As an organization we are always learning, growing, and making improvements. Everything we do is framed within a continuous improvement cycle, which consists of multiple phases that are repeated year after year. First, we prepare to assess our programs and youth outcomes. Then, we conduct our assessment plans and collect data. Next, we identify areas where we are successful and determine opportunities for improvement. The opportunities for improvement are where we can make the greatest change and implement improvement plans to enhance the youth experience. Everything we do is based on intentional reflection, planning, and improvement.
Based on the information we have collected, we have identified goals for the number of youth that we aim to serve in our different programs, as well as how to measure our progress related to program quality. As we repeatedly engage in cycles of continuous improvement, we’ll continue to learn more about the youth we reach, their needs, and how we are addressing them.
During COVID-19, we transitioned to online offerings to serve our youth. Although this was an opportunity to connect and engage with youth during a time of need, we learned that camp is best experienced in-person. We know that our facilities and programs are key ways to reach and impact young people. Moving forward, we will prioritize in-person learning.
We know that we can support youth in our communities through our programs. As we adapt in the face of COVID-19, we aim to return in-person programming in 2022 and continue to expand our reach in the years to come.
Number of youth we aim to serve
The opportunity to engage in the Camp Program Quality Initiative (CPQI) with the American Camp Association was an incredible learning experience. As we measured camp program quality during our virtual summer season, the data we collected is not suitable as a baseline for in-person programming. It would be like comparing apples to oranges. Instead, at Tims Camps we are focused on what we learned about the process of assessing camp program quality and how we can use these learnings moving forward in our program quality work.
Engaging more voices and perspectives is key for us and will allow for a well-rounded view of how we create a high-quality experience for youth. Our goal is to connect and engage with staff in different roles across the organization, youth in all three of our programs, and other stakeholders (e.g., teachers, partnership organizations) to provide insights into program quality. Sourcing different perspectives of the quality of our programs will allow us to gain a deeper understanding of what we do well and how we can improve.
In addition, we discovered that while the Camp Program Quality Assessment tool from the Weikart Centre is an excellent tool for some of our staff to use, it’s not feasible for use by our counsellors, facilitators, or youth to determine program quality. We aim to create two different and more concise tools that contain all the key aspects of the four different environments (i.e., safe, supportive, interactive, and engaging), but are less time-intensive and will be more practical for our uses. We are also engaging youth in creative camp-based activities to share their views on what makes a high-quality camp program.