An increasing number of studies have deployed notions of therapeutic landscape (Gesler, 1992). As illustrated by the phenomenal growth in both the number and variety of camp programmes (Kelk, 1994; Schwartz, 1960), it is evident that they are perceived to be beneficial to children – particularly those with medical, physical and psychosocial needs (Byers, 1979; Langdon and Kelk, 1994; Michalski et al., 2003).

This paper, based on a summer camp for underprivileged children, seeks to make three contributions. Firstly, this publication seeks to directly address Conradson's (2005) call to draw attention to the ever–changing interactions between bodies that are influenced by, and in turn influence, the landscape that they inhabit. Secondly, this paper advocates that Camp Macaulay works as 'taskscape' (Ingold, 1993:153) and in doing so acknowledges the temporal and active dimensions of landscape production. Thirdly, Michalski et al. (2003) highlight that despite widespread consensus that recreation programmes and camping are effective social work interventions; the practice literature remains significantly underdeveloped and requiring further elaboration (Breton, 1990; Kelk, 1994).

The overall research aim is two–fold. Firstly, this paper seeks to identify mechanisms that contribute to the functioning of Camp Macaulay as a taskscape. Secondly, this research aims to critically analyse disciplinary regulation and the production of staff and camper behaviours within this space.

Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health and Wellbeing (3), Quality Education (4), Partnerships for the Goals (17)

Literature Review

Therapeutic landscape

Since its conception, the therapeutic landscape notion has been extended to multiple contexts and populations (Williams, 1999) in an attempt to explain how combinations of valued characteristics promote health and wellbeing in these spaces (Wakefield and McMullan, 2005). A range of studies has explored therapeutic qualities offered by sites and landscapes associated with nature, especially in forests and mountains (Eyles and Williams, 2008). Leipert et al. (2012: 369) highlight that initial examinations of therapeutic landscapes tended to focus on iconographic places of spirituality (Williams, 2010), pilgrimage and natural sites of physical beauty, most notably spas (Geores, 1998; Gesler, 1991) and national parks (Palka, 1999).

Enquiries into therapeutic landscapes have also spread to the built environment whereby literature has predominantly orientated around treatment of vulnerable populations (Rosenberg, 2016). These include summer camps (Thurber and Malinowski, 1999; Kiernan et al., 2004), and those representing everyday sites of healing including rehabilitation sites (Wilton and DeVerteuil, 2006).


Although suggesting the components are active, Ingold's theory of landscape (1993, 2000) proposes that the landscape itself is active and is constantly changing as a result of interaction between individuals. This theoretical notion of place as active, in an incessant state of 'becoming' (Pred, 1983; 1984) and as a subjectively sensed and experienced phenomenon is not new to geography (Gregory et al., 2009). Ingold (2000:

  1. describes 'tasks' as "any practical operation, carried out by a skilled agent in a

environment" as part of their everyday life. This taskscape perspective insists that individual's engagement with the landscape predominantly determines the emotion that they personally attach to the landscape reinforcing Andrews (2002) claim that places are symbolic and provide meaning to people.


There is a clear link between therapeutic landscapes, taskscapes and sustainability. Although a plethora of definitions seek to convey the essence of the term, this paper uses the initial definition of sustainable development from the 1987 publication Our Common Future. It is here defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Bruntland, 2013). This publication also recognises that nature imposes thresholds to sustainable development (ibid, 2013). However, this paper highlights how nature can provide benefits that are conducive to economic growth and seeks to underpin the mechanisms by which personal development is enhanced through this therapeutic encounter. Camp Macaulay is a clear example of a community–level initiative that encourages positive behavioural changes in a disadvantaged youth population. This serves to sculpt a more sustainable future by enhancing civic capital, future economic viability and establishing a community for the present and future generations.

Rural versus urban: healthy versus unhealthy?

Gesler's initial analysis of therapeutic landscapes emphasise the role of nature in enhancing individuals' mental and physical wellbeing. However, Kevan (1993) crucially highlights that the universal belief in the healing powers of nature can be traced much further back than therapeutic landscapes. Whilst Williams (1973) stresses that the urban and rural have been perceived in contradictory ways throughout history – a binary stereotype prevails that brands rural places as curative and urban milieux as sites of physical and moral decay.

In the context of North America, Thurber and Malinowsk (1999) explain that the development of summer camps for children stemmed from 19th century perceptions of industrial cities and towns as 'unhealthy' and detrimental to a child's overall wellbeing. This drove the demand for provincial locations where children could relinquish the ills of the city.

Russell (2003: 355) describes therapeutic camping as a subset of a group of practices commonly known as "wilderness therapy" (WT). Dunkley (2009) highlights that the purpose of WT programmes for children with troubled behaviours is to place them in a rural setting and engage them with activities considered challenging and to encourage behavioural change. Thus, it is the activities at Camp Macaulay that shall be referred to as the 'tasks' that sculpt it as a taskscape.

In his book, Tennant (1994) articulates how an increasingly 'moralistic' view of health has emerged as the link between the outdoors and improved wellbeing has strengthened. This is apparent on two scales: on a broad scale, exposure to nature is seen to aid in treating the 'illnesses' caused by urban living, and on the scale of the individual, it is seen as a way of reinforcing the values of the state. Within the context of Camp Macaulay, this research shows how certain behaviours, resonating with the camp's core values, are brought out and reproduced in both staff and campers within this space.

From disciplined to regulated bodiesi

In order to examine the means of regulation within this space, it is first essential that the concept of governmentality is understood and reviewed. Through this concept, Michel Foucault suggests that an examination of the techniques of power is redundant without an accompanying analysis of the political rationality that underpins them (Foucault, 2008). Wilton and DeVerteuil (2006) have since re–evaluated Foucault's definition in an attempt to move its focus away from actions of the state and advocate that in modern–day society governmentality simply refers to any endeavour to influence and shape the conduct of another individual or group of people (Foucault, 1983). Adopting this novel perspective of governmentality, it is argued that therapeutic landscapes can simultaneously be understood as sites for healing but moreover designed to govern the health–related conduct of individuals.

Foucault (1978: 216) refers to "population" as those who appear at the "ultimate end" of the ruling body, which in this context are the campers and staff of Camp Macaulay. Legg (2005) suggests that the decision on how to categorise a population is the initial stage in making presumptions about individuals in alignment with a wider epistemological milieu. Foucault's work provides a strong framework from which analysis of power relations occur on various scales, from the governed individual to the governing body. Legg (2005) advocates that work on the nature of the subject (identities) and the moral form determining behaviour in the landscape (ethos) are directly related to the techniques and technologies (techne) of government. Hence, these three concepts are used as sub–themes in the discussion when analysing the means of discipline and production of staff behaviour.

Knox and Pinch (2010) describe power as an essential component in everyday life helping to formulate the actions of individuals. This project then hopes to explore the "actual powers of subjugation" i.e. the ways in which power is exercised over individuals through regulating behaviour and the distribution of various technologies at camp (Foucault, 1979: 92–102; 2003: 27–34). In order to fully recognise the experience of the individual inhabiting the landscape, the concept of identity is important to acknowledge. Legg (2005) refers to identity as the epistemological conception of the population to be governed, their capacities and their direction of desire. It is evident that today identity is conceived as being an assortment of factors that are for the most part choices available to and which can be taken up by the subject. Butler (1990: 24) extends this Foucauldian concept to introduce the notion of "performativity" that suggests that individuals assume identities repeatedly over the course of daily life and in turn are internalised by the individual who assumes them (Weedon, 2004). Thus, it is necessary to consider how both the staff and campers assume certain identities at camp by 'performing' certain tasks. Technologies of the self (Foucault, 1988: 16) represent a shift towards a less state–orientated view to concentrate upon the notion of self–conduct within the population. Foucault (1988) highlights that these technologies of the self enable the individual to effect through their own means and construct particular identities through embarking on a number of operations on their own bodies, conduct and ways of being.

Reflection on the literature

Despite the recent popularity of this concept, few scholars have begun to acknowledge conceptual issues with therapeutic landscape literature that require further exploration. Dominant discourses generalise outcomes within the landscape as wholly positive and exclude certain knowledge such as the consideration of whether certain components of the therapeutic landscape fail and the ways in which these spaces can be considered sites of control (Wilton and DeVerteuil, 2006). Agreeing with Laws (2009), although this concept has attained a key position in the toolkit of health studies and many scholars have discussed therapeutic landscapes as spaces of contestation (Andrews and Holmes, 2007; Curtis et al., 1996), extremely few academics have extended this notion to offer a critique of the operations and outcomes of these spaces.

In this way, this project is cumulative in nature as it expands upon existing landscape literature but also innovative since this research offers a fresh perspective of the ways by which these landscapes function and examine the outcomes they produce, in terms of impact on inhabitant of the space as well as the landscape itself. Furthermore, through a focus on governmentality, one can augment one's understanding of the complexities of the landscape and consequently gain a holistic and deeper insight as to how the ways in which therapeutic landscapes operate.


Study site

Data collection took place in Camp Macaulay as a way of grounding these ideas about landscape, healing and therapeutic encounter. This camp is located in the state of New York in the United States (Figure 1) in the town of North Salem in the northeast part of Westchester County (denoted by the blue circle in Figure 2).

Figure 1: New York in the context of North America (©Copyright Bruce Jones Design Inc. 2009)

Sal J. Prezioso Mountain Lakes Park in boasts 1,082 acres of native hardwood forest and from June to August each year, is home to Camp Macaulay which provides a "traditional camp experience for underprivileged children residing in Westchester County". Camp Macaulay is funded by the Westchester County Council and designed for children from Yonkers, Mount Vernon and Peekskill (circled in black on Figure 2). As the map highlights, all three cities are densely populated compared to North Salem, therefore a week at Camp Macaulay is viewed as a "refreshing change" for them.

Figure 2:Towns of Residency of the Campers (Black Circles) in Relation to North Salem (Blue Circle) (©Copyright @ 2017 rootandroid.org)

Methodological approach

A qualitative approach was selected as its inductive nature permits the complexity of human situations to be drawn upon and as a researcher, enables the author to produce descriptive generalisations and theories grounded in experience (Seamon and Gill, 2016). Given that the primary function of this report is to uncover the mechanisms through which therapeutic landscapes function and unravel disciplinary measures in this

space, adopting qualitative methods enabled me to identify unnoticed interconnections without being constrained by predetermined concepts (ibid., 2016).

Research methods

Semi–structured interviews were chosen to facilitate a relaxed conversation with purpose (Eyles and Smith, 1988) and maintain consistency whilst allowing participants to raise questions and focus upon certain topics (Valentine, 1997). It is an indispensable means to promote a participant–based approach (Llewellyn, 2003) whereby individuals who are implicated in designing and inhabiting the landscape are incorporated into research in a more meaningful manner.

Interviews commenced with fairly descriptive questions such as asking participants about their current role at camp Macaulay. This enabled an analysis of the various motives/normative commitments which may shape participants' initial motivations to work at Camp Macaulay. Asking closed questions such as their opinion of which activity equips campers with the most skills simultaneously enables easy comparison between respondents' answers and acts as a gateway to further discussion of the benefits derived from camp activities. This helped to underpin the exact mechanisms by which therapeutic effects are produced. In order to examine the means of regulation within the space more exploratory questions were posed. This included asking about the common causes and triggers of conflict as well as disciplinary measures to resolve such conflicts. Lastly, staff were questioned about the overall effectiveness of the camp in providing therapeutic experiences and the role of camp in assimilating a disadvantaged population into contemporary society.

Hoggart, Lees and Davies (2001) suggest that despite increasing interest in participant observation, little ethnographic research has been undertaken within geography. Geertz (1973) highlights that ethnography is unique as a method as it solely provides the opportunity for others to speak and (Brenner et al., 1985: 7) considers this "everyday activity of talk" as the best way to gain a comprehensive understanding of peoples' activities.

Gaining access to the community

Significant legwork was required before the data collection. Having worked as an Outdoor Adventure and Arts and Crafts Expertii the previous year, the author had the opportunity to build a strong relationship based on trust and affection with both campers and staff. However, the opportunity to attend camp summer 2016 was only possible due to being directly invited to work at the camp again. In this sense the "gatekeeper" (ibid: 116) to the community is the Camp Director who determines which staff are offered a position the following year. Having accepted, the author returned as a camp counsellor as this role would involve spending more time with the children and sharing a yurt with a particular age cohort throughout their stay at camp.

In order to be ethically coherent, the research process was transparent to the Camp Macaulay Administration team. Staff members were informed of the author's theoretical standpoints and precise methods prior to reading and signing ethics forms, approved by the University of Southampton Ethics Committee (submission ID: 20312).

Results and Discussion

From therapeutic landscape to taskscape

As Dunkley (2009) emphasises, adopting the taskscape perspective enhances the analysis of places devoted to healing by focusing attention upon the temporal aspects of place: the everyday activities that take and make place and consequently repeatedly reproduce the landscape. Foucault (1995) has identified two elements – enclosure and ranking – as essential to disciplining spaces.


This sense of bounded–ness is used to refer to the camp's 'property' i.e. the bounds of Camp Macaulay. Interestingly, Camp Macaulay was not initially designed for the "neediest kids" but for all kids residing in Westchester County. This reorientation in direction reflects the fall in numbers of children subscribing to the programme. It is hardly surprising that the camp's landscape has significantly transformed both to accommodate and as a result of its new population. The camp was initially located at an alternate location further up the road and founder of the camp, Henry Johnsoniii , revealed that the relocation to its current site was decided by "the characteristics of its physical landscape". Centred upon a large lake and field, he highlighted that these physical characteristics of the landscape lent itself to the easy implementation of activities, such as a sports field in the abundance of open green space and the creation of a waterfront for swimming in lake Cedar. To this extent, it is clear that the physical landscape of Camp Macaulay facilitates the implementation of 'tasks' which – following interactions of staff and campers with these tasks and landscape – becomes a 'taskscape'.

Furthermore, the notion of 'enclosure' can be considered as a form of governmentality and highlights that what happens within the physical space of the camp is heterogeneous to the culture beyond camp boundaries, reinforcing Dunkley's (2009) principle that the campers are deliberately isolated from society for the purpose of their 're—socialisation'. A Counsellor and former camper recalled that during her first year as a camper, daytrips were arranged for staff and children to visit the local petting zoo and go to Playland (the local theme park). However the Westchester County Board soon terminated these outings on the grounds that these excursions were "too risky" for campers in terms of potential health and safety dangers. Consequently campers remain within Camp Macaulay grounds throughout the duration of their stay. This reflects an additional motive, beyond that of merely safety, to keep the inhabitants within the site of control. The camp social worker, suggests that campers returning to camp, referred to as 'returners', "know how to behave because they know the Camp Macaulay way". This suggests that campers create a clear psychological separation between conduct expected within Camp Macaulay borders and life in the outside world. As Foucault (1976:140) highlights, this enables staff to exert "forms of subjugation" through various techniques deployed within the space to ultimately achieve control over the camper population.

There was consensus amongst interviewees that the greatest change to occur to camp was the appointing of a new Camp Director and above all, their transformation of the waterfront.

Figure 3: The Waterfront Source: Author's Own Photo

As shown in Figure 3, the waterfront consists of three sections that reflect camper ability. Red bands (non–swimmers) are confined to section A closest to the shore and yellow bands (can swim 25m) in section B. The line of buoys divides these sections. The green bands can swim (over 50m and tread water for over one minute) in section C that is confined to the other side of the dock. Before entering the water, campers were obliged to wear a band reflecting their swimming ability (Figure 4). This clear partitioning of the population makes it easier for staff to minimise safety hazards that could disrupt the harmonious workings of the taskscape, but also provides incentives to campers to improve swimming ability to eventually become 'green bands'. The 'Buddy Check' system was implemented whereby every 20–30 minutes a whistle was sounded and the campers were obliged to immediately evacuate the water and find their buddy for a roll call. Before each swimming lesson, waterfront rules were read aloud and were posted in and around the boathouse for campers for read, clearly highlighting what behaviours were desired from the campers within this space.

Figure 4: Bands Reflecting Swimming Ability Source: Author's Own Photo

The camp founder highlighted that camps specifically targeted at underprivileged children have more stringent health and safety regulations and consequently camp "needed structure, like how a teacher structures a school day". It is believed that providing structure and thereby occupying the children with activities (tasks) would equip the children with various skills that would enhance their mental and physical wellbeing. Consequently we have the creation of the taskscape. One camp leader further stated that orientation week – the week before campers arrive dedicated purely to staff training – was made obligatory by the New York State Department of Health. This was an integral stage in the regulation of Camp Macaulay as it highlights the filtering of state reasoning into the workings of camp. The above examples highlight that Camp Macaulay is the product of negotiations between various governing bodies purporting truths about how one should behave in camp (Rose, 1999; Dean, 1999).

Figure 5: Plan View Stylised Map of Camp Macaulay Source: Author's Own Sketch


Foucault maintained that the ranking of individuals into spaces is an important tool in governance and discipline (Foucault, 1978). Evidence of ranking was clearly marked upon the topography of the landscape with the Mess Hall (where meals were eaten) and administrative offices occupying the highest spots of the property. Contrastingly, the campsites are located at the lowest elevation of the property (Figure 5). Furthermore, administrative staff (known as the 'purple' team) patrols the grounds throughout the day in golf buggies (Figure 6) enabling quick movement around camp and leaving distinct marks on the physical landscape. Clearly spatial disciplining are central mechanisms of the camp's procedures.

Figure 6: Camp Golf Buggy Source: Author's Own Photo

The purple team rank the highest within the staff hierarchy. They were hardly seen on campgrounds during activities, but rather were indoors in the office all day (located the top of the hill). During the interviews, all members of the purple team revealed that they would like to spend more time interacting with the campers and taking part in the activities but made it clear that their "primary goal is to supervise, not get involved".

Participants who had been staff members for over four years noted that the purple team "were way more involved back in the day" and the counsellor reminisced about a previous director "playing basketball with the boys". It was revealed that this was due to a change in camper recruitment strategy. Previously the Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS) was in charge of camper recruitment, but due to its failure to enrol campers two years ago, the Camp Macaulay administration team decided to carry out enrolment in–house. In February 2016, a new purple team position was created of 'head of recruitment'. During March, recruitment events were run with staff members who were previously campers, in order to encourage children in Mount Vernon and White Plains to sign up. The promotion of camp by those who had 'successfully' been through the Macaulay process reiterates the findings of Dunkley (2009) that campers are involved in place making.

Discipline and production of staff behaviour


Interviews with staff members revealed that motivations to work at Camp Macaulay stemmed from the same direction of desire: eagerness to help underprivileged children that stems from a pre–conceived expectation that working at this kind of camp will be "challenging and very rewarding". Interestingly, the word 'rewarding' appeared in over 50% of the interviews.

From the staff interviewed, it appeared that few had prior experience of working at a summer camp and those who did felt compelled by their positive experience to "spread the power of camp to people who need it the most". Other respondents felt that their low income socio–economic position would help them "relate to the struggles of the kids" and a handful of participants wanted to use camp as a means of "work experience", suggesting that working within a landscape designed for rehabilitation and a vulnerable population is perceived as a desirable attribute by future employers.

Furthermore, on the first page of the staff handbook, within the Camp Macaulay's Mission section, it states that:

`"Our staff members are leaders, mentors and friends… selected for the patience, understanding, energy, and willingness to constantly support every camper and staff member"

This paper argues that the mechanisms to create a 'successful' therapeutic landscape originate from its hiring process. In order to have the best success in achieving the desired outcomes, individuals with specific characteristics are selected to assimilate into

this landscape. Interviews revealed that staff identity already resonates with camp principles to an extent. Furthermore, due to the "performative nature of identity" (Butler, 1990: 24) it is highly likely that staff will conform to the camp ethos through internalising the identities made available to them at camp.


Ethos refers to the moral form that distributes tasks in accordance to certain principles or ideals of the governing body (Legg, 2005). Within this context, this notion highlights how identities and values must be aligned to the ethos of Camp Macaulay in order to maximise the effectiveness of the landscape.

"While employed by Camp Macaulay, you are a representative of the camp and… reflection of the camp"

– Camp handbook page 3

Forms of conduct expected by all staff are very clearly outlined in the staff handbook and repeatedly mentioned since arrival at camp. During orientation week in particular, the concept of "behaving like a role model" was continuously reiterated through every activity. The ways in which this is achieved was manifested through physical appearance by "remaining in the unaltered staff uniform during camp hours" and individual practices through "implementing 'respectful language and behaviour".

During orientation, one of the activities was to illustrate the characteristics of an ideal counsellor. As shown in Figure 7, groups expressed that key characteristics were being creative (the thought bubble), always focused on maximising camper welfare (the glasses) and being loving and empathetic (the heart). Although camp recognises the heterogeneity of its staff members, it is apparent that certain characteristics i.e.

"moral forms" and "kind of values" (Legg 2005: 148) constitute the 'ideal' camp Macaulay counsellor.

Figure 7: Characteristics of an Ideal Counsellor (Created Drawing the Outline of the Author's Body) Source: Author's Own Photo

Throughout the duration of camp, "maintaining a professional image on social media" was continuously reinforced at informal occasions such as meal times, and during formal orientation sessions. Fardouly et al. (2015) articulates that social media enables and encourages social comparison. This highlights that the workings of the landscape are not just confined to the 'enclosure' of campgrounds but the effectiveness of the landscape is also influenced by how it is perceived by the outside world. It is therefore a call for future research to analyse the ways in which the landscape operates to preserve its 'identity' through social media and other digital forms given the increasing influence of information from digital technologies in contemporary society.


O'Farrell (2007) suggests that Foucault uses the Greek word 'techne' to encompass the broader collection of technologies and techniques; strategies and procedures that are deployed to achieve a common goal. In this context, the shared ultimate objective would be the harmonious, effective working of the taskscape. During orientation week, staff was informed of the various rules and regulations at camp that they were required to follow. However, it is essential to distinguish between rules and technologies: the latter go beyond that of mere instructions – they encourage individuals to take action beyond what rules would dictate. There are two clear examples of this at camp: The Macaulay Maple Tree and the Love Line One Programme Division Director believes there is "no higher form of recognition than peer recognition" and believes it is "incredibly important to self–growth". As shown in Figure 8, staff members can nominate one another for a Macaulay Maple Tree for notable self–improvement or performance during the week. Once a staff member receives three nominations, they are awarded a green plastic Maple Tree keyring at the 9am debrief meeting on Saturday.

Figure 8: Nominations Box for Staff Maple Tree Awards Source: Author's Own Photo

Staff are also encouraged to support and motivate one another by writing notes and attaching them to the receiver's corresponding peg on the 'love line' (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Staff Love Line Source: Author's Own Photo

Discipline and production of staff behaviour

Through writing about camper's experience of the landscape, this chapter attempts to address Parr's (2003) call for research to include the perspectives of those who are 'cared for' within the landscape and in shed light upon place–based interactions that can consequently add meaningful contributions to the therapeutic experience.

Technologies of the selfv

Staff members were informed that offering children choices should always be the first course of action if a child begins to act out. The purpose of this is to empower the camper to determine their actions and consequently how they will be perceived as 'selves' by 'others' and themselves', reflecting their choice of identity (Weedon, 2004). All respondents agreed that providing choice was an effective means of avoiding conflict. For example, a drama expert highlighted that conflicts only occurred during her lessons when she tried to force a child to participate in an activity. This suggests that the effectiveness of the landscape is significantly dependent upon the latent diffusion of power. Obvious means of power such as reprimanding or giving 'orders' are recognised and almost immediately rejected by the children, thus ultimately prohibiting participation in tasks.

An effective mechanism at Camp Macaulay that has been purposefully designed to minimise conflict and encourage participation in activities is 'choice time'. This occurs almost every day and runs in two blocks: the first hour (choice time one) consists of five activities that are predetermined by the programming team whilst the second block (choice time two) always consists of the same four activities: Waterfront, Sports, Ropes and Arts.

Campers select their activity each morning by placing their nametag in the box for the particular activity they wish to take part in. Figure 10 illustrates that choice time one options are on the left marked by green tape whilst choice time two options are on the right marked by yellow tape.

Figure 10. Selecting Choice Time Source: Author's Own Photo

Although this research suggests that campers become involved in their own disciplining, the actual degree of freedom that campers possess in this instance is disputed. Supporting Foucault (2001), it appears that there is restricted liberation in choices due to potential dangers that could exist from complete freedom (Fornet–Bethancourt et al., 1987). For example, the order in which yurt groupsvi were called up to choose their activities depended upon how well they had behaved in activities during the week. This could be interpreted as a 'technique' of Camp Macaulay to encourage campers to behave in line with the camp's ethos. Additionally, certain activities had a fixed number of spaces in the class and it was apparent that campers were motivated to be called up early to ensure they had plenty of options from which to choose an activity. Furthermore, taking choice time away from the campers was considered a second line of action if a camper continued to misbehave, despite being given choices, again highlighting the use of choice time as a technique, but also as a means to encourage campers to behave in a manner that resonates the camp ethos and would be perceived as laudable by camp standards.

Chief's touch

The enforcement of behavioural rules was occasionally overwhelming for campers and staff members and could potentially lead to conflict. This paper argues that this was offset to a certain extent by the constant focus on the campers by staff and through ongoing acts of kindness that Dunkley (2009: 92) refers to as "Chief's Touch". For example, staff members would regularly forgo their free time to swim with campers, or sit for extended periods of time reading them their favourite bedtime story until the camper fell asleep.

This supports ibid (2009) that whilst it is important to enforce various regulatory techniques to keep behaviours fairly predictable and bodies manageable; it is necessary to devote due consideration to the acts of care that make campers feel secure. In this way, acts of care are a mechanism aiding campers to feel more at ease to take emotional risks and less likely to resist instructions. This ultimately improves the efficiency of various tasks within the landscape.

Sense of home: a prerequisite?

Inglis (no date: 4) accentuates that place evokes a sense of bonding and belonging which is about "feeling at home". The campers spoke of 'home' continuously throughout the sessions and at least one camper from each yurt group would cry about "leaving home" when their week at Camp Macaulay was over. A common technique of conflict resolution used by the majority of counsellors interviewed was the idea of being 'siblings' with other members of the yurt group. This was successful for the most part and corroborates Ibid's (no date) suggestion that a sense of being at home manifests itself predominantly in small group situations that centre on regular face–to–face interaction.

This study puts forward that this sense of home is a prerequisite for the function of the taskscape. Results suggest that 'feeling at home' enabled campers to feel comfortable in the camp environment, receptive to the camp ethos and consequently willing to participate in tasks. A Lifeguard highlighted that the very nature of tasks create a familial environment: "serving the campers food, having meals together, taking part in activities together, sleeping in the same yurt".

A camper counsellor highlighted that "The atmosphere of camp always feels like home because despite changes, every group of counsellors that comes connects with the kids"

To this extent, it is clear the relationship between counsellor and camper that creates this atmosphere of home, as it is the harmonious work of two counsellors acting in 'loco parentis'.

Two respondents described camp as a "place where kids can just be kids", and "sense of home" was also often cited as a reason for explaining why camp is successful.

"Camp is hugely successful because we get campers who get off the bus and say 'I'm home' because we create an environment that the kids are excited to return to each year"

– Programme Division Director

Figure 11 is an example of a touching note received by a staff member from a camper. Female counsellors were often called "camp mom" by the girls in their yurt group and participants highlighted that this strongly made them feel that their "role and work at camp was worthwhile". All respondents highlighted that these camper and staff relationships are crucial to influencing a staff member to return to the camp the succeeding year.

Figure 11: A Touching Note from One of the Campers Source: Author's Own Photo

"I had to come back to camp. I had to see my boys"

– Camp Counsellor

It is clear then that 'sense of home' is not only a prerequisite for the successful functioning of the taskscape, but the establishment of strong bonds between camper and counsellor is a key factor drawing staff back to camp each year. Consequently the creation of a 'sense of home' is also a mechanism by which the taskscape is established and contributes to the ability of camp to run year after year.

Assimilation: From the fringes to the centre

Foucault (1995) asserts that state institutions are comparable in the sense that they are designed to discipline, order bodies, and in turn, structure contemporary society. This paper argues that Camp Macaulay, predominantly through its 'tasks', equips campers with skills that society perceives as characteristics of an ideal citizen that enhances their personal development and sustainable social and economic development of the community

Key log is a weekly ceremony that every staff member and camper is required to attend and is stressed in the handbook (pg13) as being the "most important tradition at camp". The entire camp gathers in the amphitheatre together and one by one, staff members and campers stand in front of the fire pit in the amphitheatre (Figure 12) and answer one of the three following questions:

  1. What was your favourite part of the week?
  2. How has Camp Macaulay helped or changed you?
  3. How can you use what you have learned at camp for the future?

Figure 12: Amphitheatre and Fire Pit Source: Author's Own Photo

This is a critical opportunity for staff and campers to reflect on their self–development at camp and ruminate upon skills gained from Camp Macaulay and how one could apply these to the future outside of camp life.

When asked about the children's' favourite activity and that which provided them with the most benefit, the respondents' results were largely alike. All participants cited ropes and waterfront as the activity equipping campers with the most skills, and waterfront and sports as the campers' favourite activity. However, there were a range of responses as to why; few participants noted "relief from high temperatures" and "opportunity to see wildlife" as reasons for participation in swimming but the majority of respondents in all cases emphasised life skills derived from activities.

The majority of respondents highlighted specific instances where campers gained certain skills:

"Low ropes help the children the most because it is very much based around teamwork and communication and they have to perform well in that to do high ropes"

– Camp sports expert

whilst others acknowledged more generic skills from ropes, waterfront and team building in particular such as "conquering fears" and "pushing yourself" and "working collaboratively". Although all respondents unequivocally advocated that campers gained benefits and skills, a quarter of all participants expressed doubt and limitations of truly knowing how this will affect them in later life – yet advocated that progress can definitely be seen with returner campers from year to year, and even from week to week. As with the notion of 'sense of home', participants highlighted that due to the nature of their outside–camp life, Camp Macaulay is probably the only place where they would learn these life skills.

This supports the literature that camps are 'hybrid' spaces where social concerns emerging from the urban are addressed in the 'natural' spaces of the rural (Paris, 2000). Therapeutic camps, then, offer a site to consider how a social program is put into effect through elements of 'natural' places. Furthermore, Camp Macaulay encourages a form of "participatory citizenship" Barratt (2014: 264) which aims 'activate' citizens (through skills acquired at the Camp Macaulay taskscape) into a new, positive participatory relationship with the central state.

Components that fail

Gender roles

As suggested in previous chapters, forms of identity are internalised by the individual that takes them on. It is crucial to acknowledge that Butler's (1990) notion of 'performativity' focuses upon gender. She highlights that the acquisition of femininity is the product of the reiterative practice of performing discourses of femininity (such as the way adopted manner of dress, walking etc.) that in turn constitutes the individual as a feminine subject. Although its efforts to avoid differential gender roles within everyday activities are commendable, this research proposes that Camp Macaulay fails to acknowledge the role of gender and its potential consequences when implementing its 'tasks'. Interviews revealed a clear gender divide between participation in and enjoyment derived from certain activities.

These were apparent from the programme expert themselves:

"The older girls love dance because they like Beyoncé and feeling like a star… even if they don't admit to it"

– Camp dance expert

but also from other staff members making presumptions when asked what they believe to be the children's favourite activities. Sports was always cited as the boys' (of all ages) favourite activity as counsellors spoke of the boys "just want[ing] to play basketball" whilst dance and waterfront were the girls' favourites – although some expressed difficulty in getting girls to overcome their reluctance "to get their hair wet". Although this gender divide is expected to an extent, it is apparent that it inhibits the efficiency of the landscape when it results in the failure of campers participating inactivities. For example, Arts & Crafts programme leaders spoke of difficulty in getting boys to participate and often comments were made such as "girls make bracelets" or occasionally completely refusal to participate stating "I'm not drawing. Drawing is for girls". The Programming Division Director offered an insight into this by suggesting, "gender roles… is something inherently cultural". This reinforces Salih's (2002: 55) notion of "cultural inscription" occurring upon the individual body and consequently 'gendering' bodies from the very onset of their social existence. Thereupon, campers construct presumptions about what they can and can't 'do' given their gender and bring those presumptions with them to Camp Macaulay and when considering participation in tasks. These preconceived perceptions have often led to conflicts in the landscape between staff and campers as staff attempt to involve the camper in the task.


During camp, limitations to the effectiveness of orientation week in equipping staff to effectively resolve conflict amongst campers became apparent. 20% of respondents expressed that they felt that orientation under–prepared them for their role and that working at Camp Macaulay was a matter of "learning by doing".

"Orientation preparation is necessary but you don't learn anything until your first week. In reality, it's very hard to model… what we were taught is easier… the kids just don't give in".

– Camp Counsellor

Despite all staff members receiving the same training in conflict resolution, a wide range of responses was collated upon asking participants about their personal approach to resolving conflict. Roughly 25% of all participants stressed that there was no "silver bullet solution". However, all respondents advocated the necessity to "listen to what [the campers] are saying", recognise each situation as different and treat the campers as individuals and speaking to them one–to–one. Although sectioning the population into subpopulations may aid biopolitical control (Malette, 2006), these findings highlight the necessity to avoid treating subpopulations as a homogenous mass. In turn, this research stresses the need for "intersectionality" (Crenshaw, 1989: 140), the study of overlaps of social relations within subpopulations. By applying this theory, one would recognise that traits of an individual – such as gender, race or social class – are all inextricably linked and require due consideration in order to fully understand one's identity and in turn how they 'fit' into the taskscape. Interviews and ethnography suggest that taking the time to treat each camper, as an individual rather than part of a subpopulation would significantly reduce conflict.

Interstices of the tasks

Over 75% of the respondents highlighted "lack of stimulation" and consequential "boredom" as one of the crucial reasons as to why conflict occurs, irrespective of age and gender, and thus jeopardises the harmonious workings of the taskscape. Transition periods i.e. walking between activities were most frequently cited as particular times of day conducive to conflict as campers are not given a particular task to undertake.

"When children are understimulated, they don't know what to do with their energy so becomes negative energy in fighting and retaliating to each other"

– Camp Drama Expert

It was also noted that conflict occurs at bedtime as the children are "left alone to think" and thus are reminded of "their issues at home". During these critical moments of reflection, the individual becomes acutely aware of the space and time that they inhabit, and are forced to face their emotions that are brought to the forefront of their thoughts. Although unlikely to cause conflict between campers, these moments often result in the camper 'acting up' and requiring the undivided attention of the counsellor as they may have difficulty sleeping.

It is apparent that staff members perpetually put in a significant amount of effort – both in terms of emotional value (chief's touch) and discipline enforcement – between tasks rather than just during tasks to avoid any disruptions to the mechanisms in the landscape. Furthermore it appears that "distraction is key" to avoiding conflict in the landscape and producing outcomes that dominant discourses believe to be beneficial to the child's health. Although these moments of reflection are inevitable, it is indispensable for future research to duly consider what occurs during the interstices of tasks in the taskscape.


Summary and implications

Results suggest that camp is a space of control and that camping programmes to change youth behaviours are expressions of governmentality. The first section of the discussion highlighted the importance of spatial disciplining within the physical landscape in terms of property bounds and topography of the land. It was also evident that the production of a taskscape is an ongoing process and in the context of Camp Macaulay, is a node of a network of elements where physical landscape characteristics (such as the Cedar lake and the sports field), ordering tactics and legislative obligations (Orientation week) all influence the establishment of tasks and production of the taskscape.

This research highlights that mechanisms to establish a 'successful' taskscape originate right from its hiring process, through employing staff sharing certain desired characteristics including patience and understanding. It was apparent that staff came to Camp Macaulay with the same direction of desire and that these staff identities would make it easier for staff to align to the camp ethos. Consequently, there is less reliance on techne to achieve the desired behaviour. Two clear technologies were identified – the Macaulay Maple Tree incentive and the Love Line – as a means for staff members to motivate one another and continue to constantly perform to the best of their ability, partially in hope of further recognition. Landscape surveillance, ranking, staff hiring, staff orientation and techne thus are key mechanisms that attempt to produce order within the taskscape.

Yet one must recognise that the impetus to order the therapeutic landscape is not necessarily iniquitous, as it can be understood as part of a system of care. The ongoing acts of kindness, 'Chief's touch', were clear expressions of care and a mechanism by which campers felt increasingly at home and thus more willing to take emotional risks in participating in tasks. Similarly, creating a 'sense of home' and the role of the counsellors acting in loco parentis were cited and observed as key mechanisms and in fact a prerequisite for the potent functioning of the taskscape.

All participants cited that life skills were derived from activities, especially "teamwork" and "self–confidence" at the waterfront and ropes course. It was also indicated that Camp Macaulay creates identities in the campers that incites a form of "participatory citizenship" Barratt (2014: 264) by asking its inhabitants to reflect upon their experience of and skills derived from camp, and think critically about how these can be used in the future. This corroborates findings from previous literature that taskscapes operate to assimilate children from the 'edges' into the forefront of society. Furthermore, this highlights that camp Macaulay is a sustainable initiative, pivotal in encouraging the campers' development on a personal level and the social development of the North Salem community through enhancing wellbeing and relationships between its members.

Further research

Although the project is based upon Camp Macaulay, the purpose of this project is not to provide a critical account as to the functionality of the camp but rather, to urge researchers to attribute the necessary weighting and importance of forms of discipline, mechanisms and control in every therapeutic landscape.

As highlighted in the section concerning 'components that fail', incorporating a more gender–based approach and adopting the intersectionality framework would provide more of an insight as to the effectiveness of the 'tasks' and potential sources for conflict. It was found that significant acts of care and discipline occurred during the interstices of the tasks, notably during campers' moments of reflection. Focusing future research upon this aspect would provide more of an insight as to the community of care within these milieux.

This study could be up scaled by conducting a similar study in a longitudinal format, whereby research is conducted at the camp year upon year to identify further changes in the landscape. This temporal analysis of the evolution of camp over time would further enhance the findings from this project.

  1. Legg (2005: 140)
  2. Experts/Programme Leaders are responsible for creating lesson plans and leading activities at Camp Macaulay. Counsellors however are the primary individuals responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the campers 24 hours a day and live in the yurt with their group of campers.
  3. Pseudonyms are used for participant's names to respect confidentiality and preserve identity
  4. Identities, ethos and techne are Foucauldian concepts borrowed from Legg (2005: 148–149) to provide a comprehensive analytical framework
  5. Foucault (1988: 16)
  6. Campers were split into 10 yurt groups depending on their age and sex.


I am hugely indebted to a number of individuals for their support from the commencement to completion of this dissertation.

Firstly, I would like to express my upmost gratitude to my supervisor Dr Nathaniel Lewis whose expertise, understanding and generous guidance made it possible for me to share one of the best experiences of my life through this topic. Thank you to my loving family and boyfriend for being a constant source of motivation.

Lastly, I am incredibly thankful to my Macaulay family without whom this research would not be possible. Thank you especially to group six for putting a grin on my face everyday– I shall hold our unforgettable memories close to my heart forever.


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