This study explored how interest in camp was formed in girls with little previous experience at camp. Basic Needs Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) suggests that interest (i.e., feeling intrinsically motivated) in engaging in activities requires supports that meet individuals’ needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competence.

A qualitative case study approach was used to explore the experiences of twenty-one 12 to 15 year-old girls who attended a residential Girl Scout camp. We collected data through semi-structured interviews that were based on Basic Needs Theory, yet remained open to other possible influences on interest.

The results showed that experiences of relatedness most strongly influenced interest in camp. Additionally, interest in camp arose from the setting of camp, namely engagement in new and unique experiences, feelings of flow, and connections with nature. We discuss implications for designing and implementing youth development programs.