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Keywords:

  • healthy behaviours;
  • school-age children;
  • summer camp

Seal N, Seal J. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2011; 17: 428–434

Developing healthy childhood behaviour: Outcomes of a summer camp experience

The purpose of this pilot study was to test the short-term effects of the Wellness Summer Camp (WSC) on changes in children's knowledge of healthy foods and healthy snacks, physical activity and eating behaviours, and self-perception of competence in school-age children. The WSC programme activities were developed based on age-appropriate developmental theory, including healthy behaviour developmental skills and reinforcement for effective behaviour choices and action patterns. A total of 18 children who participated in the 10 day WSC were evaluated using a pretest–posttest evaluation design. The results revealed that at post-intervention, children significantly improved their knowledge about healthy foods and healthy snacks. Based on paired t-test analyses, the mean posttest scores of healthy eating behaviours and self-perception of competence were statistically significantly higher than the mean pretest scores. The mean posttest score of physical activity also increased but not statistically significant. Introducing children to the WSC programme could help maximize their opportunities to build confidence and self-competence to improve their knowledge of healthy foods and healthy snacks as well as motivate them to engage in healthy behaviours.