Organized out-of-school time (OST) activities can provide youth with developmentally enriching experiences. Summer camp is one such activity, offering opportunities for positive youth development and, in some cases, promoting socioemotional learning, character development, resilience, and academic and career-related outcomes (Garst et al., 2011; Henderson et al., 2007; Merryman et al., 2012; Whittington & Garst, 2018; Wilson & Sibthorp, 2018). Not all youth, however, have access to high-quality summer programs (Browne et al., 2019; National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine, 2019). Furthermore, summer camps designed around the needs and interests of relatively privileged youth can create exclusive dynamics within camp spaces, potentially marginalizing those who are not members of the dominant group (Browne et al., 2019). Many organizations are recognizing these inequities and are seeking ways to create more inclusive programming (Fields, 2020).

Despite efforts by many summer camps to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, few studies have examined what these efforts look like and what challenges and needs remain at a national level. Even less research has considered staff perceptions of these efforts, despite the fact that staff have a major role in shaping the camp environment. Drawing data from resident camp staff at two national youth-serving organizations, the purpose of this study was to identify 1) strategies staff use to create an inclusive summer camp environment; 2) challenges to creating an inclusive environment; and 3) what staff need to maintain and improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at camp.



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