Changes in Perceived Burnout among Camp Staff Across the Summer Camp Season

Zachary Wahl-Alexander, K. Andrew Richards, Nicholas Washburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Burnout is considered a major problem in a variety of occupational contexts, and especially in human service professions. Researchers have postulated that burnout could result in the reduction of performance, quality of life, and other factors including turnover and absenteeism (Whipp, Tan, & Teo, 2007). Given the negative consequences associated with burnout syndrome, scholars have begun investigating factors that fuel individuals to thrive in the face of adversity and avoid feelings of burnout. To date, there is lack of depth examining the prevalence of burnout in camp contexts; initial results indicate substantial deterioration of well-being and high levels of burnout in camp counselors during the summer (Bailey, Kang, & Kuiper, 2012). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between camp counselors’ resiliency and levels of burnout at different phases throughout the summer. The participants in this study were 80 summer camp counselors from one traditional, residential summer camp in the U.S. Northeast. The sample was comprised of 38 males and 42 females. The average age of the participants was 19.20 years (SD = 2.07), with the majority of participants being Caucasian (77), with the remaining participants reporting African American (2), and Asian (1). All staff members completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory three times, and the CD-RISC, a multidimensional measure of resilience, once during the summer. Following initial assessments, 3 x 2 (Time x Gender) Mixed ANCOVAs were used to examine changes to the three burnout constructs of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment over time while taking gender into consideration and holding perceived resilience constant. Based on the metric underlying the scale of measurement, perceived depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment were low at all three iterations. Emotional exhaustion was low-moderate at time point one, and low at time points two and three. Based on the mean values K. males perceived significantly higher depersonalization at all three time points. No significant differences were found between males and females for emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, or resilience. Camp counselors who displayed high resiliency tended to present depressed levels of emotional exhaustion during the third iteration of the survey. Furthermore, resilience correlated significantly with reduced personal accomplishment at each of the three iterations. This suggests that counselors with high resiliency were shielded from the effects of burnout specifically at the end of the summer.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-85
JournalJournal of Park and Recreation Administration
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Camping
  • management
  • camp counselors
  • resiliency
  • burnout


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