SeriousFun Releases Study Illustrating the Lasting Impacts of Camp

SeriousFun Releases Study Illustrating the Lasting Impacts of Camp

NORWALK, CT (October 29, 2021) – SeriousFun Children’s Network (SeriousFun), a non-profit which provides exceptional camp, in-hospital, and at-home programs for kids living with serious illness and their families, recently partnered with the American Institutes 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 30 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. 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 — SeriousFun offers children and families 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.

SeriousFun Ambassador Clea Newman laughs with two campers while sitting on a bench at camp.

SeriousFun Ambassador Clea Newman laughs with two campers.

More than 80% of 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%)

“Since my dad opened the first camp in 1988, SeriousFun camps and programs have delivered more than 1.4 million experiences to kids living with serious illnesses and their families around the world, totally free of charge. At camp, kids get the opportunity to discover and enjoy aspects of their childhood and self-discovery that they often miss out on as a result of their medical condition,” said Clea Newman, SeriousFun Ambassador and Paul Newman’s youngest daughter. “The findings from our study with the American Institutes for Research reflect the positive impact that SeriousFun has had on its campers both in the United States and around the world for more than three decades. Camp can help shape our campers’ self-identity, empathy, and perseverance so they can live the fullest lives imaginable.”

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.

SeriousFun’s camps and programs around the world have continued to flourish, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Camp teams have continued to innovate and create opportunities for children and their families to engage — through increased virtual at-home offerings, or in-person sessions in smaller groups.

The study was supported by a Global CSR Program grant from Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

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