Chronic illness in early life (<18 yrs)is unexpected, affecting only 2-4% in the western world. Therapeutic recreation (TR) camps have developed to help with normalisation, development of self-care and self-esteem. Evidence for their efficacy is embryonic. This review has identified the history of TR camp development and evaluated the capacity of four recent literature reviews to answer questions relating to a) selection of camp experience against individual needs, b) their role in neuro-rehabilitation, c) the evidence for their effects upon normalisation of self care and adult transition, d) their cost benefits and e) the need for additional research. The review concludes that TR camps offer safe fun, enhance self-esteem and self-care for children, siblings and families. However equity of access by disease group and underrepresented populations and the selection of camp style for different disease or age groups is not studied. Future research needs to be hypothesis driven could combine qualitative and quantitative methods, the latter needs to be applied with sufficient statistical power.
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