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 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. We piloted the assessments during our e-camp offerings in 2021, and in 2022 we had the opportunity to assess the quality of our in-person summer program.

During summer 2022, our camp teams and external assessors conducted a total of 72 program quality assessments across all of our sites. These assessments included multiple day visits, full activity assessments, and short snapshot assessments using three different program quality assessment tools: the research validated full Social Emotional Learning Program Quality Assessment for Camps tool, a modified short form and checklist. We wanted a full-picture understanding of the quality of our programs from multiple perspectives, so assessments were conducted with counselors, facilitators, program coordinators, program managers, and program innovation staff. We even asked campers’ perspectives on the quality of our programs through a fun and engaging camp activity.

In summer 2022, our program quality score was 68%. Our goal is to increase this score to 73% during summer 2023.

Overall, we learned that we’re doing well in some areas and that we have opportunity for improvement. Interestingly, we found similar areas for improvement as during our eCamp programming assessments: emotion coaching, promoting responsibility and leadership, and furthering learning. This indicates to us that we should update our programs and focus on staff training to ensure campers have the best experience possible.

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 during spring 2022. We request campers complete three online surveys annually to help us understand how they’re learning and growing throughout their time in our program.

TimepointNumber of survey respondents
Before camp (Spring 2022)954
After camp (Late summer/fall 2022)636
Mid-year check in (Winter 2022)788
OutcomesTIMpact365 What Icon

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 OutcomeBefore camp (average scores)Mid-year check in (average scores)Notes
Competence2.32.4Significant increase*
Confidence2.82.8Remained stable
Character3.23.2Remained stable
Caring3.33.2Small decrease
Connection3.03.0Remained stable
*Note: there was a statistically significant increase in competence. This is great news!
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 2023 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:

Before camp (Spring 2022)5.4
After camp (Late Summer/Fall 2022)5.6
Mid-year check in (Winter 2022)5.5
After a 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.
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 as youth progress through the multi-year program. 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. 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. These elements are directly connected with the 5Cs outcomes we strive to support in campers.

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).

Higher scores in these Big 3 elements are associated with greater success in young adulthood.

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

Big 3 ElementBefore camp (average scores)After camp (average scores)Notes
Self (scale of 1-18)9.19.6Significant increase*
(scale of 1-5)
3.73.9Significant increase*
Future (scale of 1-5)4.14.2Non-significant increase
*Note: There were statistically significant increases for self and community.
There were increases across all Big 3 elements after participating in our program. Although there was an increase in average scores for future, it was not statistically significant, meaning we can focus more on this element of programming during the upcoming summer to ensure that youth are looking to their future with greater hope after coming to Tims Camps.
Long-term Impact
In spring 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.