results revealed this camp had an acceptable fidelity score, facilitators scored high on the quality checklist, and overall camper engagement was high. Recommendations for this camp and future studies include continued examination of implementation of curriculum and participant engagement on outcomes.

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