THE ANALYSIS OF SUMMER CAMP SATISFACTION OF CHILDREN FROM CROATIA AND RUSSIA: INFORMAL LEARNING AS THE PATH TO CHILDREN WELL-BEING
Organized leisure time with the aim of learning some important life skills is the basic mission of every summer camp for children of different ages. Camps for children and youth present a form of organized recreation, primarily educational and psychophysical recreation at sea or in the mountains (summer or winter camps) of children and youth conducted in groups. From the very beginning, camps for children and youth have been a place for outdoor learning, education, and upbringing in the form of a certain form of organized leisure. Camp activities highlight the acquisition of knowledge and skills through small groups who are provided with opportunities to develop a variety of social, emotional, and cognitive abilities that contribute to the overall development of camp children, regardless of age. Camps present one of the major forms of informal learning. The activities of camps for children and youth are also determined by the seasons, so they are most often divided into winter and summer camps. Summer camps, as a form of natural upbringing and education, are based on a holistic approach to children. All summer camp programs are important for the positive development of young people and aim to offer experiences that are not only safe and fun but also support the maturation of children and youth. Research studies have demonstrated that non-formal ways of learning meet children learning and motivational needs in more quality way than formal learning. Therefore, given the importance of this type of organized leisure time, which has a different approach to the child and childhood and thus learning and teaching methods, in this paper, the focus of the research was on examining the satisfaction of children attending summer camps in two cultural contexts: Croatian and Russian. The survey included a total of 107 respondents of equal numbers of boys and girls, with an average age of 13 years, of which 51 from the Croatian summer camp and 56 from the Russian summer camp. Motives and satisfaction of children with their stay in the summer camp were examined by a satisfaction survey created for the purposes of this research. In addition, in order to analyze the challenges in the work of preschool camps, an interview was conducted with the camp educator. The results of the research based on the applied survey on satisfaction with the stay in the camp showed that all respondents have high satisfaction with the stay in the camp. In addition, statistically significant differences were found in the satisfaction of children attending Croatian and Russian camps. Participants in the Russian summer camp express statistically significantly higher satisfaction than participants in the Croatian summer camp. Based on the conducted interview with the camp educator, the issue of preschool camps was analyzed. It was found that the status of preschool camps is less popular because children are not ready to sleep independently in the camp. Because of that, camp managers organize the day and family camps which should be able to offer fun and developmentally appropriate activities for children and youth. In order for this to be possible, it is necessary to have professional animators and successful cooperation with parents. Finally, recommendations for improving the functioning of summer camps, identifying challenges in working with guidelines for future research, were discussed.