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Research On The Impact and Benefits of SeriousFun Camps and Programs

Participating in a SeriousFun camp or program, even for just one week, can profoundly change the life and future of a child living with a serious medical condition. As members of the SeriousFun family, we deeply understand the transformative power of these experiences. However, until recently, we lacked concrete data to support the incredible benefits that the SeriousFun camp experience can offer to campers in the long run.

In 2021, Dr. Ann Gillard, the Director of Research at SeriousFun Children’s Network, led a groundbreaking study in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research. This study focused on examining the enduring impact of residential camp participation for alumni campers of SeriousFun camps worldwide. Over 2,200 SeriousFun alumni, aged 17-30, from all 16 Member Camps in eight countries, participated in the study. These alumni shared invaluable insights on the personal, social, and health-related quality of life outcomes attributed to their time at a SeriousFun camp.

The study’s findings are remarkable, including these highlights:

  • More than 80% of alumni reported that their SeriousFun camp experience played a pivotal role in shaping lasting traits and qualities that they continue to utilize in their everyday lives as adolescents and adults. These include a willingness to try new things, an appreciation for diversity, a strengthened self-identity, increased empathy and compassion, enhanced self-confidence, greater perseverance, and improved friendship skills.
  • More than two-thirds of campers believed that camp significantly influenced their health, including their health-related quality of life, medical self-advocacy, and medical-related self-care.
  • The specific elements of camp that alumni found most impactful were feeling accepted without judgment, experiencing a sense of freedom, discovering a sense of possibility, and embracing the opportunity to try new things.

These findings provide compelling evidence for the critical need for camps and programs that serve children with serious illnesses. As a united global network committed to our mission, we are elated that these findings definitively convey the life-changing power of SeriousFun camps and programs across the world.

It is heartening to consider that, since the inception of the first SeriousFun camp in 1988, these camps and programs have consistently delivered lasting and positive impacts on the lives of the children and families who participate in them. Every generous contribution from donors and volunteers translates into tangible, lasting change.

We are profoundly grateful to share this knowledge as we continue to work diligently, striving to provide even more opportunities to make camp truly life-changing for as many children as possible.

For questions or more information about the study, please contact Dr. Ann Gillard, SerIousFun Director of Research.

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