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The problem examined in this research was the identification and description of the distinctive components associated with the Christian youth workcamp experience found to promote the psychosocial development of church youth participants and the linkages to enhanced spiritual consciousness.

The unit of analysis for this multi-case study was the Christian youth workcamp. The criteria used for selection of the three cases examined were: (1) location within the Appalachian region; (2) philosophy and practice consistent with service-learning principles; (3) emphasis upon facilitating spiritual development; and (4) logistical concerns. Thirty-four subjects were selected from three church youth groups, each attending one of the three workcamps.

Data was gathered through the following methods: (1) a time sequenced series of four semi-structured interviews conducted individually with each of the thirty-four subjects; (2) participant-observation during the total experience at each of the three workcamps, including church based experience conducted before and after; and (3) collection and analysis of relevant documents.

The descriptions of the experience drawn from the research offered valuable insights into the subjects's perceptions of their participation in the workcamp. The small size and nature of the sample preclude statistical generalizations to the larger population. Nevertheless, the following conclusions have been advanced for further research:
(1) Participation in a Christian youth workcamp experience can promote psychosocial maturity by contributing to increased self-reliance and self-esteem, a greater ability to empathize with others, a stronger appreciation for community, greater concern for the needs of others, and a greater commitment to serving others. (2) The increased ability to empathize with others is correlated with an enhanced spiritual consciousness. (3) The particular aspect of spiritual perception (i.e., cognitive, affective, or volitional) which received the greater emphasis in a given workcamp tended to elicit statements which suggested enhanced spiritual consciousness in the same domain. (4) The programmatic components of the workcamp experience contributing to personal development and spiritual growth were community development, leadership development, intentional reflection, and engagement in meaningful service for others.


Copyright 1994 by Timothy W. Kidd

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