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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 QualityTIMpact365 How Icon

Program quality refers to the ways in which programs are facilitated for youth. This includes staff practices that create environments for young people 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.

At Tims Camps, we use research-validated assessment tools to measure our program quality. Assessments take place during single activities, over a few hours, or multiple days of programming. Assessments are conducted by counselors, facilitators, program coordinators, program managers, and program innovation staff. We even ask youth perspectives on the quality of our programs through activities and surveys.

We currently conduct assessments for our summer and year-round programs (school only). In summer 2024, a goal is to have external assessors visit two locations and conduct program observations for a truly objective assessment.

SeasonNumber of assessmentsGoal ScoreActual Score
Summer 202272-68%
Year-round 2022-202313-76%
Summer 20236073%77%
Year-round 2023-202419 (after fall 2023)78%TBD
Summer 2024TBD78%TBD
Overall, we have learned that we are doing well in some areas and that we have the opportunity for improvement. Generally, we are providing a safe and supportive experience for our campers, evidenced by high scores in these areas during observations and through camper surveys. Our organizational focus for 2024 is creating an interactive program environment, specifically through “promoting responsibility and leadership”.

Outcomes and ImpactTIMpact365 Icon

At Tims Camps, our goal is to make a positive impact on youth development and support our campers in achieving important life skills. When campers are with us, we can often see the changes and learning happening in front of our eyes, but we measure those changes too.

TIMpact365 is our measurement strategy. Key parts of TIMpact365 are measuring the outcomes and impacts of a camper experience. For additional details about TIMpact365, including outcome and impact definitions, click here.

We began the first cycle of outcome and impact measurement with our summer program campers during spring 2022. To collect this valuable information, we request these participants complete three online surveys annually. Before-camp surveys occur in May and June of each year, after-camp surveys occur in July and August, and check-in surveys occur in November and December. We now have two full years of data to reflect upon.

For our year-round program, we asked campers who attend camp as part of a school group to complete a post-camp survey two weeks after their visit.

Participant survey data helps us understand how young people are learning and growing during their time in our programs.

OutcomesTIMpact365 What Icon

Summer Program:

Camper outcomes are measured twice annually as the 5Cs of positive youth development, on a scale of 1-4. The 5Cs is a common measure of positive youth development, and research has shown that higher scores in the 5Cs (i.e., closer to 4) are associated with greater success in young adulthood. Here’s what we found:

5C Outcome2022: Before camp (average scores)2022: Mid-year check-in (average scores)2023: Before camp (average scores)2023: Mid-year check-in (average scores)
Competence2.32.42.52.3
Confidence2.82.82.92.8
Character3.23.23.13.1
Caring3.33.23.23.2
Connection3.03.03.03.0

It’s important to remember that these are average scores across all the responses. When we match responses for campers across the time points, many campers had large gains in the 5Cs, while others stayed mostly the same, and a few had some decreases. Our focus for 2024 is to support all youth in developing in these areas. As we collect more information, we will be able to look at the data in more nuanced ways to understand who is experiencing gains in these areas and when. This will be helpful information to improve programs to target outcomes at specific times of development.

To get a full understanding of how campers are doing, we also asked them about their general wellbeing (scale 1-7) at all three time points. Here’s what the data said:

TimepointScore
2022 - Before camp (May and June)5.4
2022 - After camp (July and Aug)5.6
2022 - Mid-year check in (Nov. and Dec.)5.5
2023 - Before camp (May and June)5.4
2023 - After camp (July and Aug)5.7
2023 - Mid-year check in (Nov. and Dec.)5.3
After a summer camp experience, youth reported greater wellbeing, which indicates our programs are positively impacting campers overall. The challenge is that we see the wellbeing scores drop somewhat throughout the year. We now know it’s important to continue to engage youth virtually throughout the year to sustain those gains in positive wellbeing. Our next step is to explore virtual opportunities to stay meaningfully connected with youth across Canada and the US during the non-summer months.

Year-Round Program:

Outcome measurement for our year-round program that occurs during the non-summer months is important, but somewhat challenging. Although we still want to measure the 5Cs of youth development, we only have one opportunity to ask youth about their experience with us through after camp surveys.

For youth that camp to camp during the non-summer months, we asked them to reflect on their time at camp and indicate how much they grew in each of the 5Cs, on a scale of 1-5 (1 = not at all, 5 = a ton!). Here’s what we found:

Competence: 96% of respondents said they felt more physically and socially competent after camp. (average growth of 3.7)

Confidence: 94% of respondents said they were more confident after camp. (average growth 3.6)
Character (respecting others): 97% of respondents said they respected others more after camp. (average growth of 4.0)
Character (taking responsibility for actions): 95% of respondents said they took greater responsibility for their actions after camp. (average growth of 4.0)
Caring: 94% of respondents said they cared more for others after camp. (average growth of 3.9)
Connection (with peers): 95% of respondents said they were more connected to their peers after camp. (average growth of 3.9)
Connection (with leaders): 95% of respondents said they were more connected to their leaders after camp. (average growth of 3.8)

The majority of participants indicated experiencing at least some growth during programs, which is fantastic. As we continue to focus on delivering intentional programs, we’re aiming for at least 95% of participants to indicate experiencing growth in each area.

ImpactTIMpact365 Why Icon

Tims Camps programs are designed to shift the course of young peoples’ lives. This shift is realized through short-term and long-term impact.

Short-term impact is captured through camper surveys. We want to know how a Tims Camp experience is impacting young people in their lives now.

Long-term impact is not captured in a week away or even a summer. It’s measured years, and sometimes decades later, in post-secondary school graduations, in healthy and supportive relationships, in stable jobs. It’s measured as social impact on individuals and communities. We learn more about this by connecting with alumni years after the Tims Camps experience.

Short-term Impact

At Tims Camps, short-term impact is framed within the Big 3 elements of self, community, and future. Youth participate in activities directly focused on each Big 3 element while they’re at camp.

Self is related to personal goal setting and understanding oneself and what you need.

Community is focused on positive social interactions with peers and others in the community.

Future is measured through participants’ hope for success in various aspects of their lives in the future (e.g., attending college, getting a job, having positive relationships, being happy).

These elements are directly connected with the 5Cs outcomes we strive to support in campers and higher scores in these Big 3 elements are associated with greater success in young adulthood.

Summer program:

Campers responded to questions related to the Big 3 before and after their camp experience. Here’s what we found:

Big 3 Element2022: Before camp (average scores)2022: After camp (average scores)2023: Before camp (average scores)2023: After camp (average scores)
Self*9.19.65.36.3
Community
(scale of 1-5)
3.73.93.84.0
Future (scale of 1-5)4.14.24.14.1
*Note: Although the element of “self” was measured in both 2022 and 2023, different versions of the same scale were used and therefore the data are not directly comparable between years. In 2022, it was measured on a scale of 1-18 and due to survey length was measured on a scale of 1-9 in 2023.

Over two years of surveys, there were increases across all Big 3 elements after participating in our program.

For “self” and “community”, moderate to large statistically significant increases were seen each year, indicating that our programs are making a difference in how youth view themselves, setting goals, and contributing to their communities. During both 2022 and 2023, small increases were seen for “future” (a 0.09 increase in 2022 and a 0.03 increase in 2023), however they were not statistically significant. This means a greater focus on “future” programming during the upcoming summer is needed to ensure that youth are looking to their future with greater hope after coming to Tims Camps.

Year-Round Program:

Impact measurement for our year-round programming that occurs during the non-summer months is focused on the Big 3 elements and how young people felt they grew in these areas during their participation.

On a post-visit survey for youth who attended camp as part of a school visit, we asked youth to indicate how much they grew in each of the Big 3 elements, on a scale of 1-5 (1 = not at all, 5 = a ton!).

Self: 94% of respondents indicated a better understanding of themselves and how to work toward their goals after camp. (average growth of 4.0)

Community: 94% of respondents indicated a greater understanding of how to be a member of a community after camp. (average growth of 3.8)

Future: 94% of respondents indicated greater hope for their futures after attending camp. (average growth of 3.9)

It is clear from the data that we have the opportunity to focus on fostering community in our year-round programs. As a camp visit is relatively short, this can be difficult, but will be an area of focus moving forward.

Long-term Impact
In April and May of 2022, we undertook one of the largest camper alumni surveys in the history of Canadian summer camp. We contacted all Tims Camps summer program participants from 2003-2021. This was around 14,000 people! The aim of this survey was to understand the long-term impact of a Tims Camps experience. We wanted to know if former campers learned skills that they use in their lives as adults today, what aspects of their camp experience they remembered, and whether they feel camp contributed to where they are now.
TIMpact365 Qualitative Icon
Participants were asked to share memories of their Tims Camps experience and to describe the experience in one word. Hundreds of incredible stories were shared. Here are a few:

“Throughout my time in THFC camps, I was allowed to be myself, and myself was enough. It didn't matter where I came from. I knew...that I needed to carry this with me into my life back home. For me personally, it took a lot of strength and courage to be comfortable in my skin and find internal motivation, rather than external motivation. THFC camps reminded me that I was worth it and gave me that power.”

“My fondest memory is when my cabin group was on overnight. We were all sitting by the water since we were on an island. We all were just talking and laughing, we were all tired from the days prior of canoeing laughing at nonsense. I remember feeling as if in that moment we were all family; it didn't matter our popularity status, our looks, or if we had high-end clothes like it does in school. We were all equal, we all had gotten to know each other.”

“I struggled growing up with anxiety, self-consciousness, and the feeling that nothing I ever did would be enough. When I start to feel those feelings creep back into my life, I think back to one of my last nights of a canoe trip, my last year of camp. My friend and I watched the sun set. Everything in the world was very quiet. This was one of the first times in my life I felt like I could slow down and be happy just existing. It all hit me in that moment how far I had come in this program.”

“The day I carried a canoe by myself was a big deal and something that gave me a great deal of confidence as a young girl. I knew I was strong even if it didn’t look like it. I still love that.”

Overall, participants reflected fondly on their time at camp and described it quite positively. Common one-word descriptions were “amazing,” “lifechanging,” and “empowering”.

TIMpact365 Quantitative Icon

The quantitative results suggested that Tims Camps were important experiences during the alumni’s youth. Three main takeaways can be drawn from the results:

  1. Our youth don’t have the opportunity to learn these skills elsewhere.
  • The results suggest that attending Tims Camps was critical to the development of skills that remain important in their life today.
  • The results suggest that outcomes such as willingness to try new things, affinity for nature, appreciation for diversity, and perseverance are particularly salient for Tims Camps alumni.
  • When prompted to consider the primary setting the skills were developed, participants reported that Tims Camps were the setting where they most developed these skills for all but one outcome—responsibility—which was most developed at home.
  1. Greater years of camp = greater impact.
  • The results suggest that the more years that alumni attended Tims Camps as a youth, the more they reported camp being important to their learning of skills that are important to them today. This communicates the power of a multi-year program for youth.
  1. Tims Camps opens doors/creates opportunities for education and employment.
  • The results suggest that attending Tims Camps is related to educational and employment attainment later in life. More specifically, for each year of camp attendance, alumni were 1.25 times more likely to attend college or university. Further, for every year of camp attendance, alumni were 1.5 times more likely to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Post-secondary education is a stepping stone to gainful employment.

A peer reviewed academic publication about this alumni study was accepted in the Journal of Youth Development. The study is available for free download in English only here.

*Note: Responses were received from a total of 628 former campers. For the purposes of statistical analysis of long-term impact, responses from alumni 18 years or older were included (449). These participants would have completed the program at least a year previously.