Dr Mandi Baker wins Canadian Camping Research Award of Excellence

Congratulations to Dr Mandi Baker on winning the 2016 Canadian Camping Association Research Award of Excellence for her PhD. This annual award is recognised internationally celebrating her PhD and its contribution to the industry.

Mandi Baker, PhD | Lecturer, BMIHMS at Torrens University


Mandi’s enthusiasm for outdoor experience started with her very first over-night camp at the age of five. Since then she has been an active participant in residential community experiences. As a professional, Mandi has worked in outdoor recreation as a facilitator, program developer, and manager. She has been a recreation coordinator for a cancer charity and as Head of Bellenden Ker College, Griffith University.

She is currently a lecturer at BMIHMS at Torrens University. She founds her research on bridging gaps between theory and application, research and practice, and experience and knowledge. Through research she gets to listen, write, explore and share the narratives that shape people’s lives. As her five year old daughter says, she is “a doctor of stories.”


Mandi’s dissertation explores the employment experiences of summer camp counsellors in Canada. Although there has been substantial research on the benefits of camp experiences for children, there has been very little research that considered either the employee experience or the subjective experience of participants. Mandi’s research does both.

Summer camps provide a microcosm in which to explore the complex discourses and practices that work to shape youthful employee experiences and identities. In particular, Mandi’s doctoral study examined the power relations and emotion work of employees. Youthful camp counsellors are charged with care responsibilities that are significant and often beyond their skills, maturity and experience. Hence, there is a tension for camp managers and employees as they manage these responsibilities of total care. This study suggests that managers must critically engage personal and industry practices in order to offer positive, ethical and supportive employment practices and experiences.

Canadian Camping Research Award of Excellence

The annual Award honours and celebrates excellence in research and writing that makes a significant contribution to the body of academic literature relevant to the organized camping movement in Canada. It encourages graduate students, faculty and independent scholars from any academic discipline or professional field to examine issues and/or practicalities from a social, educational, economic, developmental, technological, political, ecological or organizational perspective that are relevant to children’s camping or informational toward camp research. The judging criteria are the value to camping research in Canada, the depth and breadth of research, the strength of analysis and synthesis, and the quality of scholarly communication.

Mandi’s Phd is accessible here.

What’s Next?

Since completing her PhD, Mandi has pursued a number of academic publications as well as continued connection with the outdoor industry. She is currently working on a research project funded by the Australian Camp Association and the Victorian state government. Last October, Mandi was invited to give the keynote address at the NSW Outdoors conference. A fruitful endeavor for thinking and collaboration. Mandi continues to develop connections and concepts for future research across interdisciplinary fields of leisure (tourism, hospitality), employment practices, management, community development and sociology.

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