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Research & Teaching

Bradford Woods supports the academic mission of the School of Public Health and is a unit of the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies. Bradford Woods prides itself on experiential learning opportunities for students and cutting-edge research opportunities for faculty from Indiana University and around the country.

Our  model is to deliver programs based on empirical data. In short, we aim to deliver dynamic and accountable experiential programming to all clients that promotes positive growth and development. To this end, research is integral  and ongoing.

Current Research:

  • “A mixed methods approach to examining disability-specific summer camps across diagnosis and camp design.”
  • “The Specialized Camping Experience: Examining social acceptance, quality of life, and active living among youth with disabilities.”
  • ACA Supported National Study: Data collection took place in the summer of 2013 exploring the effects of participation for youth at disability specific youth camps across the nation. The research team consisted of key staff from Bradford Woods as well as faculty members from Kent State and Indiana University. A formal agreement with the American Camp Association on this research was developed. See results from the study (PDF), which were presented at the 2014 American Camp Association conference.
  • Therapeutic Horseback Riding: Specific impacts and holistic outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorders and their families
  • “An Examination of the Feasibility and Influence of a Theoretically Based Inclusive Family Recreation Program”
  • “What We Learned In The Woods – Unconventional Solutions to Everyday Challenges in Public Health Nursing Education”

Published Research:

  • Dawson, S. & Knapp, D. (2014). Brining “Camp War Buddies” to the Home Front. National Research Forum Book of Abstracts. American Camp Association, Orlando, FL.
  • Devine. M.A.. & Dawson, S. (2014). Disability Specific Camp Experience: Results of a National Study. National Research Forum Book of Abstracts. American Camp Association, Orlando, FL.
  • Townsend, J., & Van Puymbroeck, M. (2013). Family Recreation and Autism. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 12(1), 16-22. Understanding the intentions of famiies with a child with autism to participate in a family recreation program: A pilot study.
  • Townsend, J., & Van Puymbroeck, M. (2012). Autism Spectrum Disorder and Recreation Therapy. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 11(4), 27-37. Development and evaluation of a family recreation intervention for families with an adolescent with an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Dawson, S., Knapp, D., & Farmer, J. (2012). Camp War Buddies: Exploring Therapeutic Benefits of Social Comparison in a Pediatric Oncology Camp. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 46(4), 313-325. Campers who attended a pediatric oncology camp demonstrated significant improvements in self-esteem. Discussion and implications focus on social comparison theory.
  • Devine, M.A., & Dawson, S. (2010). The Effect of a Residential Camp Experience on Self Esteem and Social Acceptance of Youth with Craniofacial Differences. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 44(2), 105-120. Campers who attended a residential camping experience for youth with craniofacial differences demonstrated significant gains in self esteem and social acceptance after camp, though the gains dissipated several weeks later. Discussion focuses on the need for a multi-dimensional approach in addressing self esteem among youth with stigmatizing disabilities.
  • Dawson, S., & Liddicoat, K. (2009). “Camp Gives Me Hope”: Exploring the Therapeutic Use of Community for Adults with Cerebral Palsy. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 43(4), 9-24. This was an empirical study focused on the lived experiences and memories of adults who attended a camp that serves people with disabilities. The most common theme that emerged from camper interviews was about a feeling of community. Discussion focuses on the idea of community as a therapeutic modality.