Effects of Participation in a Summer Sports Camp on At-Risk Boys: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective



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Summer camps have received recent attention as an intervention to increase adolescents? physical activity. To date, research has rarely focused how a summer camp influences at-risk boys? motivation and physical activity through a self-determination theory. The purpose of this study was to examine changes of motivational and physical measures for at-risk boys participating in a summer sports camp. This study also investigated whether initiative games provide instructor support for autonomy, competence, and relatedness for at-risk boys. One hundred at-risk boys, aged 10-13 years, participated in a summer sports camp located in southwest U.S. for three weeks. The boys participated in scheduled camp activities on daily basis during the three-week camp period. Three motivational measure questionnaires (Psychological Needs Perception; Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire II ? BREQ II; Perceived Instructor Support) and PACER (Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run) test were completed by the boys at the beginning of camp as pre-test and then, at the end of camp, the boys completed all the measures in the same manner again as post-test. In addition, fifty boys who participated in the initiative games were interviewed about perceptions of instructor support for autonomy, competence, and relatedness and observations were conducted to collect instructor?s supportive behaviors for autonomy, competence, and relatedness during initiative games. Results revealed the boys? amotivation increased and their intrinsic regulation decreased across the camp period. The boys? PACER test scores showed no significant changes across the two different time periods. Further, the boys perceived the instructor?s supportive behaviors (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness support) during the initiative games. The findings suggest programs that allow more camper-centered options and de-emphasize competition may promote increased motivation and physical activity of at-risk boys through better meeting their needs.