Hitting the Mark: Our Clemson University Research Report

A Kudzu camper draws her bow and aims an arrow at an offscreen target. A title is overlaid on the lower left corner that says "Hitting the Mark: Our Clemson University Research Report."

The results from Camp Kudzu’s extensive study are in, and we couldn’t be prouder: The Camp Kudzu Magic is real! We see it in the increased knowledge and feelings of empowerment of all our campers.

Last year, 261 parents and 537 campers participated in our study, which was conducted in partnership with Clemson University. Our desire was to ensure continuing self-accountability and document that we are achieving the outcomes and goals we set for our campers. To accomplish this, we deployed a survey that collected both qualitative and quantitative data from parents and campers, with an additional follow-up with parents three months later.

“Camp Kudzu is focused on measuring our outcomes and measuring our impact,” said Rob Shaw, Camp Kudzu’s executive director. “We are proud of these initial findings and thankful for our partnership with Clemson University.”

The findings are incredible: our campers are more independent and knowledgeable, and their social skills increase, too. Because of Camp Kudzu, our campers feel more confident about managing their diabetes. Furthermore, being in an environment where everyone has diabetes helps normalize their diagnosis and boost their self-esteem. 

“Not only can experiences like Camp Kudzu have a powerful impact on campers’ physical, mental, and social health, it can also have a positive impact on the health of their families,” said Ryan J. Gagnon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University. “Dr. Garst and I are trying to understand how Camp Kudzu cultivates these positive outcomes for youth, where they can serve even better, and where they are leading the way.” 

“By engaging in this type of outcomes assessment, Camp Kudzu is on the cutting edge of best practices in medical-based camping,” said Dr. Andrew Muir, pediatric endocrinologist and Kudzu board member. “I’m excited to see the results of our continued research relationship with Clemson University.”

As 2020 programs ramp up, the staff and volunteers of Camp Kudzu will continue providing life-changing fun and diabetes education to campers through evidence-based approaches.

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