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Our Impact

How we make a difference

Camp is fun, and we don’t need to plan or measure that. Beyond being fun, camp also has both immediate and long-term impact. We intentionally plan, measure and use information to continually improve upon what we do and how we do it. We have data to support how we deliver our programs, the outcomes youth experience in our programs, and the impact of our programs after campers move on.

Program Quality

Program quality refers to the ways in which camp programs are facilitated for youth. This includes staff practices that create environments for campers that are safe, supportive, interactive, and engaging. Youth participation in high quality out-of-school-time settings, such as camp, is associated with greater positive outcomes.

In summer 2021 Tims Camps participated in the Camp Program Quality Initiative (CPQI) with the American Camp Association. As part of this project, we were asked to pilot the Camp Program Quality Assessment tool to understand program quality at our camps and determine opportunities for improvement.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not offer in-person summer camp for our youth in 2021, so instead, we were one of two camping organizations involved in the pilot that were able to assess program quality in a virtual setting. Using the research-validated Camp Program Quality Assessment tool from the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, we engaged staff across our organization, campers, Youth Advisory Council members, and an external assessor to conduct multiple assessments of our programs. Nearly 50 hours of virtual programming was assessed!

Camp Program Quality assessment three groups

Three groups provided scores on Tims Camps program quality.

The first group was youth campers who engaged in the eCamp program. This included two campers, both of whom attended in-person camp in previous years and were now participating in eCamp programming. One camper assessed program quality through the Tims Camps social media accounts and the online camper portal, while the other camper assessed a live eCamp activity session and the online camper portal.

The Program Quality Assessment Team was comprised of six Tims Camps staff with varying roles across the organization. Collectively, this group assessed over 40 hours of eCamp programming.

To ensure we had a valid and reliable score, we also sought an external trained program quality assessor from the American Camp Association to assess six hours of eCamp programming.

 

Program Quality overall average scores

With groups of people assessing our program quality from three different perspectives, we ended up with three scores. The youth assessors scored us 2.8, our internal program quality assessment team scored us 3.6, and the external assessor scored us 2.8.

Combining all of these scores together provides an overall program quality assessment score of three (the assessments can be scored 1, 3, or 5). When we average the scores for the different environments, we see that our strength is in facilitating an emotionally and psychologically safe environment for our campers and that we have the greatest opportunity for improvement in creating a supportive and interactive environment.

Program quality environment average scores
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The above image shows an overall average score of 3. A bar chart on the side reports scores for the four different environments. Safe environment scored about 4.5, supportive environment and interactive environment both scored about 2.75, and engaging environment scored just slightly over 3.

It’s important we consider our program quality scores in context. We undertook this pilot during our virtual programming in response to COVID-19 and as a result, the scores will not serve as baseline data for comparison with summer programming in 2021 and 2022.

We can, however, learn from our strengths and opportunities for improvement. Our top score was for “creating safe spaces” as compared to lower scores for “emotion coaching” and “promoting responsibility and leadership.” This lower score may be due to the limitations of online programming. It’s difficult to emotionally connect and coach youth through a screen, and opportunities to lead are tough to manage through virtual platforms. If we see similar scores in our summer 2022 assessment, we can consider these as areas for additional staff training.

Program quality scale scores
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The above image shows a bar chart with more specific scores for program quality against various sub-categories:

  • Creating safe spaces: 4.5
  • Emotion coaching: 2
  • Scaffolding learning: 4
  • Fostering growth mindset: 2.6
  • Fostering teamwork: 4.1
  • Promoting responsibility and leadership: 1.7
  • Cultivating empathy: 2.6
  • Furthering learning: 3.4
  • Supporting youth interests: 3.6
  • Supporting plans and goals: 2.2

Overall, summer 2021 was very different for Tims Camps as we supported our campers through virtual activities. This was a great opportunity to begin program quality assessment, but it’s difficult to use this data as a baseline for our in-person programs moving forward. We learned a great deal from participating in the pilot and are using these learnings to create modified tools to assess program quality from multiple perspectives!

Outcomes

At Tims Camps, our goal is to make a positive impact on youth development and support our campers in achieving important life skills. Whether it’s changes or shifts in campers’ abilities to build positive relationships, an increase in self-awareness, or the ability to develop positive identities, attitudes and behaviours, we intentionally design our youth development program around these six critical outcomes:

Social & Emotional Skills
  • Positive Identity – self-awareness, self-confidence, self-efficacy, growth mindset, and emotional identification
  • Positive Behaviours – stress-management, self-motivation, and perseverance
  • Positive Connections – healthy and rewarding relationships with peers, adults and community groups
Learning & Innovation Skills
  • Organizational Skills– time management, planning, resourcefulness, task persistence, goal-setting, and financial management
  • Interpersonal Skills – communication and collaboration skills, problem-solving and conflict-resolution, teamwork, leadership, and cultural sensitivity
  • Cognitive Skills – creativity, innovation, analytical skills, and intellectual curiosity
How we measure successful outcomes
  • Our Tims Camps OUTCOMES FRAMEWORK is focused on developing critical life skills – like resilience, persistence and responsibility – that help youth from low-income homes thrive and transition successfully to adulthood. Using rigorous research practices through camper and teacher impact surveys, we measure our campers’ progress on key youth development outcomes, and then use these results to learn and make adjustments to our program to ensure we’re meeting the needs of the campers we serve.
Summer Program Outcomes:
Social & Emotional Skill Development

% of campers* who reported an increase in these key outcomes:

83% in positive identity

80% in positive behaviour

60% in positive connections

Learning & Innovation Skill Development

% of campers* who reported an increase in these key outcomes:

85% in interpersonal skills

80% in cognitive skills

58% in organizational skills

*Data self-reported from 554 Level 5 Campers, 2019 Summer Program

School Program Outcomes:
Positive Contributions
% of educators** who reported an increase in these key outcomes:

83% in student volunteerism

69% in positive classroom behaviour

39% in students' motivation to learn

**Data self-reported from 70 Educators leading school student participation, 2018-19 School Program

Partnership Program Outcomes:
We asked the youth in our partnership with the Justice Fund to respond to questions related to their experience at camp. Here are some initial outcomes* from this partnership.

Trying new things: 90% of youth felt they were encouraged to try new things.

Community building: 95% of youth felt that the partnership program helped them make new friends and build a sense of community.

Adult connections: 95% of youth felt that the program allowed them to connect with respectful and caring adults.

Perseverance: 81% of youth felt that what they learned in the program will help them to push themselves when things feel hard.

Personal growth: 90% of youth reported learning something about themselves in the program.

Impact

How We Bend the Arc

Tims Camps programs are designed to shift the course of young peoples’ lives. That’s not captured in a week away or even a summer. It’s measured in knock on effects years, and sometimes decades later, in post-secondary school graduations, in healthy and supportive relationships, in stable jobs.

In 2016, an alumni survey* was completed to capture the long-term impact of our Summer Program and see where our graduates are now. Our first cohort of participants graduated the program in 2002.

All Respondents*

  • 84% have started pursuing or completed post-secondary education (177/211)
  • 44% have completed their post-secondary education (93/211)
  • Only 46% of alumni have parents and grandparents with high-school education or less (97/211)

“I wanted to graduate. It’s been 42 years since someone last graduated in my family and I wanted to break the cycle. I was struggling with keeping time organized and keeping my work ethic up so I could finish school with good grades and get into a good school. Over time my grades got better from learning the structure at camp and I ended up graduating as one of the top performing students with a 3.8 GPA.”

-Isaac, Summer Program Graduate, 2019

 

“If it wasn't for this program I don’t think I would have ever considered secondary education. In a family like mine, university and college was just not an option for us. This has given me the chance to help not only my life but to help my family's lives as well. Today I am striving Accountant that is slowly but surely working my way up in life. Thank you YLP - not just for the schooling for but the chance to have attended the camp. Thank you for allowing me to see why people can enjoy life.”

-Jeniffer, Summer Program Graduate, 2005

 

“Because of my experience with the program, I turned my entire life around. I came from a background of poverty and addiction. Because a counsellor told me I was worth more than the life I had been given, I went to college, graduated top of my class as a mental health and addiction worker and I won student of the year.”

Justine – 2011 Graduate

Measuring Change As it Happens

In March of 2021, we sent out a survey to all campers who graduated the summer program in 2019, in an effort to measure the medium-term impact of our program. 161 responses were received (20%).

% of youth* who reported an increase in these key outcomes:

Social & Emotional Skills

  • 97% perseverance and self-motivation (156/161)
  • 96% stress management (154/161)

Learning & Innovation Skills

  • 84% cognitive skills (135/161)
  • 96% goal setting (154/161)

Supportive Relationships

  • 93% peer connections (150/161)
  • 90% adult connections (145/161)
  • 79% community connections (127/161)

Postsecondary Access & Independent Living Capability

  • 97% financial literacy knowledge (156/161)
  • 84% financial literacy skills (135/161)

*Data self-reported from 161 Summer Program Graduates, Survey Completed March 2021